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ATSIC Commissioner urges Kooris to get on electoral roll.

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Media Release

ATSIC Commissioner urges Kooris to get on electoral roll


13 February 2002


ATSIC Commissioner for Victoria, Marion Hansen, has urged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of voting age to put their names on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll.

ATSIC Regional Council elections will be held later this year across Australia and there may also be a state election in Victoria.

“These are important polls coming up, and if Koori people want to have a say on either of them, they must be on the electoral roll,” Ms Hansen said.

Ms Hansen said a good a voter turn-out at the ATSIC elections, due to be held in October, was crucial for both Kooris and ATSIC itself, as the peak Indigenous representative agency.

“The ATSIC elections will have an impact on the lives of Indigenous people, their children and their communities,” Ms Hansen said. “People shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to have a say and to change things if they’re not satisfied.

“There’s also talk in the wind about mainstreaming Indigenous programs. If we’re going to avoid this backward step and build on the work of ATSIC, we need people to show their support by voting.

“ATSIC is not perfect but it’s much better than the alternative. It gives Kooris a voice in the delivery of government programs and the formulation of policies that affect them, improving the chances that services will be culturally appropriate,” Ms Hansen said.

She said ATSIC has developed an effective partnership with the State Government and local governments in Victoria to secure and protect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“ATSIC, through its elected arm, is working with these governments to address disadvantages so that Kooris can enjoy the same level of services as other citizens.

“ATSIC itself has also funded important programs, especially in housing and employment.

“ATSIC has promoted the distinct rights of Kooris arising out of their status as First Peoples, including land rights and native title. It has advocated on issues such as deaths in custody and law and justice, as

well as consulted Indigenous people on treaty.

“A poor turn-out at the elections would jeopardise both the progress made in the past few years and the aspirations of Indigenous communities,” Ms Hansen said.

For more information: Giuseppe Stramandinoli (ATSIC Victoria Public Affairs) on 9285 7225 or 0419 508 125

Commissioner Hansen on 0417 549 842 _______________________________

Background information

There are two ATSIC Regional Councils in Victoria. Tumbukka Regional Council represents the state’s west - including the western half of Melbourne - and Binjirru Regional Council, which covers the eastern half of the state, including Melbourne’s east.

Each council has 12 Regional Councillors, with a full-time elected Chairperson.

To ensure a fairer representation of groups within a region, Regional Councils have a ward system for elections. The number of Regional Councillors per ward is based on the ward’s Indigenous population.

Tumbukka Regional Council has two wards: Tumbukka Ward (in which seven Councillors are elected) and West Melbourne Ward (five Councillors).

Major centres in the Tumbukka Ward include: Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill, Kerang, Echuca, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool, Framlingham, Portland, Heywood, Hamilton and Horsham.

Major suburbs in the West Melbourne Ward include: Thornbury, Preston, Thomastown, Broadmeadows, Fitzroy, Collingwood, Werribee and Sunbury.

The Binjirru Regional Council is divided into three wards: East Melbourne Ward (six Councillors); Gippsland Ward (three Councillors); and Goulburn Valley Ward (three Councillors).

Major centres/suburbs in the East Melbourne Ward include: Healesville, Ringwood, Dandenong, Berwick, St Kilda, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.

Major centres in the Gippsland Ward include: Drouin, Warragul, Moe, Morwell, Traralgon, Sale, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Lake Tyers and Orbost.

Major centres in the Goulburn Valley Ward include: Shepparton, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Benalla.