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Howard urged to do more for reconciliation

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 8 April 2005

A former chairwoman of ATSIC says the Federal Government has allowed the issue of Aboriginal reconciliation to stall.

Lowitja O'Donoghue says it is heartbreaking that 10 years of time and effort have amounted to nothing.

Dr O'Donoghue says Prime Minister John Howard's lack of leadership on the issue is largely to blame, and Mr Howard should be doing more to get it back on track.

"Of course he needs to do more - the buck stops with him," she said.

"He's the leader of the country's not good enough for him just to go to one trip as he has in this last week.

"Then what happens after that?"

Social justice report

Dr O'Donoghue has also backed the stance taken by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in its 2004 social justice report.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, has used the report to warn the Federal Government that its new structure to administer indigenous affairs will be closely monitored.

Dr O'Donoghue says she agrees that there needs to be detailed examination of policy and programs following ATSIC's abolition.

She also says Aboriginal people should be consulted about any administrative structure that replaces it.

"Aboriginal people got to determine what the policies are and so on," she said.

"There's no point Government's going in there and saying 'this is what's good for you'."

"Unless Aboriginal people own those programs nothing's going happen."

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