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Leaders' calls fell on deaf ears

by Dr Ruth A Fink Latukefu, Newport Beach
Letter to the Editor, Manly Daily, 3 July 2007

Four years ago, on 11 June 2003 Aboriginal leader, activist and Law Professor Mick Dodson addressed the National Press Club on “Violence Dysfunction Aboriginality”. His call for immediate action to combat violence and child abuse fell on deaf ears, and politicians chose to ignore these problems until June 2007.

Dodson rightly commented:

“This is not just our problem; this is everyone’s problem.

It is not only the Indigenous leadership that should be tackling these issues, it also requires strong political leadership from the Prime Minister and from State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers to properly prioritise policies addressing domestic and other violence in Indigenous communities.”

He concluded:

“The violence occurring in Aboriginal communities today is not part of Aboriginal tradition or culture. It is occurring principally because of the marginalisation of Aboriginal people, the economic and welfare dependence, continuing high levels of unemployment, the dissolution of our culture and tradition and the breakdown of societal and community values.”

In his column “Pearson is right” Michael Foster (Manly Daily 30 June) accuses Aboriginal leaders of not taking responsibility, suggesting that only Noel Pearson cares about the protection of Aboriginal children. For years, Aboriginal men and women have been calling on governments at every level to provide more police protection, drug rehabilitation, counselling and other basic services to build safer communities where children will not be abused. Their desperate calls have been ignored until now, when in an election year, it suits politicians to be seen to be doing something. The shameful neglect has been everyone’s fault, not just Aboriginal leaders!