Alison Anderson: separate is not equal


Indigenous MP Alison Anderson

ABC Radio National 'Life Matters' 11th November, 2010

There's a big gap in health, education and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and the gap is widest in remote Indigenous communities.

Indigenous MP Alison Anderson believes a culture of separatism drives the poor outcomes in education and employment. She talks to Life Matters ahead of her speech at the Centre for Independent Studies tonight.

AUDIO Audio file  Alison Anderson Interview   mp3 file

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Phase out separatist policies, MP Alison Anderson urges

Patricia Karvelas The Australian November 11, 2010

Northern Territory independent MP Alison Anderson has called for a radical end to "separatist" policies.

Ms Anderson says the policies have created an industry of indigenous-only jobs and Aboriginal-only schools, which she describes as "second-rate".

Ms Anderson will tell the Centre for Independent Studies tonight that "dead-end jobs" funded by the taxpayer, including park rangers and Aboriginal teacher assistants, should be phased out.

She argues that the second-rate education available to Aborigines in remote communities means they are denied most real jobs and are instead funnelled into dead-end jobs with limited opportunities.

Her argument is that the existence of these jobs leads to low ambition.

Ms Anderson told The Australian that Aboriginal adults who did work in remote communities were often stuck in dead-end jobs such as those related to Community Development Employment Projects or segregated Aboriginal career stream positions.

Ms Anderson, a former NT indigenous affairs minister, has accused the territory government of designing confusing, piecemeal attendance policies requiring further layers of administration, including the provision of rewards for regular school attendance in the form of free SMS, phone credits, music and film downloads.

She is also opposed to on-the-spot fines for those who do not attend.

Ms Anderson is calling for an overhaul of indigenous education, with fully qualified, high-end teachers being paid to work in schools and an end to schools which educate only Aborigines.

"Today there is still a culture of separatism that pervades central Australian society, including education," she said. "Secondary and tertiary boarding schools have been developed strictly for Aboriginal children and adults, but there is little value in the education they receive."

Ms Anderson said literacy and numeracy results from these schools were too poor not to take action.

"The availability of jobs on remote Aboriginal communities is greater than people would imagine. In communities like Mutitjulu and Yuendumu, for example, no one should be on welfare but the old and frail."

Ms Anderson said jobs for Aboriginal people had long been unsustainable, subsidised placements outside the mainstream: the CDEP, subsidised community art centres and segregated employment streams such as Aboriginal teaching assistants, health aides, community police officers, and even indigenous ranger programs all contributed to the view that Aboriginal people could not cope in a mainstream job.

"Separate is never equal. There is not a black way and a white way, there is only one way and that is the right way," she said.

"We must have schools that take in every child, whether you're white, black or brindle. The outcomes at these schools are just so appalling. We just can't stand by and watch it happen."

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