7th March 2013
ALSWA’s Report Card reveals the Barnett Government has FAILED
The Barnett government has been handed a resounding FAIL in ALSWA’s report card on its handling of Aboriginal Affairs. With Western Australia having more Aboriginal children locked up in detention than any other Australian state or territory, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) CEO Adjunct Professor Dennis Eggington says that under Barnett’s stewardship, his government’s human rights’ record has been appalling.
Mr. Eggington says the policy of removal of Aboriginal children is still being brutally applied through the criminal justice system. “I am appalled that as we have record numbers of fair minded Western Australians heading to the ballot box, we also have record numbers of Aboriginal children heading to adult prisons” he said.
Commenting on the Barnett government’s reduction of ‘Redress WA’ compensation to Aboriginal people abused within state care, Mr. Eggington is equally as damning. “We had children whose lives were destroyed by a system that purported to protect and care for them. To ask people to relive these horrors and to then coldly reduce the level of compensation is nothing short of heartless” he said.
ALSWA has also slammed the pittance offered to Aboriginal Western Australians who had their wages stolen by the state. “To offer two thousand dollars to the very people who greased the wheels of this state’s industry whilst having their wages withheld is an act of treachery. Aboriginal people toiled in the factories and fields of the powerful and privileged and made this state the economic powerhouse it is today” said Mr. Eggington.
On the government’s so-called negotiations with traditional owners, ALSWA has once again handed the government a fail mark. “Threatening compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land (as in James Price Point) is not negotiation. It is nothing more than intimidation” said Mr. Eggington, also critical of Colin Barnett’s decision to name the Perth foreshore redevelopment ‘Elizabeth Quay’. “The Premier had an opportunity to make a powerful gesture of engagement with Aboriginal people, but instead he chose to tug his forelock to ingratiate himself to a figurehead of a foreign country. As Mr. Barnett has asked voters to judge him on his track record, ALSWA has, and we are not amused” said Mr. Eggington.
ALSWA is dismayed that in the lead up to Saturday’s State Election there has been a real absence of any strong political voice from major party leaders around how government’s will tackle the terrible social statistics that have been inflicted upon Aboriginal people. “These are very real issues of concern to Aboriginal people and whichever party is elected, they must make a genuine commitment to addressing these issues of concern and taking positive steps for improvement in WA, because much of the nation is rightfully embracing moving relationships forward, closing the gap and reconciliation” said Mr. Eggington.