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Read the transcript of Matthew Carney's report "Return to Aurukun", first broadcast Monday 2 May

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Date: 02/05/2011

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: The year - 1978. The place - Aurukun, a remote Aboriginal community at
the very top of Australia. The story - Aboriginal conflict with government, with a painful sequel
to come but today more than a ray of hope.

Welcome to Four Corners.

This is the program's 50th year, a year in which we're going to reflect back from time to time on
some of the landmark issues covered by Four Corners over the decades, issues that keep recurring.

Most Australians were oblivious to the struggle of Indigenous communities when Four Corners went to
the Aboriginal reserve of Box Ridge near Casino in northern New South Wales in its first year,

After that story went to air, the premier Bob Askin, had to convene a special Cabinet meeting to
deal with the eruption of press and public outrage.

In the decades since then, government after government, state and Federal, has produced wave after
wave of policy reform. Promises made, billions spent but the gap between Indigenous Australia and
the rest on key measures like health and education and mortality rates, remains profound.

Tonight we reflect on the dramatic ups and downs of the community of Aurukun on Queensland's Cape
York. Four Corners has now been there three times in four decades, with stories of struggle,
violent breakdown and despair, and finally some hope.

Aurukun today is part of an experiment in radical social and welfare reform, which after all the
policy failures of decades past, finally seems to be bearing fruit.

Matthew Carney reports on Aurukun's generation of hope.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: Aurukun is a wild and isolated community that sits near the mouth of the
Archer River on Cape York Peninsula. What happens in this remote spot ricochets across Australia.

Its statistics have always been news - highest murder rate and the lowest school attendance records
in Australia. But Aurukun is now a community in recovery, a testing ground for new policy. How it
came to this is an extraordinary story.

Four Corners first came to Aurukun in 1978. The place was vibrant and functioning.

MARYANNE SMITH, FOUR CORNERS REPORTER (Excerpt from 1978): The day's business at Aurukun starts
with the crows and Alfred Taisman sharpening his butcher's knife. A former stockman, he's run a
successful business for many years now.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Back then the people of Aurukun had emerged from the iron fist of the missionary
days. Presbyterian missionaries had uprooted five Wik tribes and brought them here. One man looms
over that period - the reverend William MacKenzie. He ruled Aurukun for more than 40 years till

SILAS WOLMBY, WIK ELDER: Well MacKenzie, when I see that fella, he had a gun in his right hand, a
bible in his left, and me and my people, he treated us very bad.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Eighty-four year old Silas Wolmby is the only surviving Indigenous elder of those
who spoke out in the 1978 program. He was one of the leaders for self rule and land rights.

SILAS WOLMBY (Excerpt from Four Corners, 1978): We want the land back. We're not asking government
for thousands and thousands of dollars but we are asking them for our land, which is, which was
taken long ago and we want that land back.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The push for self rule in Aurukun was met with solid opposition in the form of the
Queensland premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his minister for everything Russ Hinze.

The government plan was to take control of the land from the mission and enforce their rule by
establishing a local council to open up the area to mining.

To justify the takeover, the Queensland government claimed a reign of terror had descended on
Aurukun. On the ground, the Four Corners reporter Maryanne Smith found no evidence of this and put
it to the minister.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1978)

MARYANNE SMITH: Many people at Aurukun maintain that there was never a reign of terror and that
such claims in fact were simply an excuse for the state government to...

RUSS HINZE, QLD MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOV'T, 1974-87: I wouldn't think that the premier travelled that
distance to make up stories. I think that he is regarded throughout Australia as being a gentleman
that says what he thinks. He hasn't got to travel up there to make up any statements.

MARYANNE SMITH: But if there was a reign of terror, why was there no investigation?

RUSS HINZE: But you keep coming back about if there was a reign of terror. I am saying to you that
it's not a very good place to live.

(End of excerpt)

MATTHEW CARNEY: Russ Hinze blamed the resistance in Aurukun on outsiders.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1978)

MARYANNE SMITH: John Adams, an ordained minister, is employed by the Uniting Church. He's been
there two and a half years and speaks one of the Aboriginal languages.

JOHN ADAMS, UNITING CHURCH, AURUKUN 1976-84: The long term objective of the Queensland government,
well in my opinion the long term objective is to put Aboriginal people under the thumb of the
dominant white society and what that really means is the destruction of Aboriginal culture.

(End of excerpt)

MATTHEW CARNEY: John Adams lived in Aurukun until 1984 but he remains deeply connected to the
place. He was the last missionary here but a very different kind of reverend. To the Queensland
government in 1978 he was the enemy.

JOHN ADAMS: They had a few choice names for me and some others, drop outs, stirrers, communists,
yes. We were there to support Aurukun people's strong desire to, number one, oppose mining, number
two, reclaim their association with their own land through the development of homeland and
outstation communities. That was seen by the Bjelke-Petersen Government as tantamount to land
rights, you know people actually going and sitting on their land.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Although the Queensland government succeeded in setting up a local council, the
people of Aurukun ultimately won their land rights back.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: (To John Adams) Hello brother.

JOHN ADAMS: Nice to see you.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: Nice to see you too.


MATTHEW CARNEY: Adams and the Uniting Church helped the community mount two important legal battles
- the Pankina and Koowarta cases - against the Queensland government. These early cases in the 70s
and 80s laid much of the legal framework for the success of the Mabo and Wik native title cases to

MATTHEW CARNEY: There was also another equally important battle going on in 1978 - to keep the grog
out of Aurukun.

MARYANNE SMITH (Excerpt from Four Corners, 1978): A juvenile is dealt a few cuffs from taking beer
from a white contractor's camp.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Local leaders had seen the damage done at nearby mining town of Weipa and wanted no
liquor canteen at Aurukun.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1978)

BARRY NGAKYANKWOKKA, WIK ELDER: We don't want canteen to open because our children will be
starving. People will be on grog all the time. 'Cause I seen this thing happen at Weipa. They was
squealing for money, clothing for their children.

MARYANNE SMITH: (To Russ Hinze) Why is it then that you've suggested that they can have a canteen?

RUSS HINZE: Yeah but now did I suggest that?

MARYANNE SMITH: Well indeed they said you did. They said that you told them now they have local
government they're entitled to have a wet canteen...

RUSS HINZE: If they want it. You see the Australian, the Queensland government are not going to be
seen in the eyes of the world of taking a part of Queensland and saying you can't take liquor

MARYANNE SMITH: But the people at Aurukun say they don't want a wet canteen...


MARYANNE SMITH: It was you who suggested it.

RUSS HINZE: No, I didn't. I said if they want it.

(End of excerpt)

JOHN ADAMS: Oh, well remember a meeting with Russ Hinze and the community leaders in the old
mission house meeting area where Russ Hinze said to all of us assembled there should be a canteen
here at Aurukun, whites have the right to drink.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Aurukun held out against a canteen for seven years. The vast majority always
rejected the idea. But in 1985 some drinkers were elected to council and with no community
consultation and after meetings with Carlton and United Breweries the decision was made to open

When Four Corners returned in 1991 the grog was totally out of control. With no cultural tradition
of alcohol use, drunkenness was rampant. The community had plunged so deeply that people in Aurukun
say the gates of hell had been opened.

DAVID MARR, FOUR CORNERS REPORTER (Excerpt from Four Corners, 1991): Grog is now a life and death
issue in Aurukun. Since the canteen opened five years ago, serious assaults have become commonplace
here, and there have been nine homicides. It's a crime rate far worse than the worst American

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Wik fighting spirit had turned on itself and the worst brutality was dealt to
loved ones or kin. This was a community imploding. The murder rate was 120 times the Queensland

Rape, child assaults and neglect were also endemic. What resulted was a complete breakdown in
discipline, respect and authority. The old belief systems that kept it all in place collapsed.

DAVID MARR (Excerpt from Four Corners, 1991): In these streets, Four Corners saw fist fights so
violent that the crew was unable to film in safety. (Aboriginal man cursing at camera) It's so
violent here the children often don't know where they can safely sleep at night. We saw them
roaming about looking for quiet houses, perhaps someone to feed them.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The community in 1991 looked much poorer and sicker than it did in 1978. Money
wasn't the problem - the town was awash with dole and pension cheques. It was the welfare payments,
the sit down money that was funding the drinking. The equal pay laws meant jobs for the men had
disappeared. This loss of dignity and money for nothing was a deadly mix.

The Four Corners team spent a day in the Aurukun school. Attendance depended on how much grog was
being drunk in town.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1991)

DAVID MARR: Do people in your families drink?


STUDENT 2: Yeah, yeah, all the time. Dad go silly, silly.

STUDENT 3: They smash windows. They smash everything.

DAVID MARR: Who steals the cars in Aurukun?

MANY STUDENTS: This boy, Johnny (pointing to one boy).

JOHNNY: No, not me. This boy (points at another boy).

DAVID MARR: Why do people steal cars, in Aurukun?

MANY STUDENTS: Because they mad. They're mad. Yeah they're mad.

(End of excerpt)

MATTHEW CARNEY: Last Month we tracked those kids down. Now aged about 30 they still live in Aurukun
but most didn't want to go on camera.

(To Aboriginal woman) Where have they gone?

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: Other there. Gambling. Can you not take the gambling?

MATTHEW CARNEY: As adults they can't read or write and three of the four boys interviewed have
spent most of their lives in and out of prison.

(To Aboriginal woman) Can you go and have a look and see if we can find them then?

They're part of what people in Aurukun refer to as the lost generation - anyone born after the
canteen was opened in 1985. In 1991, the reporter David Marr interviewed Aboriginal academic Marcia
Langton to make sense of it all. She was one of the first to speak out against the grog.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1991)

DAVID MARR: She's an anthropologist and an Aboriginal willing to run the risk that her work might
reinforce the worst white prejudices against blacks.

problem of alcohol as we know it today simply did not exist. In 15 years, conditions in Aboriginal
communities have deteriorated beyond belief because of the availability of alcohol. And standard
behaviour, standard Aboriginal ways of behaving have simply gone for the younger generation,
because they see people rolling around drunk and behaving abominably.

(End of excerpt)

MATTHEW CARNEY: The 90s were the culmination of new won freedoms and liberalism in Aboriginal
affairs like self determination and the right to drink. So Langton says the hard questions and
tough policy decisions were never taken to stop the rivers of grog. She blames the Queensland
government for the disaster at Aurukun.

MARCIA LANGTON: The Queensland government had clearly taken the view that it was not necessary to
apply the Liquor Act to canteens in Aboriginal communities. It was necessary to apply the law that
applied to other Queenslanders that alcohol should not be served to intoxicated persons and so
forth and so on.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Why? That seems...

MARCIA LANGTON: Well indeed, a good question, why? It's difficult not to come to the conclusion
that the failure to bring the alcohol canteens into compliance with the Liquor Act was an act of

MATTHEW CARNEY: Change starts when some in the community make their voices heard. Four Corners
documented the start of this process. It was women like Alison Woolla and Peggy Kalinda who took a
stand against the grog.

(Excerpt from Four Corners, 1991)

DAVID MARR: Some Aurukun women brought us here to talk. Their leader is Alison Woolla. She was once
chairman of the Aurukun Shire Council. In a community that divides between drinkers and
non-drinkers, she's a non-drinker.

ALISON WOOLLA, AURUKUN RESIDENT: A lot of things that gone wrong, and we ladies not happy about it.
Kids run away, they hungry, they frightened because their father, brother, uncle, they are violent
when they're drinking. They get really angry.

(End of excerpt)

MATTHEW CARNEY: Twenty years on, we brought Alison Woolla's daughters Kerry and Rhonda, to the same
location to show them the film. Also Peggy Kalinda's niece, Phyllis Yunkaporta.

There was grief at seeing their deceased mother again. Everyone in Aurukun lives with the trauma
from the grog time.

KERRY TAMWOY, ALISON WOOLLA'S DAUGHTER: Well I'm one of her legacies. I'm here, I have a voice. I'm
not afraid to say what I think and feel, just like my mum.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Kerry Tamwoy believes the salvation of Aurukun doesn't lie in government handouts.
She runs one of the few successful businesses in town and wants it to expand so she can employ more

KERRY TAMWOY: It's not the millions of dollars government is spending on putting up centres in this
community or the programs they set up for people to follow, that's not the solution. The solution
is the individual itself, a change of heart, you know. A change, you know, I don't want to do
alcohol anymore. You know, a change for the better. That's the only way Aurukun will ever become a
better place.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Phyllis Yunkaporta is now the Deputy Mayor of Aurukun and one of the main forces
behind welfare reform and better education.

PHYLLIS YUNKAPORTA, PEGGY KALINDA'S NIECE: We see them living on, our memories of them, it's still
cemented into our hearts and minds. So we move on with a better view of the future. As women we
want to put it right for our children's future, what we want for them.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Eventually the strong women of 1991 succeeded. After a long battle, the booze was
banned and the tavern was finally closed in 2008. Aurukun Mayor Neville Pootchemunka says it will
stay that way.

NEVILLE POOTCHEMUNKA, AURUKUN MAYOR: I think that reopening that tavern will cause a lot of

IMATTHEW CARNEY: It's a big source of money for the council though.

NEVILLE POOTCHEMUNKA: It's a big source for the money for the council but there's a lot of avenue
that we can actually look at how we can get revenue to the council.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So can you guarantee that the canteen will not open again?

NEVILLE POOTCHEMUNKA: Well I guarantee that the tavern will won't be reopened again.

NOEL PEARSON, DIRECTOR, CAPE YORK INSTITUTE: There's a very definite correlation between access to
grog and the level of harm and the less access to grog the less harm - absolute correlation between
the two.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So cut supply.

NOEL PEARSON: You got, cutting supply has brought harm levels way down and that that's absolutely
the lesson.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Cape York leader Noel Pearson says Aurukun was the place that made him. The Wik
elders set him on his course.

NOEL PEARSON: That's where my inspiration came from. It didn't come from my own hometown or any
other community in the cape. It came from Aurukun. They were the ones who led Cape York on land
rights, which is where I started my work, so I learned at the feet of the elders in Aurukun about
standing up for Indigenous land and Indigenous culture.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Marcia Langton also worked with Noel Pearson and the Wik elders.

MARCIA LANGTON: They would never ever give up and you know you have to say about them because they
would never ever give up, they won. They won both the Wik cases. But you see, the Wik cases came
after a very, very long history of litigation.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But working in Aurukun, Pearson started to realise that land rights was only the
first battle to be won. So he turned his attentions to rebuilding the broken communities of Cape

NOEL PEARSON: Many of the objectives that we'd set ourselves in the beginning - we got the land
rights together, we we're getting native title, we're having wins but the social situation was
unravelling. So when I made the switch to say well, yeah, the land is good but we got to tackle the
social and economic situation of the people and I realised that you know we couldn't just abandon
the challenge at Aurukun.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Noel Pearson and his Cape York Institute would start the next era in Indigenous
affairs - welfare reform. It was the most radical shift in Aboriginal policy in a generation.

It's about Indigenous Australians taking responsibility for their problems and also the solutions.
The aim of Pearson's model is to move people off welfare and the grog and into education and
employment to rebuild social norms.

The Federal Government's own emergency intervention in the Northern Territory in 2007 was based on
some of Pearson's ideas.

JOHN HOWARD, FMR. PRIME MINISTER (21 June 2007): We're going to introduce a series of welfare
reforms designed to stem the flow of cash going towards alcohol abuse and to ensure that the funds
meant to be used for children's welfare are actually used for that purpose.

NOEL PEARSON: (Addressing Aurukun community) You have within your reach hear in this community the
potential to be great again.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Unlike the federal intervention, Pearson spent a lot of time building community
consensus and ownership. For five years now he's been operating his own welfare reform programs in
four Cape York communities, including Aurukun.

On the ground in Aurukun, some success stories are starting to emerge. Kayleen Chevathun has given
up the grog and is getting her four kids to school. Her welfare income was taken away and

KAYLEEN CHEVATHUN, AURUKUN RESIDENT: They put me on a basic card and income manage and it helped me
a lot. That's why the kids they're going to school every day now.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So you can have money to get them-

KAYLEEN CHEVATHUN: Yep. Provide food for them and clothing, yeah.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Now she can see a future for her children. Before, she couldn't.

Kayleen has been attending the Family Responsibilities Commission or FRC for a couple of years.
It's a key plank in the welfare reform program in Aurukun.

AURUKUN FRC COMISSIONER: Kayleen has come in to discuss how the family's all going with the school.

MATTHEW CARNEY: It's a forum that is made up of a magistrate and six locally appointed respected
elders or commissioners. Importantly they speak in the community's first language, Wik.

AURUKUN FRC COMISSIONER 2 (translated): How are you coping now?

KAYLEEN CHEVATHUN (translated): Good now.

AURUKUN FRC COMISSIONER 2 (translated): Has income management helped you?

KAYLEEN CHEVATHUN (translated): Yes, it's alright.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The FRC was set up to get the kids to school, build parenting skills lost in the
grog years and to deal with drug and alcohol problems. Today there making sure Kayleen is staying
on course.

ADA WOOLLA, AURUKUN FRC COMISSIONER: I am proud of Kayleen and really for what they did. They went
through a very hard time, you know, raising the kids, sending them to school.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The cases go on all day and the commissioners begin the tough work of
rehabilitating the families of Aurukun. We can't identify the clients but it's mostly about chronic

ADA WOOLLA: We just can't push education from our children. You know, you had education, I had
education, we all had education. But please don't push it away from your child.

CONVENER: It's against the law to keep the kids away from school. The government tells us they've
gotta go to school, right? And that's this little boy in grade one, if he misses school, gets out
of the habit of school, you're going to have the trouble that a lot of them have now as
16-year-olds where they say to their parents, I'm not going to school. You can't have excuses,
they're just not good enough.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The FRC has the power to order people to attend support or training classes. If
this doesn't change behaviour then they have their income managed by the commissioners. The last
resort is compulsory quarantining of up to 75 per cent of a parent's welfare payment with the
issuing of a basic card.

ADA WOOLLA: If we see that he had missed lot of school, you know, it's not our fault. You're
responsible. We might put you on basic card, we might put you on basic card. We will, if for next

MATTHEW CARNEY: One reason for the success is the FRC is restoring local authority, bringing back
the discipline that's been lost.

ADA WOOLLA: You know sometimes it can be very hard but you know you look at a person very closely
and if this person needs help, well you need to push it through to them.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The FRC is a kind of one stop shop where problems can be addressed in a consistent
and comprehensive manner. What's also making the difference is that the FRC is fully integrated
with all the agencies in town. Today the team is meeting with school staff and they're working out
how to deal with the problem children.

PATRICK MALLETT, PRINCIPAL, CAPE YORK ACADEMY, AURUKUN: In the last two weeks we've had assaults
against teachers with. We've done SP4s on her because I'm very worried she is associating with
children petrol sniffing. She's done break and enters on the school.

TEACHER, CAPE YORK ACADEMY, AURUKUN: She's been smoking in the toilets.

PATRICK MALLETT: Smoking in the toilets, chronic truanting, inciting other children to truant.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Each child has a case plan and action is taken. Rarely does a child slip through
this net.

It's clear there'll be no quick fix in Aurukun. Building the road back will be a massive task and
it's done one step at a time.

The barge still comes in once a week but these days no alcohol is offloaded here. Despite Aurukun
being a dry community, the booze still comes in midnight car runs from Weipa, but less frequently
than before.

And when it does the town still goes haywire. We too witnessed brutal acts of violence on our
recent trip. A man tried to bash his pregnant partner with a large lump of timber and a young man
attacked this car with an axe.

There are still law and order problems in Aurukun. The kids are still doing break and enters, and
at the shop most of all.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So how old are they, these kids that are breaking in?

KATHERAN PETTIGREW, AURUKUN STORE MANAGER: I really can't sort of say, maybe around 15, 16, that
sort of age group, yes.

MATTHEW CARNEY: And so do they more inventive and and try different things all the time, or...?

KATHERAN PETTIGREW: Yeah, their ingenuity is amazing. I think they outdo us at anything.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But from an Aurukun perspective things are getting better. Crime has decreasing to
a third of what it was since Four Corners was last here in 1991. Noel Pearson knows to remake
Aurukun will be a generational effort.

NOEL PEASRON: The Aurukun people are, I consider, very, very serious people and they're also in
serious trouble and you know, I see that the work we've been doing is is about showing that these
so called discreet Aboriginal communities located on Aboriginal lands can be the best places in the
world to live. That's my vision, you know.

PATRICK MALLETT: (At school) Good morning Children.

CHILDREN: Good Morning Mr Mallet.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The other major focus of welfare reform in Aurukun is the school. An enormous
amount of effort and resource have been invested here. The next generation is the community's
greatest hope.

Before lessons start the attendance rolls are checked and teeth are brushed.

At the beginning of 2010 a new teaching system was implemented - Direct Instruction. It was brought
in to deal with the appalling rates of literacy at the school. It's old fashioned phonics but the
lessons are tightly structured and delivered with high energy and pace. Initially the new method
came with controversy as it was imported from America but when the results started to come in that
was quelled.

PATRICK MALLETT: Two years ago our highest child in the school, in terms of literacy and numeracy
would've been around the year four limit and there would've been one child at that limit. And
that's for a school that goes from preschool to year 10. Now it's a situation where we've got many
children at reading age level appropriate to their age.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Before welfare reform started in Aurukun this school had the worst attendance
figures in the state of Queensland. Only about a third of all children were turning. Now that
figure has doubled. Changes at the school and the FRC have contributed to the progress. But the
school's case managers can take some credit too. They act like a kind of quick response team.

BRYCE COXELL, CASE MANAGER: Aanesha - absent. Cythia - absent. Zantia - absent. On to year eight.
Jaden - absent.

MATTHEW CARNEY: As soon as they know who's not at school on any given day they're on to it.

(To Rebecca Richards) It's really on the case, literally.

REBECCA RICHARDS, AURUKUN STUDENT CASE MANAGEMENT: Definitely. I guess it's about consistency and
it's about creating social norms. A number of the families that we've been doing this for years,
those children now come to school and we no longer have to visit them.

MATTHEW CARNEY: They compile a list, get in the car and go out into the community to find them.

BRYCE COXELL: Are you home Patrick? Hello Patrick?

MATTHEW CARNEY: Sometimes it's a bit like detective work to figure out the kinship relationships.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Is Jane or Patrick at home?

MAN: Um no.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Do you know which other house they might be at at the moment?

ABORIGINAL MAN: Nah I don't know.

REBECCA RICHARDS: You haven't seen them? Okay, thank you. See you.

What we do is we then go to another house that we think that that family might be. In the case of
this particular child we've been up to five different houses in one day to look for mum and dad.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The case workers get to know the families, build a rapport and establish trust to
make sure the kids get to school.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Did you hear about Leticia coming out of school early yesterday afternoon?


REBECCA RICHARDS: What's going on? Did they mention why? What her behaviour was for her to be
brought home?

ABORIGINAL MAN 2: I don't know.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Can you have a talk to her about it? If it's something that we can do to help her
stay at school during the day then she won't need to run away and she'll just be at school all day
and then we wouldn't have to visit you. Do you think you or Bettina could have a chat to her and
find out?


REBECCA RICHARDS: That would be great.

MATTHEW CARNEY: They're working on the frontline of truancy and they've had an impact. Now they are
dealing with the hard core cases, the most difficult to crack. The year five boy at this house has
only been to school three times this year.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Can I still talk to you about **** though? (Door slams) No. Okay.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Is that a kind of usual response? I mean I know we're here but I, do they, what do
they, is that a kind of usual response?

REBECCA RICHARDS: With that particular family yes.

MATTHEW CARNEY: So they just slam the door.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Yeah if we're lucky enough to get them in the front yard. Sometimes they won't
even answer the door.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But you keep on going.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Definitely. We've got to have some kind of consistency about getting kids to
school so yeah. All righty.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Next they visit a 10-year-old boy who's never really been to school at all. They're
worried about him because he can't speak English.

REBECCA RICHARDS: Okay what are we doing with **** in the meantime? Is he going to listen to
anybody about coming to school here?

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: I'm doing all my best.

REBECCA RICHARDS: I know you're trying ****, I do know that.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: What can I do? Drag him to school?

REBECCA RICHARDS: You know what, maybe it's an option at this point. If he's not coming to school
any other way...


REBECCA RICHARDS: Maybe that's how we get him there.

REBECCA RICHARDS: (To young children) Do you want to hop in the car and we'll take you back to
school now? (Child shakes his head) What are you doing home?

MATTHEW CARNEY: They'll be back on the streets tomorrow. What motivates Rebecca Richards and Bryce
Coxell is that they are seeing real changes.

REBECCA RICHARDS: You know that boys in year two have to go to school.

NOEL PEARSON: At the end of the day if people ask me, what is your economic development strategy? I
say the education of the children at the end of the day. You know my absolute economic development
strategy is the successful education of the children.

MATTHEW CARNEY: To keep the educational momentum going, the plan is to send all these kids to board
at high school in the foreign worlds to them of Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney.

Austin Marpoondin was one of the first to be sent away. He's now in year 10 at the prestigious
Brisbane Boys Grammar School. He comes back for the school holidays and wants to be as a positive
role model for the kids.

AUSTIN MARPOONDIN, STUDENT: Yeah, I see a lot of violence out there, but I just, yeah I look at it
sometimes and yeah and then I think, I think to myself what am I going to do? Am I going to be like
them or just do it the right way?

PATRICK MALLETT: (To school children) Okay, our wonderful award ceremony where we will be
acknowledging the wonderful achievements of the children here.

TEACHER: These people when I call your name come and stand up. Hezekiah, Braydon, Errol...

MATTHEW CARNEY: Sending these kids away for high school is sending them away from Aurukun's
dysfunctions and it also gives them new and greater opportunity. It's the last and critical
component in welfare reform.

Pearson's vision is to see these kids prosper in both Aboriginal and mainstream worlds.

NOEL PEARSON: None of these places in the cape, and Aurukun included, are viable without a
significant proportion of the people having the ability to go, what we call orbit out into the
world to work and pursue careers and so on you know.

I think about 30, 40 per cent of the population are going to have to have the capacity to go to
Weipa, go to Cairns, go to places where jobs are and so on and so we've been pushing the notion of
orbits you know, mobility as a, as a vital ingredient in the viability of a remote place.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Silas Wolmby has lived the story of Aurukun - the mission days, the land rights
struggle and the grog time and now the era of welfare reform.

As one of the last senior holders of traditional law, he believes real healing can only start when
the people of Aurukun return to their own lands. Only then can respect be restored. Silas is
preparing a garden to make sure his grandchildren and their children will always come to the earth
of their ancestors.

SILAS WOLMBY: When my God, my Lord want to take me home well that coconut's going to be, for them
it continues for their children's children. Not only that coconut but mangoes as well.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Silas Wolmby is passing on the traditional Wik ways but he fears the younger
generation might lose theses old laws and customs while not succeeding in the white fella world as
well. He trusts the land - his country - has the answers.

SILAS WOLMBY: To keep it strong and listen to the law and your memory got to be clear but the
spirit is there, it's still alive, it's watching you. You see, you and I might be dead but he's
watching you, see?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The struggle for Aurukun and perhaps all remote Indigenous communities will be how
to live in two worlds and retain their dignity and identity in both.

KERRY O'BRIEN: One small community, step by painful step, fighting to close the gap.

I'd like to acknowledge in closing, the Logies win for reporter Sarah Ferguson and producer Michael
Doyle last night for their expose last year of the people smuggling racket in Indonesia, called
Smuggler's Paradise.

It's Sarah's second Logie in two years, and another good moment in our anniversary year.

Next week on Four Corners, after the breaking news today that Osama bin Laden had been killed in
Pakistan, we will have a report from deep inside Afghanistan alleging a significant resurgence of
al Qaeda, and disputing American claims that the al Qaeda presence there has all but gone.

Until then, goodnight.