Avoid "bullyboy" approach: Darwin bishop

Questioning whether Government authorities understand the background of Aboriginal communities, Darwin's Bishop Ted Collins has warned against adopting a "bullyboy" approach and called for consultation with Indigenous people.

Bishop Collins comments come in response to the Government's wide sweeping reforms to battle Indigenous child abuse, including conditional welfare payments, a ban on alcohol and the end of the permit system, the ABC reports.

Bishop Collins says local Indigenous people need to be consulted before Government authorities move in.

"They need to work in partnership with Indigenous people in their local communities," he said.

"It can easily happen with Aboriginal people. Many of whom already feel powerless end up feeling further disempowered."

Bishop Collins says the government should respect Aboriginal culture.

"Do they know the background of the Aboriginal people sufficiently, are they going to rush in and try to be sort of bullyboys or something like that, or are they going to treasure the culture of Aboriginal people?" he asked.

"I think that is really important."

ERC slams return to "mission" mentality

Also concerned at the Government's announcement last week is the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney, which says it is appalled at John Howard's return to "mission" mentality.

There is no question that leadership and urgent action are needed to combat the sexual abuse of children, says the Centre in a statement.

However, the creation of a new "Super Mission" in Northern Australia is not the solution, it says.

Zeena Elton, Acting Director of the Centre said that "the Federal Government's plans don't address the root causes of child abuse and instead attempt to introduce an alarming level of control over the lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory."

Meanwhile, Northern Territory director of Catholic education Michael Avery says the Government's plan to increase school attendance in remote Indigenous communities is a positive start but more details are needed.

"Communities that we work with are very keen to see their children attend school and get a better opportunity than perhaps some of the previous generations have had," he said.

"So it depends on how that announcement of the Federal Government is implemented."

He says significant infrastructure needs to be in place to ensure the success of the plan.

NT bishop warns on 'bullyboy' tactics (ABC News, 24/6/07)
Media Release (Edmund Rice Centre)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Darwin diocese
Bishop Ted Collins (Darwin diocese)
Edmund Rice Centre

Wadeye Indigenous community appeals to Pell (CathNews, 21/11/06)
Aboriginal elder tells Catholics to challenge Indigenous injustices (CathNews, 15/9/06)
Bishops' social justice statement focuses on Indigenous disadvantage (CathNews, 14/9/06)

25 Jun 2007