Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Opening of Bima Wear complex, Bathurst Island

Download PDFDownload PDF



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