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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2152

Mr Hunt asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   How many Aborigines are living on settlements conducted by Church Missions in the Northern Territory.

(2)   What is the per capita financial assistance by the Government to these Missions.

(3)   What are the details of Government aid to these Missions.

(4)   How does the overall cost to the Government compare on a per capita basis with the Government run settlements.

Mr Bryant - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   At 31st December 1972 there were approximately 7,550 Aborigines living in communities conducted by Church Missions in the Northern Territory.

(2)   Approximately $442 in 1971-72.

(3)   Government aid to mission communities in the current financial year provides for:

(a)   operational subsidies in relation to

(i)   specialised staff engaged on approved programs for Aboriginal advancement;

(ii)   premiums for workers compensation insurance;

(iii)   training allowances for Aboriginals;

(iv)   special assistance to individual Aboriginals whose regular income is insufficient to enable them to provide adequately for themselves and their families;

(v)   approved educational programs;

(b)   capital grants in respect of approved capital works programs, including the construction of school and medical facilities where these are not provided direct by the Government.

(4)   The cost per capita of programs at Governmentmanaged communities is approximately $613 compared with $442 for mission communities. This figure excludes salaries of public servants and other administrative expenses which cannot be isolated within the global votes for these items.

Aborigines' Petition to the United Nations (Question No. 221)

Mr Hunt asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to a petition banded to the United Nations on 15th October 1970 from certain Aborigines in Australia which stated that it is incumbent on the white invaders and practitioners of genocide to respond affirmatively to our demand that they pay us the sum of $6 billion so that we can achieve economic parity with those who have sought and still seek to wipe us out.

(2)   It so, does the Government support the text of the petition.

Mr Bryant - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The petition to the United Nations, in addition to allegations of genocide, contained a number of criticisms of the Government policies and programs referring to the high infant mortality rate among Aboriginals particularly in Central Australia; housing conditions for Aboriginals throughout Australia; the policies affecting Aboriginal education at that time; and the need for anti-discrimination legislation in Australia.

The Government has pledged itself to substantially reduce the infant mortality rate among Aboriginals as a matter of highest priority; it is reviewing housing assistance schemes implemented by the previous Government, with a view to increasing the effectiveness of Aboriginal housing programs; the Government has already decided to use Aboriginal languages as a medium of education in schools, wherever this is practicable, and a program of public information, with special emphasis on the provision of suitable materials for schools, is being developed. The Government also accepts the need for anti-discrimination legislation and will introduce such legislation as soon as possible.

The petition also requested payment of $6 billion to enable Aboriginals to achieve economic parity with other Australian citizens, and associated this claim with a claim for land rights. The Government has acknowledged Aboriginal rights to land on reserves in the Northern Territory and has appointed the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission to inquire into means of implementing its policy.

I will be looking in particular to the National Aborigines Consultative Council, when it becomes fully operative, to advise me on further action which might be taken in relation to the matters referred to in the petition.

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