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Aboriginal communities facing abuse crisis

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on Aug 16th, 2002.

Aboriginal communities facing abuse crisis: ATSIC
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) says a huge
effort is needed to address what it is calling the horrific abuse of its
children at alarming rates.

The Western Australian branch of the Commission has given its response to
the Gordon Inquiry into child abuse and family violence in Aboriginal

Commission representative Colleen Hayward says the problem of abuse has
reached critical mass, to the point where it is rocking the very
foundations of her people's future.

Delivering her response to the Gordon report, she said she knows of
children under ten with sexually transmitted diseases.

Ms Hayward says ATSIC will play a major role to get action on the report's
197 findings and recommendations.

One priority is for more Aboriginal workers in welfare areas because, she
says, non-Aboriginal workers have been reluctant to meet their
responsibilities due to cultural barriers.

"If the police or any other agency representatives thought that in the
places where you and I lived there were children in danger, they wouldn't
be stopping at the front gate," Ms Hayward said.

And she says more money is needed, describing current funding as a tiny
drop in the ocean.



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