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Roper's double cross for aboriginals in custody



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Dr. Michael Wooldridge Federal Member for Chisholm Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

PRESS RELEASE

ROPER * S DOUBLE CROSS FOR ABORT GTNAT.S IN CUSTODY

"TOM ROPER SHOULD EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP IN RELATION TO HIS GOVERNMENT'S PERFORMANCE IN PROVIDING FOR THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY OF VICTORIA", SAID DR MICHAEL WOOLDRIDGE, FEDERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS

HE HAS SPOKEN IN BROAD EXPANSIVE TERMS ABOUT LABOR'S

PERFORMANCE, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO REAL SUPPORT THROUGH THE FUNDING OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLE HE HAS PERFECTED THE ART OF THE "DOUBLE CROSS".

THROUGH A STATE-WIDE SYSTEM OF ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY JUSTICE PANELS, ABORIGINAL VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ARRESTED BY THE POLICE.

THE REPORT INTO ABORIGINAL DEATHS IN CUSTODY RECOGNISED THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF SUCH A SERVICE IN HELPING TO AVOID FURTHER ABORIGINAL DEATHS IN CUSTODY.

HOWEVER, ALTHOUGH IT IS CLAIMED THAT FINANCE MINISTER SHEEHAN APPROVED THE 1991/92 GRANT OF $132,000 FOR THE PROGRAM, TOM ROPER IS GIVING PROGRAM MANAGERS AND THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY THE RUN AROUND WITH WHAT SOUNDS LIKE VERY FEEBLE EXCUSES AS

TO WHY THE MONEY IS NOT BEING PAID OVER.

THE HYPOCRISY OF THIS ACTION IS MONUMENTAL, WHEN ONE RECALLS THAT MR ROPER CRITICISED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR NOT - SETTING UP PROGRAMS IN RESPONSE TO THE DEATHS IN CUSTODY COMMISSION AND CLAIMED THAT THE VICTORIAN STATE GOVERNMENT HAD - RESPONDED BY ESTABLISHING THE COMMUNITY JUSTICE PANELS.

VOLUNTEERS FOR THE PROGRAM AND PEOPLE WITHIN THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY HAVE TOLD ME THAT WITH THE FESTIVE SEASON FAST APPROACHING THEY ARE VERY CONCERNED, BECAUSE THIS IS OFTEN THE TIME WHEN ARRESTS ARE HIGH AND WHEN ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN

CUSTODY ARE MOST AT RISK.

ONE GETS THE FEELING THAT LABOR GOVERNMENTS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN FUNDING PROGRAMS THAT RELY ON PEOPLE FREELY GIVING THEIR TIME, BUT ARE HAMSTRUNG BY THE UNION NOTION THAT ALL LABOUR

Electorate office: 1st Floor, 29-33 CARRINGTON ROAD, BOX HILL, VICTORIA, 3128. TEL. (03) 898 0675 FAX (03) 899 6237. Address mail to: P.O. BOX 31, BOX HILL, 3128. Canberra Office: SUITE R1 50. PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA, A C T. 2600 TEL. (06) 277 4651 FAX (06) 277 4850.

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