Australian Aboriginal News & Current Affairs
The most up-to-date and relevant news stories regarding Aboriginal culture

Do you want to be the owner of this superb concert class Didj? Just answer our Questionnaire

Win a Concert Class Didj!

Visit The Didjshop - the largest and most extensive virtual didjeridu shop
Have a read of the comments left by vistors to the didjshop

Now to the story...

Homelands sweet home

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on October 30 2002


There is a renewed push for Aboriginal people to move from
established communities to traditional homelands or outstations.

ATSIC placed a moratorium on the practice after skyrocketing costs
from a proliferation of small settlements in the Northern Territory,
Western and South Australia in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, a new homelands initiative on Cape York Peninsula is
gaining momentum.

Adapted from an AM story by Annie Guest

Every year thousands of people in Aboriginal communities suffer from the
impacts of alcoholism, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Robbie Salee lives at Injinoo Aboriginal community, on the remote northern
end of Cape York.

He has seen failed attempts to deal with the problems, which he believes
stem from an unnatural community environment.

"They shifted these people from their own traditional land to a place they
never agreed on," he said.

"Forced them into one community, they don't come from there. It's like if
you put a horse in a chook pen. How are they going to react in there?"

Mr Salee has no doubts about the benefits of homelands or outstation
living, including opportunities for productive work.

"If they go back to their own traditional land, they can live on bush
tucker - you know it comes into their health," he said.

"They want to be able to determine their own affairs out there."

Mr Salee is also the chairman of ATSIC's Peninsula Regional Council, which
recently included a homelands policy in its five-year plan.

Councils can apply for exemptions from ATSIC's moratorium on homelands
living if they can ensure basic services such as education, and acceptable
living standards.

Changing circumstances

ATSIC's North Queensland commissioner Jenny Pryor says changing
circumstances have put homelands back on the agenda.

"Regional councils in Queensland are actually looking seriously because of
probably native title giving opportunity for people to move back onto
their homelands," Ms Pryor said.

"Will the organisation be applying to the Federal Government for
additional funds to support these initatives?

"Not just the Federal government the State Government also should look
seriously at contributing as an alternative lifestyle and breaking down
the cycle of alcohol and family violence to give our people a chance."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Phillip Ruddock declined to be interviewed.

A spokesman says the Government does not yet have a position on the issue
and an appeal for funds would compete with many other government

Affordable living

But the Australian National University's Centre for Aboriginal Economic
Policy Research says homelands living is affordable.

Researcher David Martin has worked in the Cape's communities and
outstations for eight years.

"It's not a matter of pouring vast extra sums of money into building
suburban houses in remote locations," Mr Martin said.

"It's about providing the means for people to exercise initiative, move
into situations where they can feel more in control of their lives and
then building from that."

Mr Martin says homelands benefit Aboriginal people in terms of a
reducution in crime and an increase in productive and available work.

"My own experience in western Cape York demonstrated that people were
happier, healthier," Mr Martin said.

"There was far fewer evidence of social problems on outstations than there
were in the township."



Return to The Didjshop's Aboriginal News Web Log

Links to other websites about Aboriginal Australia

Visit The Didjshop

Check out the world's coolest shop for didgeridoos

Click HERE to receive occasional email Newsletters from The Didjshop


The Didgeridoo Specialist - founder of