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Senator Cavanagh - Mr Vance Dickie discuss implications of the Woodward Report

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(joint statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator J.L. Cavanagh and the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Vance Dickie) '

The two Aboriginal Affairs Ministers met in Melbourne today to consider the im­ plications of the report of Mr Justice Woodward on Aboriginal land rights in so far as Victoria is concerned, and other matters.

In line with a recommendation of the report that existing reserves be transferred to the -ownership of Aboriginal people in fee simple, it was acknowledged that Victoria, prior to the setting up of the Commission in December, 1972, had transferred the owner­ ship of the remaining reserves in Victoria at Lake Tyers and Framlingham to the Abor­

iginal residents of those reserves. It was also recognised that Victoria had moved beyond the terms of the Woodward Report with regard to compensation. It had introduced a Housing Grants Scheme amounting to 51,500 per Aboriginal family to enable them to place a deposit on a home. - .

Mr Dickie said that since the introduction of this scheme in 1969,126 families had taken advantage of the grant. As a result Aboriginal home ownership in Victoria is significantly higher than any other state. He added that Victoria, in line with its progressive attitude towards Aboriginal Affairs, would co-operate in any investigation relating to claims on uhe land rights issue.

.On the matter of co-operation of the respective governments Senator Cavanagh stated that the positive approach adopted by the Victorian Government to the transfer of responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs was appreciated. The Ministers agreed, that the processes .introduced in Victoria in recent years aimed at self-determination and self­ help were exemplary.

They also agreed that the increasing variety of opportunities available to Aborigines today had of themselves created anxiety in some individuals and groups previously limited by the operation of paternalistic "welfare policies, which had created dependency and had restricted participants in the decision-making processes.

The Ministers also agreed to the establishment of a Regional Council of Aboriginals in Victoria with which the N.A.C.C. would be associated for the purpose of consultation with Aboriginals on claims to land.

After the Regional Committee Report' there will be further consultation between the two Ministers to ascertain how valid claims, if any, can be satisfied.