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Confusion Over Roundtable

SR Annette Arnold RSJ protests (CL 5/11/00) against the decision that at the indigenous roundtable I was “representing the Church”.

The fact is that I was not representing the Church. The Leader report on October 22 that she quotes was wrong.

The truth is that the roundtable was not constituted as a representative body. It was an innovative attempt to develop a fresh approach to the desperate plight of so many indigenous people. There have been some striking successes, but progress has been patchy and some communities are facing a catastrophe.

Everyone around that table knew this, and wanted to develop guidelines to help the victims help themselves. Lateral thinking was called for.

It was Noel Pearson who made this possible by his courageous naming of welfare dependency as causing the destruction of Aboriginal people and their culture in this generation. Evelyn Scott backed him. Another candidly names the fraud that prevents allocated monies from reaching their intended target – the people and their projects.

As to the specific problems Sr Annette mentions (domestic violence and alcoholism), who could equal Boni Robertson, chair of the Queensland Taskforce on Violence and Abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, on these subjects? Her voice carried the “grief” of a people.

It would be yet another tragedy for the indigenous if this genuine attempt to advance their cause were sidetracked into a debate triggered by an inaccurate news report.

G.J. JORDAN SJ Chaplain St Leo’s College St Lucia, Qld

The Catholic Leader understands that while Fr Jordan did not represent the Catholic Church in an official capacity at the roundtable, he was the only person asked to attend, in part, because of his religious background. Insofar as he is an ordained minister it was considered fair to say he was representing the Church, even though it was not on a formally delegated basis. Ed

Written by: Staff writers
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