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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2856


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(11.57) —I take on board the remarks of Senator Crichton-Browne and will ensure that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) receives them. Senator Vigor was not in the chamber when I spoke previously and I forgot to comment on some of his remarks. The development of Aboriginal broadcasting, both video and radio, has been patchy throughout Australia. It depends largely on local initiative. There is no firm program within the Department to develop it. It depends largely on local initiative and as local communities hear about what is happening in other communities they ask for and receive assistance.

As Senator Vigor knows, there are some very good programs around. In the Torres Strait, I think from 3 o'clock to 5 o'clock every afternoon, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation hands over the radio channel to the Torres Strait broadcasting people. A person on any of the islands, Maer, Warraber or Sue as it is known, or Coconut, will suddenly hear all the radios come on at 3 o'clock as the Torres Strait broadcasting group-I think it is called the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Media Association-starts broadcasting. It is a very effective community facility. I will seek further details as to what the Department intends to do in the future. At the moment it is my understanding that it is largely the result of local initiatives.

The Department is discussing with the Aboriginal Development Corporation the matter of housing standards and the development of skills so that Aboriginal communities can provide their own housing. As Senator Vigor said, communities vary in how they develop. He mentioned a community near Ceduna. Some are quite advanced, others are not. We are trying to get away from the sins of the past that we have all seen when we tried to plonk pseudo suburban houses in the middle of nowhere and expected them to be suitable. Through the community development employment project which Senator Macklin talked about, the Department is trying to expand this program, giving as it does local responsibility, giving as it does funding tied to local community needs and local community size. The Department is appointing a CDEP officer in each State and in each local office where a CDEP exists. It is providing officers with the specific function of assisting Aboriginal communities. Through this they will be able to develop their own initiative, we hope. At various times in this chamber we have heard from Senator Crichton-Browne and others comments about the need to get the right balance between self-determination and accountability, between unlimited funding and funding associated with strict parameters, as is the case with the CDEP. That is a matter that has troubled successive governments. One can only hope that we can learn from experience and in fact improve the situation as we go along.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

GROUP E

Department of Resources and Energy

Proposed expenditure, $147,129,000.