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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1313


Mr GARRICK (BATMAN, VICTORIA) - 4 .ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs: Is he aware of the reports that the 7-year-old Aboriginal girl who was taken from her foster parents in Darwin has been speared as a form of tribal punishment and is to become the child bride of a middleaged man?


Mr BRYANT - -Yes, I am quite aware of the situation. As I mentioned in answer to the earlier question, the girl is aged 7. She is now back with her natural parents. I understand that in the particular tribal situation the promising has taken place in the past and at some time in the future, say at the age of 10 or 12, the promise will or is likely to be consummated. It poses a very difficult social situation. If the authorities intervene between the child and the tribal customs in situations such as this we are likely to create a position where the girl is an outcast in both societies. It is unfortunate. We just do not know the answer in circumstances such as this. But one can hope that the education and other policies that are being developed, some of which of course flow from the past, will over come the problem in which girls in tribal situations find themselves. In this instance, I understand, the girl is happily placed back with her parents. But I will have the matter checked as thoroughly as possible and keep an eye on the situation.







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