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Eviction of Aboriginal families - Wee Waa, NSW

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(Statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs» Senator J.L. Cavanagh)

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, today • deplored the action of the Narnoi Shire Council in proceeding with attempts to evict Aboriginal families from Tulladunna Reserve, near Wee Waa, N.S.W., after the N.S.W. Equity Court had asked it to defer action until suitable

alternative accommodation was found.

Water and electricity had been found turned off and the Council was believed to have instituted eviction proceedings.

Senator Cavanagh said that the Shire Council over the past two years had shown lack of genuine concern for Aboriginals and indeed had stated that welfare of the Aboriginal people that occupy these Reserves should be the responsibility of the State and. Australian Governments and not the function of the Council.

Officers of the Department cf Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra ■ had been told by the Shire President that the Council's decision to close the Reserve would not be reversed and no consultations would be entered into by the Council. ·

Legally, the Council had complete control of the camp. However, Senator Cavanagh said that the Council had been content earlier to accept funds from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to establish the various facilities on the Tulladunna Reserve. It was now seeking to close these facilities down during the cotton picking off-season and

evict the people for whom they had been constructed.

The Council advised on 18 March 1974 that, following the recent floods, restoration of the camp sites was required, and that this would be carried out with funds remaining from the Department's grant. It also stated that it would request further funds if there was insufficient to carry out the necessary work.

Senator Cavanagh indicated that he would be seeking a detailed audited account showing how and when grant monies were spent and how much, if any, remained.

Senator Cavanagh also stated that he bad approved a grant to enable the Aboriginals at Tulladunna to be housed until suitable accommodation could be found.