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Thursday, 29 March 1984
Page: 915


Senator KILGARIFF(6.02) —I have taken the opportunity-the liberty perhaps-of bringing back for debate in the Senate the 1982-83 annual report of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd because we did not have time to debate this matter when it was last before the Senate. I wish to commend Miss Lois O' Donoghue and Aboriginal members of the board for their report. I note that the highlights of the year were a 20.7 per cent rise in funding from the Commonwealth Government, opening of the first alternative style village for Aboriginal fringe dwellers in Australia, the winning of a prestigious Australian Institute of Management award for its 1981-82 annual report and the celebration by Aboriginal Hostels of its tenth anniversary. Under the heading 'Company Operations' the report states:

Over the 1982-83 fiscal year, Aboriginal Hostels Limited operated or funded 122 hostels around Australia providing 2,996 beds to meet the temporary accommodation needs of Aborigines and Islanders. This total included 64 hostels providing 1,367 beds operated by Aborigines and community organisations under the Company's Third Party Hostel Grants Program.

The remaining 58 hostels, with a total of 1,629 beds were operated directly by the Comapny.

Under the heading 'Types of Hostels' the report states:

Hostels provide temporary accommodation for Aborigines in education, employment , vocational training and for health reasons.

I note also that there is to be a review of Aboriginal Hostels Ltd's company charter. This is to take place after 10 years of very successful operation. I believe that the board, after experiencing extreme difficulties at the beginning of its operations, has done a tremendous amount of work in accommodating Aboriginal people throughout Australia. I understand that the Government has agreed to a complete review of the company charter under which Aboriginal Hostels Ltd was formed in 1973 as it is now recognised that the original charter has served its purpose.

I have always followed the operations of Aboriginal Hostels Limited with considerable interest. I have had something to do with this organisation over the years. I, too, believe it is time that its charter was reviewed. The organisation is responsible for hostels. I feel that its role could be extended considerably. The Aboriginal Development Commission was given responsibility for Aboriginal housing a couple of years ago. I wonder whether the Government, having in mind the success that the board has made of Aboriginal Hostels, would consider making Aboriginal Hostels responsible for Aboriginal housing with the assistance of the States, and I acknowledge that the States have a responsibility for Aboriginal housing. I believe that such an arrangement would result in a more efficient operation in terms of housing Aboriginal people.

I also believe that Aboriginal Hostels could offer other specialised accommodation. I believe this organisation could house young people and apprentices to a greater degree than it does at present. I also believe that the time has come when Aboriginal Hostels could offer social facilities. I believe that social club activities could be introduced in places such as Alice Springs. I think this would be for the betterment of Aboriginal people. I believe that Aboriginal Hostels should cater for Aboriginal people broadly and not for particular groups of them. I notice that the Sid Ross Hostel in Alice Springs caters for the Pitjantjatjara people. I believe that the Pitjantjatjara people should be given land for the development of village-type accommodation and that the Sid Ross type of operation should be for the Aboriginal people generally. Considerable damage has been done to the Sid Ross Hostel. I do not believe that this is the fault of Aboriginal Hostels. I believe that Aboriginal Hostels has to review this type of operation. I recommend that the Pitjantjatjara people, like the members of other tribes who come into Alice Springs, should be housed in village type accommodation. The Sid Ross Hostel, which is of considerable value, should be used by Aboriginals as a whole.