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ATSIC urges Murris to get on electoral roll.



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ATSIC urges Murris to get on electoral roll

 

27 March 2002

 

Chairperson of the ATSIC Cairns & District Regional Council, Terry O’Shane, today urged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of voting age to put their names on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll in the lead up to the tri-annual ATSIC elections due later this year.

“In past elections the voter turn-out in urban areas has been much lower than that in rural and remote areas so this year our challenge as a community is to lift our game and get out and vote,” said Chair O’Shane.

“These are important polls coming up, and if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want to have a say, they must be on the electoral roll.

A good a voter turn-out at the ATSIC elections, expected to be held in October, was crucial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and ATSIC itself, as the peak Indigenous representative agency, he said.

Chair O’Shane said fears that the Federal government may move to mainstream Indigenous programs, was a major reason for a strong Indigenous vote.

“If we’re going to avoid this step backwards to assimilation, we need our people to show their support by voting.

“The ATSIC elections do have an impact on the lives of Indigenous people, our children and our communities.

“People shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to have a say and to change things if they’re not satisfied.

“ATSIC has its problems like any organisation but a strong vote in the coming elections can only strengthen our effectiveness. It gives our people a voice in the delivery of government programs and on the policies that affect us,” he said.

ATSIC has worked hard to develop an effective partnership with State and local governments in Queensland to protect the rights and improve the lives and practical circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Chair O’Shane said.

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Locally the Regional Council was working hard to ensure regionalisation provides a more efficient use of limited resources and overcomes the problems of nepotism and “family before community” attitudes, he said.

“Despite what many people believe there are very little resources available to ATSIC so we are committed to the most efficient use of those limited resources and that’s why regionalisation is so important.”

He cited the Bilateral Housing Agreement with the Queensland government and the associated Joint Planning Group signed late last year, as major ATSIC achievements that offered “enduring” benefits to Indigenous people in Queensland.

ATSIC in Queensland was also the first agency to respond to and fully endorse the Bonnie Robertson Report on family violence, and was now working constructively with the State and Federal governments on responses to the recent Fitzgerald report on Cape York, he said.

ATSIC also funds important programs, especially in housing and employment, spending two thirds of its annual budget on these two key areas alone. He said this was one of the main roles of ATSIC and its elected representatives.

“To work with governments to address the multiple disadvantage Indigenous people face, so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can enjoy the same level of services that other citizens usually take for granted,” he said.

He said ATSIC funds six Native Title Representative Bodies on the Queensland mainland, as well as the Queensland Indigenous Working Group which work towards securing rights to land and other economic benefits for Indigenous claimants.

“A poor turn-out at the elections would jeopardise this progress as well as the future aspirations of Indigenous communities,” said O’Shane.

O’Shane particularly urged women and young people to enrol and nominate for the upcoming elections.

For more information: Alastair Harris ATSIC Public Affairs 0409 658 177 Terry O’Shane 0417 764 992

 

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