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Media Release
17 December 2003

Plans for Aborigines Welfare Fund 'lip service'

A sudden announcement by the State Government about plans for the Aborigines Welfare Fund last week was outrageous, says Queensland's Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation President Jenny Tannoch-Bland.

"If it's really only going to take the interest from $8.9 million to fix up education and skill development opportunities in the Aboriginal community, why don't they just do that themselves and give these people their money " she said.

"This is nothing more than window-dressing and lip service to reconciliation and the very serious issues of education, skills development and opportunity.

"Window-dressing because the government will make the decision about who in the Aboriginal community will manage the fund and lip service because these hard-earned wages should have been at the complete disposal of the people who earned them in the first place which is something this government in particular seems incapable of acknowledging through action instead of just words."

The AWF is described by historian Dr Ros Kidd as a fund initially set up for the benefit of Aborigines from their wages, child endowments, deceased estates and profits from community labour.

She said the AWF operated as a Treasury Trust fund between 1943 and 1993 and was "characterised" by mismanagement including improper expenditure and negligent account keeping.

Ms Tannoch-Bland said the government had "had their chance" not only to manage this particular fund but to do something to "benefit" Aboriginal people.

"For a start they shouldn't be touching this until both the assets and income generated by this fund have been independently audited, and then they should genuinely let the community decide what they want to do," she said.

"After that the government has got report after report, many written by Aboriginal people themselves, which show why there are cracks in the education system, for example, and where and how they can be fixed.

"So many solutions have been called for by Aboriginal people over the years, yet the government still won't do things the way Aboriginal people ask them to be done and then they wonder why the way things are done have become part of the problem."


Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (Queensland)
Office 10, 25-27 Cordelia Street, South Brisbane Qld 4101
Phone (07) 3844 9800 Fax (07) 3844 9562

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Updated 20 January, 2005