Call for new approach to combating indigenous social issues

NEW WAY: Cheryl Coulthard-Waye holds a picture of her son David who took his own life. She proposes a new way to combat indigenous suicide and sexual abuse.

NEW WAY: Cheryl Coulthard-Waye holds a picture of her son David who took his own life. She proposes a new way to combat indigenous suicide and sexual abuse.

A grieving Aboriginal elder has called for mining royalties to be directly paid into schemes to combat indigenous suicide and sexual abuse among her people.

Adnyamathanha woman Cheryl Coulthard-Waye, of Port Augusta, lost both her sons to suicide about 20 years ago and was herself a victim of sexual abuse.

She said many abuse victims felt compelled to take their own lives, although she did not think this was the case with her sons.

"Mining royalties are paid to Aboriginal corporations both here and around Australia," she said.

"How much of that money finds its way into working with our people to cope with risks to their mental health and to help with the healing after they have been sexually abused.

"We need special schemes to be set up using these royalties to deal with what has become a nightmare for our community.

"Sexual abuse, particularly against our children, has become widespread and we have to do something about it."

Ms Coulthard-Waye suggested Aboriginal law was possibly more likely to "scare off" sexual offenders.

"White man's law is not enough of a deterrent. We need a return to Aboriginal lore - the spear," she said.

"Our women need to get together. They are crying out for help for their children and their grandchildren.

"Drug dealing and addiction has come into our communities. Some men are getting their wives to bag up and weigh the marijuana for sale.

"Our children are being abused and turn to drugs and when that wears off there is nothing and they commit suicide.

"It is just a simple, big vicious circle and everything gets swept under the carpet."

Observers in the Aboriginal industry have commented that the proposed royalty scheme might need new structures for services to combat the problems described by Ms Coulthard-Waye.

One source said that scheme could be set up to "partner" existing well-accomplished agencies.

Another said that no matter how much money was directed to a project, it would fail without the right people to run it.

The Transcontinental contacted Heathgate Resources, operator of the Beverley uranium mine in the outback, to ask about its attitude to setting up such a scheme.

A spokesperson said the company made Native Title payments "as per the terms and conditions of the agreement negotiated with our native titleholders".

"Decisions on the spending of those funds rightly rests with those native titleholders. It is their money," the spokesperson said.

SPENDING: South Australian Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says mining royalties are paid to the government and then directed into suicide prevention.

SPENDING: South Australian Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says mining royalties are paid to the government and then directed into suicide prevention.

Mining Minister and Wilmington-based Stuart MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan said royalties paid to the government found their way to relevant health services.

"The reality is mining royalties paid to the government go to all government spending whether it be roads, hospitals, disability services, police or nurses. It includes suicide prevention and everything else," he said.

"The royalties paid to the Aboriginal corporations which represent traditional owners are spent as those corporations see fit.

"It makes good sense to me that royalties paid to both the government and Aboriginal corporations could be used to address social challenges as well as infrastructure and other services."

Heathgate pays royalties - estimated to have totalled about $40 million so far - to the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association based in Port Augusta.

An association spokesman was unavailable.

This story 'Royalties should fight Aboriginal suicide, sex abuse' first appeared on The Transcontinental.

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