Friday, 16 April 2004
Uniting Church condemns Government Decision to 'Kill Off' ATSIC
The Uniting Church today condemned the Federal Government’s decision to abolish ATSIC saying it will bring to an end reconciliation in Australia. “The Federal Government’s decision to kill off ATSIC and replace it with nothing more than an advisory committee demonstrates its total disregard for the well being of the Indigenous peoples of this nation” the Rev Shayne Blackman, National Administrator of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, said today. "This is a return to the paternalism of colonial days when Indigenous people had no say in their future and suffered terribly from the government’s desire to assimilate.” “We do not deny there is a need for the reform of ATSIC. Any federal body must both meet the needs of Indigenous people and provide Indigenous input into government policy. But its abolition without adequate representative replacement spells an end to any process of Reconciliation in this country. Indigenous communities will be further marginalised and disadvantaged with no possibility of a unified, national voice.” “Mainstreaming will also further dilute the ability of agencies to address the needs of Indigenous peoples. It is the strong opinion of the international community that nations with formal mechanisms that respect Indigenous self-determination and rights achieve far better health and socio-economic outcomes.”
"By drowning Indigenous people in the ‘mainstream’ health, community and education systems, the circumstances of the Indigenous peoples of this country can only get worse.” "Contrary to the views of Senator Vanstone, the delivery of culturally relevant outcomes that enable Indigenous peoples to maintain their identity and integrity is not the violent segregation of apartheid. That is a silly comparison that only serves to feed the racist paranoia of many in our country.”
"We would hope the people of Australia will protest loudly at this attack on Indigenous people and their right to self determination and human rights,” Mr Blackman said.
Media contact: Rev Shayne Blackman on 0418 784 463 or (O7) 4773 5077