Subject: Re: Aboriginal Issues in Australia
Dear Terry, Australia's early approach was one of paternalism. This was replaced by a "politically correct" approach of providing funding to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) - a body of indigenous people elected by indigenous people - to administer for the welfare of their people. Now, the newly re-elected Government of Australia is taking steps to change things dramatically. These moves are being criticised as a "return to paternalism" but, as the Australian Newspaper commented in its editorial 11/11/04 , at least this acknowledges that nothing that was done in the past has worked! It is a matter of grave concern to many Australians that the gap between the health and welfare of Aboriginal communities and that of the broader community continues to widen. So, you are coming at an interesting time in relation to your interest in such matters, with a debate now raging here. You will find much to interest you, in relation to Aboriginal culture, around Uluru (Ayers Rock). Canberra, of course, will be a source of information. Also, in your drive up the south-east coast of NSW, you should encounter some aboriginal settlements (look for the Aboriginal flag). I know of one on the northern shore of Wallaga Lake, between Bermagui and Central Tilba. Wallaga Lake is a beautiful estuarine lake of more than 2000 hectares of surface water, with over 100 km of lakeshoreline, two-thirds of which is national park. The Government built brick houses for the community some 25 years ago, as I recall. It would be interesting to know what has happened in more recent years. You will see an Aboriginal flag at the entrance to the community, near where the road from Bermagui joins the Princes Highway, on the way to Central Tilba. I will be interested in any comments you might have after your Australian visit. Harry, Gold Coast, Australia