Wednesday, April 20, 2005

'Message Stick' Newsletter April 2005

Welcome to the email summary of my April 2005 newsletter.

A summary of its stories follows.

1. Whitewash on Indigenous Affairs

Recent moves by the Government and the ALP to abolish the national Indigenous organisation, ATSIC, will see the Federal Stage bereft of Indigenous Representation from 30 June this year - also the day my term as Senator for NSW finishes.

Read Aden's speeches from the ATSIC Bill debate:

A timeline of events from the 2004 Social Justice Report:

2. Summary of my Senate work this year

In March we finished the autumn sittings of parliament which were only 11 days in total but in which 54 Bills passed the Senate. The Democrats dealt with a wide range of legislation, questions and motions covering tax, media and communications, education, overseas aid, security, defence, health, refugees, industrial relations and the Iraq war. The legislation I have dealt with so far this year included Medical Indemnity and the bill to abolish ATSIC See full story on p3 for details of my other Senate work.

3. In Brief

See the following links to media statements and speeches on:

Redfern-Waterloo developments;

Baryulgil asbestos miners;

Midwives and professional indemnity insurance;

Reform proposals for Australian orchestras;

4. Upcoming events

Aden Ridgeway will speak at the following events:

The Alfred Deakin Innovation Lecture Series, Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston St Melbourne, 6.30pm Friday 6 May. Free. To book: .

Democrats National Conference, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Clunies Ross St, Black Mountain, Canberra, Saturday 14 May 2005. More info:

Sorry Day: A National Day of Healing for all Australians, Great Hall Parliament House, Canberra. Speakers also include Dr Fiona Stanley and Mike de Gagne, Executive Director of Canadian Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 10 am Wednesday 25 May. More info 02 6281 0940.

Sorry Day Events, Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay, Sydney, From 2pm, Thursday 26 May. More info: 02 9245 2400.

Children's Voices for Reconciliation, Hornsby Shopping Mall, 11am Friday 27 May. More info: 02 9484 1043

Parliament next sits on 10 May for the Budget sitting and then resumes on 14 June for two weeks.

Senator Aden Ridgeway, Australian Democrats Senator for NSW. Spokesperson for Arts & Sport; Consumer Affairs; Indigenous Affairs; Forestry; Industry, Small Business and Tourism; Trade & Overseas Development

This newsletter can also be accessed online by clicking on the link.

By Sen Aden Ridgeway posted 20 April 05


Vanstone brushes off Games threat
About 50 campaigners gathered outside the High Court in Melbourne, accusing the Commonwealth of racial discrimination.

Minister Vanstone should apologise: FAIRA, 'lazy and inept', remark The Minister has a responsibility, as a Minister of the Crown, to show respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including the elected representatives.

Vanitystone rejects nationally-elected Aboriginal group?
Fascist Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone has rejected the findings of a Senate report that wants a new nationally-elected Indigenous body set up to replace the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Report seeks nationally elected body to replace ATSIC
A report expected to be tabled in Federal Parliament today is set to call for the establishment of a nationally elected Indigenous body in Australia.

Govt accused of isolating Indigenous public servants
A national reconciliation group says the federal Government's main-streaming of Indigenous services into government departments will continue to isolate Aboriginal public servants.

NSW pledges to repay Indigenous wages
The New South Wales Government says it will set up a fund to repay wages and other money paid into trusts for Aboriginal people that was not passed on to them.

Vanstone defends asking Aborigines to wash for fuel
The Federal Government has defended its offer to provide a remote Indigenous community with petrol bowsers and new health programs, if it meets conditions including ensuring children shower every day.

Clark crashes Indigenous affairs ministers' meeting
Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark says he gatecrashed a meeting of federal and state Aboriginal affairs ministers today to highlight the plight of Aboriginal people.

Long says journey far from over
Michael Long has emerged from a meeting with the Prime Minister in Canberra saying it is still the beginning of his journey.

Indigenous welfare plan breach race act!!!!
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has issued a warning about the Federal Government's plan to link Aboriginal welfare to behavioural change.

HoWARd's 'attitude' to Aboriginal welfare racist
The Federal Government says it is still considering a radical plan to rebuild the Aboriginal welfare system, which could make financial assistance dependent on behavioural change?

UN rates Indigenous health poorly
The Australian Nursing Federation says the United Nations has rated Indigenous Australians as having the second worst quality of life in the world after China.

Poverty cycle must be addressed: Ridgeway
The Democrats' Aden Ridgeway says Prime Minister John Howard should stop beating up on people who are on welfare, and focus on solving the national Indigenous unemployment rate.

1. ATSIC abolition: the story so far. The last few months have seen both major parties buying into Indigenous Affairs in destructive and politically opportunistic ways. First the ALP and then the Government announced they would abolish ATSIC, but now the decision has been referred to a Senate Committee so the full implications of the Government's proposal can be examined. For more information on the Senate Inquiry into Indigenous Administration call 02 6277 3419 or go to:

AMA calls for extra health funding for Aborigines
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is asking for an extra $450 million a year to be spent on the health needs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.

Labor to request Senate inquiry into ATSIC's future
The Federal Opposition has announced it will call for a Senate inquiry into the Government's plan to abolish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Reconciliation dreaming
Djerrkura had witnessed the collapse of ATSIC, which he led from 1996 to 1999, with sadness. Despite the peak indigenous organisation's flaws, which he did not deny, its abolition, he said, had been done in "the classic imperial fashion, without negotiation, without understanding and with little empathy".

Amnesty sees lack of progress on reconciliation
Amnesty International says the Federal Government must be held accountable for its commitments to Indigenous services.

The bone has been pointed at Howard
A Queensland Indigenous leader says an ancient Aboriginal curse placed on Prime Minister John Howard is no laughing matter and could even have deadly consequences.

Indigenous Social Justice Association Djadi Dugarang

Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research: Aboriginal Crime
In 2001 more than forty percent of the Aboriginal male population aged 20-24 in NSW appeared before a NSW court charged with a criminal offence. One in ten Aboriginal males in NSW aged 20-24 received a prison sentence.

Inquiry told reforms will decimate Indigenous education
A Senate inquiry has been told the Federal Government's proposed higher education reforms will decimate education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation says Indigenous students will be the hardest hit by increases in student fees, interest on postgraduate loans and attacks on student representation.