Minister refuses to meet with Lake Tyers Protesters

Celine Foenander ABC Gippsland 22 March, 2011

Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell says she will not meet with protestors who have been blockading the entrance of the Lake Tyers Trust in East Gippsland for the past two weeks.

The Minister told ABC Gippsland's Mornings Program she was not prepared to meet with aggrieved members of the Aboriginal community until the protest was called off and all staff, including the Trust's administrator was allowed in.

"If they want to be members of the community and talk to me as members of the community and while they have allowed the services to go back in, they have allowed the workers to go back in, that's a different matter. They will then become residents of the community and I will be happy to talk to them," Ms Powell said.

The protestors have been calling for a meeting with the Minister to address their concerns over the administrator's governance of the Trust.

They want the restoration of self-governance through a community-appointed board.

An administrator was called in seven years ago amid mismanagement of the Trust and ongoing social issues.

Ms Powell said she agreed with the decision to appoint an administrator.

"The community of Lake Tyers said that they wanted a renewal project, which is what's happening at the moment and they believed themselves that it needed to be a minimum of 10 years. They recognised the failure of short term management issues in the past," she said.

"(This administrator) has put in place over his four years a number of very positive programs. He has been able to attract money there for new homes and he really does care about what happens in that community. He's gone back to work today and hopefully now we'll be able to get back to business as normal."

Ms Powell said the administrator would remain at the Trust for at least four years, "until the governance is right".

"We will not pull an administrator out before the programs have had an opportunity of working," she said.

"What we are doing is a first in Australia. It's putting community governance training into place for those people. We're hoping to get younger people involved as well so that they have the opportunity of being the voice of their people."

Ms Powell was adamant the protestors' view was not shared by the majority of residents at the Trust.

She said the administrator was trying to re-establish a self-governance regime.

"There is a model where we'll have a shareholder committee and there'll be a residents committee because obviously the residents have different needs and wants," she said.

Ms Powell said she was scheduled to visit the Trust in May.



I'll take your word for it - image removed

picture of minister - IS NOT

that portrait picture is not of Jeanette Powell - its a photoshop picture of Jill Gallagher CEO of VACCHO.

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