Broome diocesan justice office slams non-Indigenous appointment

The appointment of a non-Indigenous person to a $200,000 a year advisory role with the Western Australian Government on Aboriginal issues is a "step back into the past", according to Br Shane Wood of Broome diocese's justice and peace office.

Br Wood was responding to the recent high-profile appointment of former Western Australian Governor Lt-Gen John Sanderson to a prominent position advising the State Government on Aboriginal affairs.

Lt-Gen Sanderson will reportedly earn $200,000 a year for the job - nearly as much as a Government minister and Opposition Leader Paul Omodei.

WA Premier Alan Carpenter had earlier announced that Lt-Gen Sanderson would work with Aboriginal communities, business and government to find better ways to get resources working for them.

"He will travel the state meeting Aboriginal people and building partnerships, which will take advantage of programs that have worked, and help foster new approaches and identify areas of need, so resources can be used more effectively," Mr Carpenter was quoted as saying.

But while Br Wood said he would not doubt the former Governor's goodwill and talent, he says "here we have the somewhat ironic situation of a non-Indigenous person being employed to identify strategies to 'strengthen the participation of Aboriginal people' in the State's development."

"It seems rather unbelievable to me that there would not be even one Indigenous person in the whole of Western Australia or even the whole of Australia who would be qualified to take on this position," he said.

"Why not even employ more than one Indigenous person to carry out this task which was reported to come with a salary of $200,000?" Br Wood asked.

"It seems to me that appointing yet another non-Aboriginal person to a very well paid position to 'help Aboriginal people' is to step back into the past."

According to Br Wood there is little reason to think that this appointment will make any difference when so many other projects and plans headed by non-Indigenous people, even those with goodwill, have failed.

"I would like to share the Premier's optimism that one more non-Indigenous person travelling the State, meeting Aboriginal people and building partnerships will be able to make a significant difference," Br Wood said.

"If Indigenous people are not involved in such an undertaking from the very start as equal partners, then I fear we will be looking at yet another very expensive failure." Br Wood concluded.

Br Shane Wood, Aboriginal expertise and ability seemingly overlooked... (Media Release, 18/9/06)
Ex-governor collects $200,000 for advice (WA Business News, 15/9/06)
Ex-governor to help WA Aborigines (The Australian, 3/9/06)

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Broome Diocese

19 Sep 2006