Wednesday, June 21, 2006


The following brief exchange took place at a hearing of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. The Chairman is Mr Wakelin; his question is directed to the President of the Maningrida Council, Morris Geinbaraba:
CHAIR—I need to bring up a difficult issue. I need your help because it is cultural, it is to do with community capacity et cetera and it is to do with the issue that Maningrida received publicity on in recent months about so-called child brides or whatever. I do not blame you if you do not want to comment because it is a difficult issue. I have to be careful; I am not even sub judice—and obviously there are still some issues between the courts, and your own Attorney-General, Peter Toyne is looking at it as well. I am asking about this in the sense of the community and if you say, ‘Leave it, we do not want to talk about it,’ then I respect that. But I am interested in how the community feels. Morris, are you able to speak—or someone else—to guide me on cultural challenges like this which the nation and your own Territory government have a view about? I will respect it if people say, ‘No, we do not want to deal with it here; it is difficult enough trying to deal with it.’ If somebody wants to comment, then I would appreciate a comment on the general points.

Mr Geinbaraba—I remember years ago that council came up with this idea about forming the council in a traditional way. Elders could have places as board members and they could stand and have the power to look after the whole community and the whole corporation—not by taking over the jobs which the community would do but by giving them advice on how we could communicate with the white society as well as Aboriginal society. We came up with this and we were looking at some way that we could form the traditional elders council. We were thinking about how we could set up the program for them to go ahead with those activities for young and old. We were thinking about where we could get the funds from, how we could set that body up and which office we could use—whether it is Bawinanga or the council. The only problem that we had was the budget. There were many difficult things here that we needed to sort out, so we came up with that idea.
Mr Wakelin almost asked this difficult question, which Mr Geinbaraba saw no need to answer, back in November 2002. The sexual abuse of children is still a problem in at least some Aboriginal communities and will continue to be a problem until some really difficult questions are asked and answers demanded.


Anonymous Wylie Wilde said...

Wakelin is full of PC shit but I wonder whether he's related to Cara Wakelin, the glorious Playboy playmate from the 1990s.

12:58 PM  

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