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Toilet on sacred Aboriginal site to be investigated

THE construction of a pit toilet on a sacred Aboriginal site by a contractor with the Federal Government's intervention will be investigated, says the Northern Territory Government.

It is believed the toilet was built at the remote community of Numbulwar, about 600km southeast of Darwin.

Major General David Chalmers, who is overseeing the radical and sweeping reforms to combat child sex abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, yesterday said he would investigate the claim.

NT minister assisting the chief minister on indigenous policy, Elliot McAdam, today said the mishap raised serious questions about the Commonwealth's ability to engage with remote Aboriginal communities.

"It begs the questions ... in terms of the capacity of people associated with the intervention to be able to work in a real way with the communities and community members," he said.

Mr McAdam said the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) would conduct an inquiry into the incident.

The AAPA is a twelve-member board established under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act.

The act is legislation pursuant to special powers given to the Territory under Commonwealth legislation to protect sacred sites.

The Aboriginal lobby group Women for Wik today said the construction of the toilet demonstrated "fundamental flaws" with the intervention process.

"This has occurred despite repeated assurances ... that sacred sites would be protected", said Olga Havnen, CEO of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT.

"The desecration of sacred sites is not something that can be repaired."

Eileen Cummings, former policy adviser to the NT chief minister, said the mishap demonstrated why there should be no changes to the permit system, which controls the access of non-indigenous people onto Aboriginal land.

"You don't just go in and build something without talking to people. How can people know what is sacred and what isn't if they don't ask?" she said.

"I am not surprised that this could happen, given that the federal government is employing a deliberate policy of not consulting with Aboriginal communities.

"Even Telecom wouldn't put a line down without talking to the traditional owners."

Click to view image: '119159-DSC04804kanf.jpg'

Added: Nov-13-2007 
By: Interloper
Tags: toilet, sacred, aboriginal, site, australia, investigated
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