Black leaders lay the blame on politicians
By Ian Gerard and Drew Warne-Smith
INDIGENOUS leaders yesterday accused state and federal governments of failing to tackle the problems faced by young Aborigines living in the suburb they called a "national embarrassment".
Acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairman Lionel Quartermaine blamed politicians for failing to alleviate poverty within Redfern.
"Far too many of our fellow citizens live in circumstances of violence and squalor through no fault of their own and with little or no prospect of improvement," Mr Quartermaine said.
"Successive state governments in NSW have failed to make a difference, and successive federal governments have failed to hold the state accountable for its inaction or ineffectiveness.
"Through their failures, they have created and maintained the dysfunction in the Redfern community and should accept the responsibility for what occurred yesterday.
"This honesty must include admitting that the problems in Redfern are an embarrassment for Australia and its biggest city."
At an impromptu public meeting in Redfern's notorious Eveleigh Street yesterday, community leaders accused police of regularly harassing and beating Aboriginal youths in the area.
"The stand had to be taken once and for all," Lyall Munro said. "We're sick of the intimidation by police. You should be proud of the efforts of young people to defend Aboriginal people."
Mr Munro lashed out at ATSIC and other indigenous organisations, which he said had failed to represent local Aborigines adequately.
"These black leaders, they assume they know what is going on at The Block." he said. "But where were they on Saturday? Not one of them has been down here to express their sympathy to Gail and her family."