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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1801

Mr WALLIS (Grey) - In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs it is to be noted that there has been a large increase in the allocation for this Department this year. I am not critical of what has been done in the past.. I realise fully that since the Commonwealth Government assumed the power with respect to Aboriginal affairs the amount made available for this purpose has risen annually, but the. Commonwealth has never been in a position to say that it has been catching up on requirements. With the 92 per cent increase in money available this financial year we hope that we will be able to catch up on past deficiencies and do something of which we as a nation can be proud. I think all honourable members will agree that much catching up is needed and we hope that this year'6 allocation will enable us to correct some of the deficiencies.

I should like to refer to a number of matters within my electorate which I hope the additional allocation will enable to be rectified by the responsible authorities and that, as a result, there will be some improvement in the conditions of Aboriginal people in South Australia. Apart from the urban dwellers most Aborigines in South Australia are located in the electorates of Wakefield, Grey and to a lesser extent Angas. Most of the western and northern Aborigines reside in my electorate and I should like to see something done for them. At Port Augusta, which is one of the larger provincial cities in my electorate, there is a considerable Aboriginal population of possibly 600 to 700. It is a fluctuating population. Port Augusta has been accepted by the Aborigines as the centre of this area. On the outskirts of the town is the Davenport Reserve which has been established during the last 7 or 8 years. Prior to that time it was a humpy town - a real fringe-dweller type of settlement. Despite what has been done by the South Australian State Government - it has provided a first class old folks home to care for Aboriginal people who are getting on in years - the reserve still leaves a lot to be desired. It certainly can be classed as possibly a semifringedweller type of settlement. However it provides a stepping stone for those Aboriginal people who want to move into the general community. It affords them the chance to become used to European type housing. What usually happens is that after a period in this reserve the Aborigines can be moved into houses provided by the South Australian Housing Trust.

Recently some rather nasty incidents have occurred, including one in which violence was used. White residents got together and signed a petition asking that a particular family be removed from an area in the town. This resulted in a nasty accident in which some violence occurred. One of the problems concerned the question of housing. In this particular area 22 Aboriginal people were living in one house. They comprised a number of families and their children. Whilst I do not condone violence in any form I am sure it would be agreed that if white citizens were living in the same circumstances unhygienic conditions would result in that toilet systems would not operate, there would be overcrowding and an unhealthy situation. This indicates the great need for additional housing.

In Port Augusta a group of Aborigines calling themselves the Aboriginal Social Club has done a fantastic job, thanks to money allocated by the Commonwealth Government and with the assistance of the local council in purchasing an old house and transforming it into a social club wherein the group has provided facilities for Aboriginal old folk, including a television room. The group has been able to provide a facility through which it can supply school children with a hot meal during the day. Playrooms and other facilities have been provided. Unfortunately the incident to which I referred a moment ago resulted in some adverse publicity in the local Press, the Adelaide Press and on television. Whilst I do not condone violence I believe that the media should take a more responsible attitude. The only time Port Augusta receives publicity on the Aboriginal question appears to be when something goes wrong. When Aborigines make a go of life, are able to hold down steady jobs, move into the town itself, become part of it and merge into community life no publicity results. It is only when something adverse crops up that the Press and the television blow it up in many cases out of all proportion. In so doing they incite racial hatred. I know from questions that I have been asked in the last few weeks since this incident occurred just how people's minds can be inflamed when something like this occurs.

Last year the Commonwealth Government purchased the property known as Everard Park. This was a cattle station carrying 2,500 head of cattle. It has now reverted to its Aboriginal name of Mimili. Efforts are now being made to make this an area from which Aboriginals can gain some sort of living and on which they can occupy themselves. The land around this area is sacred to the Aborigines. It is located in the Everard Ranges. I have had the opportunity with the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), of travelling through this area on a number of occasions. One can appreciate the significance of these Ranges to the Aborigines in the area. I hope that part of this year's allocation can be devoted to this particular project which deserves the support of the Commonwealth Government. Stock numbers can be built up and a better type of housing can be provided. There are possibly 200 to 250 Aboriginal people in the area and by the provision of extra finance something can be done to improve their lot.

Adjacent to Mimili is the State Government reserve of Indulkana. This is not an area about which we can boast. In 1968 this property was purchased as an Aboriginal reserve. A hard bargain was driven by the owners of Granite Downs station on which this area is located. The State Government was able to purchase 12 square miles of land but unfortunately it is not a good area for wood or water supplies. Apparently one of the conditions of purchase was that a dog proof fence had to be built around the 12 square-mile area. The people on the reserve regard this fence as they would a prison wall. These people are steeped in tribal tradition. Although they can jump the fence and walk on the other side of the property the fence has become symbolic to them. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will consider purchasing further land in this area to give these people more land on which to move around. The people could tell honourable members, as they have told the former Minister and myself on a number of occasions, that all their sacred sites are located outside the dog proof fence. This fence is a disgrace and I hope that when the Government sees its way clear to get control of more of the adjacent land that fence will be pulled down.

Indulkana is an area in which advanced use has been made of the native language for teaching purposes. This situation applies also at Ernabella, Amata and other places in the area. The local language has been used in the teaching of children. It is very fortunate that some Aborigines who are full time teachers on the staff of the Education Department of South Australia are from that area and, as such, are able to teach the children in their own language. English has become a second language. What has been achieved there is a credit to all of the teachers who have gone into these areas and made their contribution. There is no doubt that they are very dedicated people.

In the short period I have left in which to speak I wish to express my appreciation to the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who is sitting at the table. I have sat with him on committees on Aboriginal affairs over a number of years and know his concern. I think everyone who has worked with him would appreciate the work he has put into this field.

I regret that he is no longer the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, although I am sure that the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) will give of his best.

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