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Report by the Committee of Inquiry into the role of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee



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STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS, THE HON. IAN VINER, M.P.

REPORT BY THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE . .

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, tabled the Report of the'Inquiry into the Role of the: National Aboriginal Consultative Committee in Parliament todya. . ·

The Committee, headed by Dr L.R. Hiatt, was set up by the Government in April this year. . . .

The report recommends the establishment of a statutory Commission . . for Aboriginal Development by 1980 to function as an advisory body to the Minister with the Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as its Chairman. . ■ .

" In addition, the Commission would comprise nine Aboriginal or.Torres Strait Island members, five of whom would be delegates from a reformed N.A.C.C to be known as the "National Aboriginal Congress". . " . . '

In the meantime, the report proposes the setting up of an interim Commission for Aboriginal Development. ’ ; . .

The report concludes that the N.A.C.C. had not functioned as a - consultative committee and to that extent had not been effective in providing advice to Government .on policies and programs in Aboriginal Affairs. . .

Further, the great majority-of Aboriginals knew practically nothing of : the formal activities of the N.A.C.C. and were thus in no position to judge whether it had represented their opinions adequately to the Government or not. . ■ · ’ ' ; . . . . . - ■ · ■·.■.'■ · · ’. ’ . .

The report recommends that the body should continue its existence with certain changes to its composition, procedures and functions. These would include: . ' . . ■ - :

greater representation for tribal people in South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland through an increase in the number of electorates from 41 to 46 and a redistribution in N.S.W., Victoria and Tasmania;

. plenary sessions of the N.A.C.C. be held only once a year . . . . ' with State Branch and National Executive meetings four times . a year; .

the next elections for the N.A.C.C. be held during the northern dry season of 1977 for a term of three years;

official recognition being to the appropriate role of an . N.A.C.C. member as being that of the politician; .

funds and staff be provided for the N.A.C.C. for the production of a quarterly newsletter and that consideration be given to

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community radio, film and video as means of improving . _ communications between the N.A.C.C. and the Aboriginal people.

Mr Viner said recommendations contained in the report would be given careful consideration by the Government at an early date. .

I have invited the President of the N.A.C.C., Mr Jim Stanley, to call the Executive of the N.A.C.C. together next week to discuss the report with me, the Minister said.

Dr Hiatt, who chaired the Committee of Inquiry, is a reader in Anthropology at Sydney University and Chairman of the Australian Institute . of Aboriginal Studies. The three other members of the committee were . Aboriginal. They were Mr Jim Stanley, President and acting Secretary of the N.A.C.C., Miss Lois O'Donoghue, a former director of the Department of . Aboriginal Affairs in South Australia, and Mr M. Luther, a community

adviser to the Hooker Creek Community in the Northern Territory.

Mr Viner complimented the members of the Committee for the report . . they presented to him. It is an invaluable document in the history of Government consideration of Aboriginal Affairs and particularly the type of representative or advisory Aboriginal bodies intended to assist the. Commonwealth in carrying out its responsibilities to the Aboriginal .

people. The Aboriginal community can be proud of the work done by the Commit on their behalf. . · .

CANBERRA.

9 November 1976