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Return Aborigines to traditional lifestyle: Egan

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 15 March 2005

The Northern Territory's Administrator has proposed a radical new approach to Aboriginal housing saying the building of houses has done Indigenous people no favours.

Ted Egan says he has been to too many funerals for Aboriginal friends and it is time for radical solutions.

He wants malnourished Indigenous people given a proper meal each day.

He also wants Indigenous people to be paid to get rid of camp dogs that carry disease.

Mr Egan says Aboriginal housing should only offer the most basic shelter.

"Sensible places with wind breaks and shade areas, yes toilets and showers, but a maximum of shade cloth and sort of open living," he said.

"They've been living in the open air for countless generations.

"We do them no favours by building three bedroom houses because the only occupants of those usually are mangy dogs pissing and shitting in the corners and spreading the disease."

Mr Egan says Aboriginal people should be encouraged to preserve their culture.

"They are the custodians of the oldest culture in the world," he said.

"This sounds very paternalistic I know but I think they have an obligation to themselves and to the rest of Australia to keep that culture alive."

Dog plans

The deputy council clerk at the Top End community of Wadeye supports Mr Egan's suggestions.

Dale Seniger says the residents of Wadeye are developing new by-laws to reduce the number of camp dogs.

"Not totally wipe all the dogs out - I think there's a fair bit of angst as Ted says that a lot of these people are very close to their dogs as we all are - so they want to limit the number of dogs per house to two," he said.

"Also monitor the health of the dogs and actually have a pound set aside where we could take these dogs, basically like you've got a pound in Darwin or anywhere else."

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