Recent reports released by Australia's Community Relations Commission have said there is real cause for concern about the general relationship between Whites and Aborigines in all mainland states.
Recent reports released by Australia's Community Relations Commission have said there is real cause for concern about the general relationship between Whites and Aborigines in all mainland states. Some reports have warned that White ignorance about the Aborigines is such that there is a danger of an Apartheid mentality developing in Australia. In an age when Australia ranks as one of the wealthier countries of the civilised world, surveys have shown that a large percentage of the Aboriginal population is living in appalling conditions.
SYNOPSIS: In Australia's Northern Territory, Aborigines have long been fighting for tribal rights to land which they regard as sacred. Ayers Rock, one of the major tourist attractions in the region, has also become the centre of numerous shanty- settlements set up by Aborigines disenchanted with Government- sponsored settlements, such as the Papunya self-help centre, which houses about 10-thousand people. The shanty villages have been set up by Aboriginal elders, who have sickened of the social decay, alcoholism and poverty which is widespread in the settlements like Papunya, the Government aimed at providing shelter, health care and schooling for the Aborigines, but inter-tribal friction, and alcoholism in particular, has reduced the chances of the settlements being a success.
Unemployment is also a major problem. In the Papunya settlement, only 20 per cent of the workforce is employed, and the average weekly income is 15 Dollars a head, compared with the Australian national average of 170 to 180 Dollars. One development which could lead to an improvement in the general situation is the formation of a National Aboriginal Conference, elected by franchise among 40-thousand Aborigines in the Northern Territory and the Torres Strait Islanders. Thirty-five members were elected to the Conference, which aims at being a new contact group to negotiate with the Federal Government. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Robert Viner says the establishment of the new body is a turning point in the development and administration of the Aboriginal people.
But there is also a serious poverty problem among Aborigines in the major cities. In Sydney, Aborigines have move into the Penrith garbage dumping area, where they have set up squatter camps. They claim the land is theirs by tribal right, but this does not impress local council authorities, who have tried to have the squatters moved. The Aborigines have also been hard-hit by cutbacks in Federal social services expenditure. Health conditions are very poor, and doctors working in the Aboriginal Medical Service battle for funds. One of these men is Dr. Archie Kalokerinos.