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Now the men say sorry -

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Now the men say sorry

The World Today - Friday, 4 July , 2008 12:20:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

ELEANOR HALL: Earlier this year the Prime Minister delivered a national apology to Aboriginal
Australians. This week there was an Indigenous apology of another kind.

In a community near Alice Springs, 400 Aboriginal men met to issue a collective apology to the
women of their community for the violence and abuse they'd inflicted on them. Now the men are
looking at how to reduce the violence.

Charlie King is a member of the Northern Territory's Family and Community Advisory Service and he
has spent the last three years talking to Aboriginal men in remote communities about how to do
this.

In Alice Springs, he spoke to Sara Everingham.

CHARLIE KING: I think like any apology - and in particular the Federal Government apology - it is
of no value unless it is backed up by real action and in this case, real action by men themselves.
That is what is really needed here, men to lead the way.

Men to show everybody that they feel very strongly about this issue and particularly women and
children; that men can stand up and say we are going to take a real stance here.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The men have also said that they feel like they've been unfairly stereotyped as
violent or as child abusers. Do you think that confuses their message at all?

CHARLIE KING: Well, maybe it does, but I think that I agree with that. I mean I have met so many
wonderful, strong Aboriginal men in the communities who want so much to see a better life for
themselves and their families and their children.

The strong men of the Northern Territory, the strong Indigenous men of the Northern Territory who
stood there, shaking their fingers in my face and saying, "No more, no more. This has to stop".

I mean they felt strongly about it but what they need is good strong support to help them make
their mark on all of this.

I mean I think there is some wonderful men out there in the Aboriginal community and the
non-Aboriginal community who want to do something, but I just don't think that they feel part of
this.

SARA EVERINGHAM: We've heard a lot from women, Aboriginal women about child abuse and violence in
communities, why haven't we heard so much from men?

CHARLIE KING: Nobody speaks to men about these issues. Men see it as a women's issue. I mean to ...
it is ludicrous to think that women can solve this problem. They can't solve this problem.

Women largely are the victims and children are the victims. It's like asking children to fix the
problem about child abuse. Men applaud the effort that women have made. Men feel happy that women
have been able to stand strong through all of this time, but men now recognise that they need to
stand alongside the women and deal with this awful problem.

SARA EVERINGHAM: If there was one thing that you would like to see happen straightaway as a result
of your consultations with men in communities, what would it be?

CHARLIE KING: Well, let's do it now. Let's engage men on those communities and women on those
communities. Let's put them together and ask them to come up with a solution for their individual
communities on how they can stop the violence that is happening.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Charlie King who has been advising Aboriginal men about how to reduce violence
in remote communities. He was speaking to Sara Everingham.