29 Aug 2014

Aboriginal leader says visit not enough

8:51 am on 29 August 2014

An Australian Aboriginal leader says the federal government needs to canvass more indigenous communities before developing policies for tangata whenua, rather than from just a couple of visits to Aboriginal settlements.

Dr Tom Calma

Dr Tom Calma Photo: University of Canberra

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has kept his election promise to spend a week in an Aboriginal community.

On 15 September, Mr Abbott will be hosted by a Gumatj tribal leader, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, in northeast Arnham Land, and will stay in two remote towns.

Aboriginal academic Dr Tom Calma said although it was a great opportunity for the Gumatj people to talk to the Prime Minister about how they wanted to advance the indigenous population, other communities also needed to be consulted.

"There are many other Aboriginal communities around Australia that would benefit by having a different perspective to those two communities", he said.

"Something will be gained from up there (Arnham Land) but what we don't want to do is see policy developed for the rest of the nation based on the experience of just a couple of visits... That tends to be what has happened in the past."

National Indigenous Television political correspondent Myles Morgan recently told Te Manu Korihi that there are mixed reactions among indigenous leaders about Mr Abbott's Aboriginal stayover.

He said half the people he had spoken to supported Mr Abbott's visit, while the other half thought that it was just a meaningless publicity stunt.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs