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Settlement of Aboriginals at Wave Hill, Northern Territory

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Statement by the Minister f •r the Interior, Mr. Peter Nixon,, and the Minister-in-charge of Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. W.C. Wentworth

The Government has considered the situation which has arisen

in regard to Aboriginals at Wave Hill and surrounding stations.

It has decided to establish a residential centre and eventually

township site on Crown land at Wave Hill about four miles from the Watt"ie Creek site and central, e.g. to Wave Hill, Inverway, V.R.L., Camfield, Waterloo, fof the benefit of the Gurindji people and other Aboriginals who are not working and living on pastoral


There is already on this site a school, an infant welfare and medical centre, a welfare officer and a police station.

It is immediately adjacent to the existing airstrip and main road and has a water supply, which will be increased as the need


This assistance will be offered to, among others, the 23

members of the Gurindiji who are living at present at Wattle Creek. There are already 66 Gurindji living at the Wave Hill

centre on the site which it is proposed to develop as the township.

The remaining Gurindji people, about 140, are living and working

on pastoral properties.

It will be possible for Aboriginals and other Australians to acquire their own home sites in this township area, and

finance will be provided for aboriginals who wish to establish

homes there.

If the aboriginals wish to establish orchards and vegetable

gardens, the Administration will give the necessary assistance and advice to them, either individually or as a group, including

provision for small scale irrigation.

If the aboriginals wish to engage in other economic activity

which has prospects of success they will be helped t) d so.

For example, if any group of aboriginals in the area wishes to undertake a business activity available t) them for which horses are needed -- such as contract mustering, droving or fencing -arrangements will be made to secure and fence f-jr them an adjoining

area on which they can run the horses necessary for their work.

The Government believes that this course of action is

preferable to developing the site at Wattle Creek as originally


However, the Minister for tie Interior is seeking a specific

assurance from the Wave Hill Pastoral Company that its aboriginals camped at present at Watti.e Creek will not be di.aturbed in their

occupancy should they wish to remain there. 116.6 /2

It is hoped, however, that they will take advantage of the

site to be developed some fur miles from Wattie Creek which would greatly facilitate their use of the school, medical

facilities, and other facilities which are already available there.

A great deal is being done in the Northern ' T er iit - ry to

ensure that maximum opportunities are available to ab•^riginals in the wider Australian community and to equip them to take

advantage of those opportunities.

Programmes of education, vocational training and housing will continue to be expanded and assistance under these programmes

willb e available to the Gurindji people as well as to the other Northern Territory aboriginals.

There are more than 60,000,000 acres of aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory. Some of this land is first class, and the reserves, when properly developed, are sufficient to provide

a rich living for at least as many people as there are aboriginals

in the Northern Territory.

It is the active policy of the Government to develop these

reserves for the benefit of the aboriginal people so that those

who live on them will become self-supporting as soon as

practicable. It is, of course, recognised that this process ie not simple or direct and takes time. Nevertheless, whatever its difficulties, it will continue to be pursued.

Under existing law, aboriginal ceremonial, burial or

initiation grounds in the Northern Territory are given protection, This law will be enforced and aboriginal groups encouraged to point out such sites so that maximum protection can be afforded.

This applies both to sites of the Gurindji people and to those of

other aboriginal tribes.

The aboriginals of the Northern Territ )ry have always had

statutory rights of entry on pastoral leases there, and are entitled to hunt wild birds and animals there for food, and to use natural waters and springs.

In common with other aboriginals, the Gurindji people will

continue to enjoy these rights.

r 0 R TtDt'On/,

Jul 10 1968.-