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Opening of Bima Wear complex, Bathurst Island



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MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL· AFFAIRS Senator the Hon. F. M. Chaney

. OPENING. OF. BIMA WEAR COMPLEX,. BATHURST. ISLAND

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Fred Chaney, today opened the new Bima Wear complex, a small industry clothing factory, on Bathurst Island. Senator Chaney said that the .achievements of the Aboriginal people of the Island was a . demonstration of what could be achieved by Aboriginal communitieis. The $305,000 Bima Wear project, financed by the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund, is the latest step in a project which

commenced in 1969 with a bank balance' of $10.

Bima Wear now provides most of the school uniforms for the majority of schools in and around Darwin, for the school children on Bathurst Island and for a number of schools in Alice Springs. It employs 18 Aboriginal women. - ·

Senator Chaney said that over a range of activities the Aboriginal people on Bathurst Island had achieved a great deal. Most importantly, they had built a stable and self sufficient community. Traditional 'artistic talents had been used to

develop high fasion and decorative work which is done by ' Tiwi Designs, an Aboriginal owned and run enterprise. The housing association built 64 houses in the past five years and will complete a further six this year. The community development organisation, the Ngui Ullintji Association, runs a profitable retail facility with a turnover in excess of $lm in ·

the last financial year. These profits were being used to support other activities on the Island, such as the purchase of a trawler to support the development of a fishing enterprise. . There is a self-supporting bakery and the people are involved in

the operation of the hospital. Other operations include pottery and the operation of a market garden.

Assistance in getting projects going had come from government and other sources. In particular, the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund had made a substantial contribution to a number · . of major projects on the Island. These funds come from royalties on mining and forestry on Aboriginal land. .

Senator Chaney said that criticism of Aboriginal enter­ prises was frequent and received much publicity, and many successes of communities such as Bathurst were less well-known. Bathurst was a great advertisement for Aboriginal self-help and for the

fact that a partnership of church, government and people could . achieve a great deal. The Catholic mission had involved itself in many of the activities and Senator Chaney paid tribute to its . work. Senator Chaney paid tribute to the work of Sister Eucharia who had started the project in 1969 and had remained a constant

source of inspiration and advice,

CANBERRA, ACT 16 March, 1979 79/19