Macklin says Goverment is supportive of Aboriginal homelands
TONY EASTLEY: The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, says the Federal Government is making an effort to support remote Aboriginal homelands and outstations.
Her comments come as Amnesty International accuses the Territory and Federal governments of starving the communities of funds.
The head of the Northern Land Council says governments have underestimated both the importance and the value of the homelands.
Timothy McDonald reports.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The CEO of the Northern Land Council, Kim Hill, says there are plenty of good reasons to support the homelands.
KIM HILL: You’ve seen a number of reports done by independent bodies, even governments, where they’ve identified our people living on homelands are the healthiest people in the region.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Amnesty International’s report says a Commonwealth and Territory backed plan to establish 21 communities as growth towns will starve the outstations of essential services and force families to abandon their traditional land.
Federal funding for homelands has been capped at $20 million a year for three years and will soon dry up.
Kim Hill says funding the homelands would help local communities become sustainable.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: He says the current policy will make things worse for the 35 per cent of the Territory’s Indigenous people who live on the homelands.
KIM HILL: People need to understand that the homelands is where people actually live and that’s their identification for their country. I mean, people don’t want to see or want to go into major towns.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: In her speech to the Sydney Institute last night the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, didn’t make any direct reference to Amnesty’s report, and she didn’t take questions from journalists.
But when the audience asked about the homelands she insisted the Federal Government is trying to help.
JENNY MACKLIN: One of the areas where we provide a lot of support for people who are living on their country is of course the Working on Country program.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: She says the Government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions will help too.
JENNY MACKLIN: One of the other great opportunities that will come from carbon pricing is the carbon farming initiative that many Aboriginal people in remote parts of the country, not just in the Northern Territory, see as a real chance for them to look after their country and also earn money as a result of carbon trading.
So they’re just some practical examples of things that we are supporting, ways in which we are supporting those people who do want to stay on their country.