Tackle Indigenous problems, not symptoms: Caritas

Praising the "renewed vigour" of Government proposals to tackle abuse and neglect in Australia's Indigenous communities, Caritas Australia has warned that money alone will not solve problems and says that political will as well as a long term plan is needed.

In a statement, Caritas Australia yesterday said it welcomed the Australian Government's recognition of the urgent need to support the Indigenous people of Australia to overcome the shameful, longstanding situations of abuse and neglect.

"For too long the issue of rights and justice for Indigenous Australians has been neglected and Caritas Australia supports the renewed vigour with which the Federal Government is attempting to address the problems," CEO Jack de Groot said.

"Caritas Australia is chiefly an international development organisation and our work with Indigenous populations in Australia clearly illustrates organisations like ourselves have seen the need - and been acting to address the structural problems that exist in Indigenous communities for well over a decade."

However, Mr de Groot said recognising the problem is only the "first step".

He says meeting the many health, education, housing, and social disadvantage challenges for Indigenous Australians require "a greater commitment of resources and a long term plan".

"Caritas Australia, as a member of the Close the Gap coalition, is calling for an additional $460 million per year allocated to Indigenous health programs as a first step," says Mr de Groot.

"Money alone will not solve the problem, but if combined with political will and a long term plan to engage and activate Indigenous Australians and health care workers, teachers, social workers and law enforcement professionals, this is a situation that we can turn around," he said.

Meanwhile, The Age reports that Catholic church welfare agencies have joined other groups to protest against Federal Government intervention in the troubled Mutitjulu community near Uluru.

International peace group Pax Christi also says that it is distressed by the action of the Federal Government in shelving the plan to build 150 houses for desperate Aboriginal people this year.

The funds were available and already set aside for this purpose but the Minister Mal Brough announced that this plan has now been abandoned, Pax Christi said in a statement.

Indigenous Justice - Tackle the problem, not just the symptoms (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 25/6/07)
It's our hurricane Katrina, says emotion-charged PM (The Age, 26/6/07)
Talisman Sabre Vs 150 Aboriginal Houses (Pax Christi Australia, 25/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
Pax Christi - Australia
Family and Community Services
Close the Gap (GetUp!)

Avoid "bullyboy" approach: Darwin bishop (CathNews, 25/6/07)
Changes stigmatise welfare recipients: Catholic Social Services (CathNews, 22/6/07)
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)

26 Jun 2007