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Call for greater dialogue on Native Title'

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VICTORIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES Causeway House (4th Floor), 306 Little Collins Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000 Telephone (0 3 )9 6 5 0 4 6 1 1 Facsimile (03) 9650 8383 E-meil voo@.doooaster, General Secretary: The Rev Hamlah Christle-Johnston

M edia Release: W ednesday, 25 March 1998

"Call for Greater Dialogue on Native Title" Mjor- /<=Vxdv

The Social Question's Commission of the Victorian Council of Churches (SQVCC) today lamented the limited opportunity for constructive and well Informed dialogue over N ative Title.

The SQVCC in a statem ent Issued on 25 March 1998 stated, "Central to all good policy­ m aking is the need for justice and active participation by citizens and key stake­ holders." * '

"Church groups and leaders, community organisations, rural communities and indigenous communities have expressed grave concerns over the shortcomings of the Coalition's proposed Native Title Bill. The SQVCC views the proposed Bill as

discriminatory, unlikely to lead to certainty and as reducing the rights of indigenous people as recognised in Mabo's case.

"To date the Government has refused to listen to these concerns in a genuine way, dismissing them as uninformed or irrelevant. The government has remained fixed and uncompromising. This is hardly appropriate behaviour and belittles the fundamental principles of democracy." .

"Central to the Churches' mission is. the call for justice and love of neighbour. Governments exist to advance, protect and promote the common good of all citizens even those in society who are marginalised. The SQVCC believes m at the whole of Australia will be diminished if the Coalition's Native Title B E is allowed to proceed in its current form."

"An election on this issue is not necessary when a Summit could provide a positive framework for resolving the key sticking points and coming to a solution which is founded on fact, not fiction. A forum enabling greater understanding and communication of the different concerns, positions and perspective's of different people is w hat is needed."

"At the moment, key players have been placed in a position of confrontation and antagonism. This cannot oe productive as it forgets our shared humaneness and the stake we all have in sharing this great land in a manner befitting a m ature and diverse nation." "

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Rev. Paul Creasey, Chair SQVCC ph 9819 0711, mobile 041 7563357, Elizabeth Hastings ph 9251 5207 or 9251 5286, Liz Curran ph 9926 5709, m obile 041 8170 541

Anglican, Antiochian Orthodox; Armenian Apoitotio; Bulgarian Orthodox; Churches o f Christ; Coptfo Orthodox, Greek Orthodox; Holy ApOstolio Catholic Assyrian Church o f the East, Malankara Orthodox Syrian; Religious Society of Friends; Roman Catholic DiOCttM of Melbourne and Ballarat M fldte Catholic and Ukrainian Cathole Bbarehlaa: Romanian Orthodox; Salvation Amv. Sviian Orthodox; Uniting Church.