Turn On, Tune In

The ABC Television program Difference of Opinion this week features “A New Deal for Indigenous Australians?” Thursday, October 18 at 9:25. Here’s a preview of what to expect:

Prime Minister John Howard has announced a vision for a “new reconciliation”. The proposed changes to the preamble of the Constitution have bi-partisan support. But what does this mean for Indigenous Australians? Is it an election ploy or does it reflect a wider shift in attitude and a community push for reconciliation between black and white Australia? Will the proposed formal recognition of the special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the nation’s first people assist the reconciliation process? Is it enough or should there be an apology as some Indigenous leaders are still calling for?

This call comes just over three months after the Federal Government’s takeover of Northern Territory Communities. Also receiving bipartisan support, the emergency response was in response to a report detailing the extent of child abuse in the Territory. The panel will discuss what inroads are being made in changing health, education and employment opportunities and what it means for the future of these communities? What are the impacts of the abolition of CDEP and the quarantining of welfare payments? How do changes to the alcohol laws affect the communities – is it enough or should it go further? Are children better off? And is the $1.3 billion for this 5 year plan being well spent?

This Thursday October 18, ABC TV’s Difference of Opinion program will bring together an expert panel to discuss these important issues.   On the panel will be Dr Sue Gordon, Chair of the National Indigenous Council and the Northern Territory Taskforce, Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Professor Lowitja O’Donoghue, AM, Aboriginal health and welfare advocate, Inaugural Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and Olga Havnen, Co-ordinator, Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory.

The program will be aired at 9.25 on Thursday evening and will be the first in a range of programs addressing election issues in the weeks coming up to November 24.

If you’re like me and can’t catch the show when it airs, you can download it from their video archives afterwards. The files are large (170MB), so even with a fast internet connection you’re looking at a 15-minute download. Shows are available in Windows Media (WMV) and Quicktime (MP4) formats. You can watch it on your iPod!! How cool is that?!

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