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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2023

Senator BROWN (VICTORIA) -Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that the Victorian Director of Aboriginal Affairs has adopted an unusual method of reminding the Department's debtors that their accounts are overdue? The reminder is in the form of a pencil drawing of a woman with a matted mass of hair and the caption 'We hate to get in your hair but this account is overdue '. As the Aboriginal people who occasionally receive this form of notification are obviously offended by it, will the Minister take steps to remove this misplaced humour when the correspondence concerned may threaten the Aboriginal people with eviction from their homes?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I received a letter of protest from the Aboriginal Legal Service in Victoria accompanied by a sticker showing a pencil drawing of a girl with a mass of hair and the caption 'We hate to get in your hair but this account is overdue'. At first I could not believe that it came from a government department. I rang Mr Worthy of the Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs. He acknowledged that he is die author of the form of notification and assures me that it is not unusual in Victoria. This is a usual method of sending out reminder notices in relation to accounts in Victoria, and he thought that the Government should adopt this method. He expressed the opinion that Aboriginals, as human beings, should have their attention drawn in some humorous way to the fact that an account is overdue. When I notified him that I could not believe that this type of reminder notice came from a Government Department and that protests had been received about it, he took the attitude that he was prepared to withdraw that type of reminder notice and send out a threatening bureaucratic letter telling people to pay up or else. This is an unfortunate attitude to be taken by the Victorian Department. I can assure the honourable senator that this practice will be discontinued when the Australian Government takes over the administration of Aboriginal affairs in Victoria.

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