Australia's Aborigines

New York Times, The (NY) - Friday, April 23, 2004

Abstract: Letter from Janet Mackin, Embassy of Australia, defends country's attempt to improve conditions of aborigines (April 18 article)

To the Editor:

Re "Aborigines Say Australia Pushes Their Plight to Sideline" (news article, April 18):

Australia is seriously committed to improving the conditions of its indigenous people.

You might have mentioned that the Australian government's spending on indigenous programs has increased by one-third in real terms since 1996.

This increase has been accompanied by an increase in high school retention rates and university enrollments, a reduction in unemployment of indigenous Australians, and improvement in health indicators.

The results are not as good as we would like. But far from sidelining issues, the Australian government is bringing indigenous programs into the mainstream by having them managed by the same departments that are responsible for providing services to the Australian community at large.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which, as you report, is being abolished, is widely acknowledged not to have been up to the job.

Counselor, Embassy of Australia
Washington, April 22, 2004

Edition: Late Edition - Final
Section: Editorial Desk
Page: 22