Making the decisions
THE time when governments told the Aboriginal community what to do is gone, it's now all about consultation.
That was the message from NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister Milton Orkopoulos yesterday as he opened the Coffs Harbour Regional Office of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in front of a large crowd.
"For a long time, and not too long ago, the government made decisions for Aboriginal communities," Mr Orkopoulos said.
"Now we see things differently, and we make sure that Aboriginal people are there from the beginning."
Mr Orkopoulos said the regional office was a partnership between the government and the community.
"Aboriginal people and communities know what they need, and this office will play a critical role in building a partnership," he said.
"It is a $350,000 a year commitment to Aboriginal affairs in an area stretching to the Queensland border, west to Tabulam, and south to Nelson Bay."
The regional office will be co-located with the Indigenous Co-ordination Centre on Duke Street, giving Aboriginal communities in the region one point of con-tact.
"This is very important because the north-eastern region is one of the biggest in terms of (Aboriginal) population," Mr Orkopoulos said.
"It's an exciting time, a more responsive and hands-on approach. I hope the service proves worthy to you," Mr Orkopoulos said.
Aboriginal elder Aunty Gloria Phillips who emotionally made an introduction in Gumbaynggir language, said it was wonderful to have this service in the region.
"The three staff will be absolutely flat out," she said.
"They'll have some workload on their shoulder."