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Sit-in by Aboriginals at Cairns area office

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Senator the Hon. E M. Chaney



The Minister--for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Fred Chaney, today (Tuesday) sent a message to the Aboriginal women staging a sit- in in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs Cairns area office in protest at what they claim is lack of sufficient housing for Aboriginals in the region. .

[Senator Chaney's message was read to the women by the Cairns Area Officer, Mr Ron Stovell. It read: ·

“I understand that you are in the DAA office as a demonstration [of your objection to the Housing policies of the State Department of A. & I. A. .

I The Commonwealth is aware there is a housing shortage for I Aboriginal people in Queensland as in other States.

Decause of this a special effort has been made by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States to improve the position.

"My Government has provided a total of $7,100,000 to the Queensland Government during the past year for provision of housing to . Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. This figure was set to meet a State program to provide 224 homes during the year as part of a continuing program. .

"In addition, the Commonwealth Government provided grants totalling $3,700,000 directly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing associations in Queensland for the acquisition or construction of a further 120 homes. .

"It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to provide an allocation for each National Aboriginal Conference area in Australia and Aboriginal housing organisations in these areas decide how and where the housing funds would be best spent.

"These priorities are established at special meetings. I have no intention of interfering with the priorities set by your organisations in this area by redirecting funds elsewhere.

"The Commonwealth Government also has no intention of taking any. direct action in the dispute which the protesters have with the Queensland Government. <

"I have been advised that some of those taking part in the sit-in have been evicted from their homes through non-payment of rent, or through damage to property and unacceptable behaviour.

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"If tenants do not pay their rents and find, themselves evicted as a result, it is not the fault of either government. Aboriginal housincj "associations equally have a responsibility to collect rents to service maintenance requirements and new building costs.

"The Commonwealth Government will not condone non-payment of rents, anti-social behaviour or undue damage to welfare housing.

"The establishment of orderly rental arrangements is an important factor in developing self-management policies among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people." .

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Distributed to press in .

BRISBANE, CAIRNS, Queensland . .

5 August, 1980 22/80