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Govt heads to Arnhem Land for community cabin -

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ELEANOR HALL: Indigenous Australians on the Gove Peninsula will today present Federal Cabinet
ministers with a statement calling for an end to key elements of the Northern Territory
intervention and for the Federal Government to set up a future fund for Indigenous Australians.

The ministers are in the Northern Territory for a community cabinet meeting in Yirrkala on the east
coast of Arnhem Land.

Speaking before the meeting, the Prime Minster said his Government is determined to improve
Indigenous health and welfare.

Sabra Lane is at Yirrkala and joins us now.

Sabra, was the Northern Territory intervention raised at the community cabinet meeting this

SABRA LANE: Aspects of it were raised, Eleanor, it is fair to say. Certainly, one of the questions
that was put to the Prime Minister was that it was particularly unfair to take away some of the
payments that these people received through the quarantining of welfare. If for example they missed
an interview because they were away at a funeral, or because they were ill. In that instance, some
of their payments are stopped for eight-week periods.

It was explained that federal public servants, if they are sick for at least one day or even three
days, that they are given a period of grace whereby they don't have to present the formal
certificate from a doctor to prove that they were sick, and they were just asking for equality in
terms of that particular aspect of the intervention.

Also, other key parts of this document ask the Federal Government to set aside some of the
$40-billion in the future fund to set up a separate Indigenous fund, if you like, to help fix some
of the housing and health issues throughout the remote communities here in the Northern Territory.

ELEANOR HALL: So how did the Prime Minister and his Indigenous Affairs Minister respond to these

SABRA LANE: They said that at the moment, as has been previous announced, that the whole
intervention is under a review and this will be part of the review that is being undertaken at the
moment. And the Prime Minister certainly did acknowledge that it seemed particularly harsh.

ELEANOR HALL: And what more do we know about this statement calling for a curtailing of the
intervention and for a future fund for Indigenous Australians?

SABRA LANE: It is a seven-page document, Eleanor, it hasn't been given to the Prime Minister yet.
We're expecting that that will be handed to him shortly. You might be able to hear at the moment,
there's a ceremony happening right in front of the Prime Minister right now, and we've got about 20
Indigenous men with ochre and white paint daubed on their bodies, they are singing, they're
chanting, they've got message sticks. One of them lunged at the Prime Minister just a couple of
minutes ago, as part of the performance; it was quite a spectacular sight.

That document of intent will be given to him once these formalities are over.

ELEANOR HALL: And will the ministers be spending much time in the community beyond this cabinet

SABRA LANE: Yes they will be. After they have lunch here in this park, it's slightly overcast and
it's slightly drizzling here, and to my left here at the moment they are cooking a barbecue,
they're turning the snags, they will be having a barbecue here in the park. It's another chance to
informally meet with locals here to talk about the issues that are of concern to them.

They are going to be here for another couple of hours, and then later in the afternoon, they're
going to take a short bus trip to the nearby community of Nhulunbuy, where again they are going to
have an afternoon tea, and that will be an opportunity for the 15 ministers that have travelled up
here with the Prime Minister today to meet with locals and to talk with them about housing and
education issues.

ELEANOR HALL: Sabra Lane in Yirrkala, thank you.