Crocs might put Aboriginies back on their land


Aloysius Narjic always thought the huge crocodile he calls Boss that has lurked in a swamp near his house for more than 30 years would eventually bring luck. But now he sees it as the saviour of his clan that for decades has lived in Wadeye, an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory that has been racked by gang violence where more than 2500 people live in Third World conditions, according to a feature in The Sydney Morning Herald (3/8/2006, p.5).

Business is a croc: "That old croc is a cunning thing… I’ve been watching him for years and knew that one day I could do something with him," said Mr Narjic, a 53-year-old elder of the Velr Dirrangara clan. Mr Narjic wanted to develop a crocodile breeding business that he said would provide jobs for his family at their Wudapuli outstation, 40 minutes drive from Wadeye. Crocodile eggs sell for $15 and mature crocodiles are worth hundreds of dollars.

Resettlers v Howard: "It’s no good for my boys in Port Keats," said Mr Narjic, referring to Wadeye by its former Catholic mission name. But Mr Narjic and the elders of other clans, who wanted to resettle on their traditional land away from Wadeye’s problem, would first have to convince the Howard Government, which has ordered an audit of about 1000 Aboriginal settlements where there are fewer than 100 people.

Untenable tenements under audit: The Government has made it clear it wants to move people away from unviable settlements. Mr Narjic recently pleaded with a Canberra bureaucrat who came to Wudapuli for help in setting up the crocodile venture, arguing that he could develop profitable businesses where his family would be happier than in Wadeye.

Outstations the answer says council: The Thamarrurr Regional Council, which administers Wadeye, has told the Federal and Northern Territory governments in a just-released report that moving people to out-stations would reduce violence and social pressures in the town. "People appear to have much improved physical and psychological health when they live on their traditional estates," the report says.

Infrastructure boost needed: The report argues that several of Wadeye’s out-station settlements were already operating successfully but they needed infrastructure upgrades, including roads and access to health and education. They had tense meetings with the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, who ordered them to clean up Wadeye’s rubbish-strewn houses and threatened to cut off welfare payments to gang members.

20 into one: Since the Catholic mission was established in Wadeye in the 1930s up to 20 different clans have been living on land traditionally owned by one clan. The other clan groups now want to move to their traditional land "in order to provide a better future for their children", the report said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3/8/2006, p. 5

Source: Erisk Net  

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