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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 998

Senator KILGARIFF(4.07) —I am very pleased to be able to make a few comments today on the tabling of the Aboriginal Hostels Ltd annual report. It is a report which I believe is of a very high standard. It details the success of this Aboriginal enterprise, and is a tribute to the people involved in Aboriginal hostels throughout Australia. No one is more deserving of credit for the performance of Aboriginal Hostels than I believe the Chairman of the organisation, Lois O'Donoghue, who has worked incredibly hard, along with her board of directors, and its Manager, Neville Perkins, to see Aboriginal Hostels Ltd realise its aims and objectives over the years. It has had a hard road to follow. Lois O'Donoghue is a great Aboriginal Australian whose work and dedication have been recognised through the awards of Commander of the British Empire, the CBE, and Australian Medal, AM. Those who work and deal with Lois on a day to day basis need no convincing of her commitment to the Aboriginal people.

The achievements of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd are impressive. As the report shows, the company has provided 180 hostels with some 4,019 beds across Australia during 1985-86. Accommodation was offered to some specific categories of people including tertiary and secondary students, supporting mothers, aged persons, transients and town campers and alcohol rehabilitees. The company also provides multi-purpose hostels. The company has managed to keep the cost of the accommodation it provides incredibly low, particularly in view of the inflationary problems facing the nation today. The average cost to Aborigines or Islanders staying at the company's hostels is something like $6.16 per night. Hostels are provided throughout Australia in cities and towns, in country areas and in remote localities. In spite of difficulties in some locations, the company has persisted and the graphs on page 3 of the report indicate the company's impressive history of growth over the past five years.

The difficulties in providing this sort of hostel accommodation have sometimes arisen out of vandalism and damage to the hostels. I live alongside the Sid Ross Hostel in Alice Springs and I am well aware of the activities of the hostel. I have also, unfortunately, seen the hostel suffer at the hands of vandals. Thankfully, it has been renovated and fully restored by Aboriginal Hostels to provide comfortable and adequate accommodation for Aboriginal people. It appears now to be under very responsible management.

As I have said, the report of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd is an impressive one. It is one that other Aboriginal organisations would do well to follow. It has accounted for itself and its activities fully in its annual report, as clearly indicated by the Auditor-General. Unfortunately, there are still Aboriginal organisations that do not display this same high level of accountability and cannot boast the same impressive performance as Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. I can only recommend to them the example set by Aboriginal Hostels and urge them to follow this excellent example.

I have spoken before on the subject of accountability in this phase of activities in Australia because a vast amount of money is spent in Aboriginal areas and there is far too little accountability. There is too much wastage. Money is urgently needed down in the dust, as I describe it, where Aboriginal people are suffering from malnutrition and living in poor circumstances, but the money is not getting down to them. The Government should ensure that other Aboriginal organisations are accountable to the same extent as Aboriginal Hostels Ltd, which has a very high standard of accountability.

I hope that Aboriginal Hostels Ltd will be able to continue to extend its role of providing the many facets of accommodation, both in remote areas and in towns and cities, and at the same time continue to increase its mainline activities. It is under continuing pressure to provide more rooms and facilities. I commend the organisation for its 1985-86 annual report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.