Public shaming of Roebourne slammed by Aboriginal leaders

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WA Federal Senator Pat Dodson.
Camera IconWA Federal Senator Pat Dodson. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Federal Senator Pat Dodson has warned WA may be headed down the same line as the NT intervention, because of the public shaming of Roebourne and rhetoric around the cashless welfare card.

Mr Dodson last week attended the Yule River bush meeting, where he described how fathers in the top end became too scared to let their children sit on their knee because of the risk of being accused of being a pervert when the intervention was announced.

“It was terrible when NT intervention took place and all men were deemed to be child sex offenders,” he said.

“Of course people have to be charged if they are guilty of crimes against children, but unless leaders in the community are supportive, all the bureaucrats and Government ministers in the world will not solve the problem.

“It is unjust to let this linger as long as it has and for the press to have had a field day with the innocent people who live in Roebourne.”

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt criticised the former Police Commissioner for his role in the publicity around issues in Roebourne.

“One thing that is not acceptable is the humiliation and demeaning of the entire community that has happened to Roebourne,” he said.

“The new Police Commissioner has a much better understanding of that than the last one.”

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Simon Hawkins said recent rhetoric was painting all Pilbara Aboriginal people with the same brush.

“All it is doing is discrediting Aboriginal people, turning it into a race issue and saying this is the reason we need the cashless welfare card,” he said.

“It is not going to encourage advancement in conversations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and it is not going to encourage leaders to stand up and present solutions to these issues.”

Mr Hawkins said the YMAC board would meet with Minderoo Foundation to discuss the cashless welfare card.

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