------ Forwarded Message
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 13:02:43 +1000
Subject: [atsic] Media Release:  LAND AND SEA RIGHTS A MAJOR PRIORITY

(Statement by Commissioner for Queensland Far North West Murrandoo Yanner)

I have a number of priority issues to pursue in my first term as an elected

These include the ongoing fight for land and sea rights in my region.

These are particularly important given the strong traditional cultural
imperatives for proper land and sea management.

I have a strong history of grass roots activism in the area of family

Resolving this issue is central to the ongoing survival of our people.

It is imperative local Aboriginal people control the development,
implementation and management of programs aimed at reducing family violence
in our communities.

Any solution will need to include both victims and perpetrators. Any
approach which ignores the needs of Aboriginal men is doomed to fail.

An approach which includes all family members is the only one that will
work. I am heartened that ATSIC is pursuing this approach which is the only
culturally appropriate way to proceed.

Youth suicide is another issue of paramount concern.

The reintroduction of traditional ceremony into the Mornington Island
community is one way of rebuilding self esteem and cultural pride in our

Increased employment and training opportunities in the mining and pastoral
industries, particularly for our young people, are also paramount in our
fight against the scourge of youth suicide and self harm.

I have worked closely in recent years with Torres Strait Islanders in the
fight for access to commercial fisheries. It has reinforced my view that
unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is the key to
advancing our aspirations.

The similarities in our cultures, values, connections to land and sea and
historical dispossession are profound.

I also pledge to strongly support proposals for a treaty between Indigenous
peoples and the Australian Government.

The current proposals for a treaty build on the groundbreaking work done by
previous Aboriginal leaders, particularly that of the Federal Council for
Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI) in the
1960's and 70's.

I also intend to work as an ATSIC Commissioner to highlight the reality that
many of our people are still dying in custody.

I want to particularly highlight the cases of two young men who have died in
police custody over the past two years.

Robbie Parker was killed in the police lock-up in Cloncurry. Its alleged he
was doused in petrol and set alight.

Nathan Mills, it is alleged, died as a result of being run over by two
police officers on Thursday Island during a car chase.

In both these cases police officers refused to give evidence during the
coronial inquiries and the coroners' reports were inconclusive.

I look forward to taking up my work as ATSIC Commissioner for this region
and intend to follow the lead of my father, the major influence on my life.

He was a leader of his people, having been elected as National Aboriginal
Congress (NAC) representative for his region and a Commissioner on the
Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) who passed on his passion for
justice and an understanding of the principles of struggle and of leadership

He also founded the Carpentaria Land Council, Queensland longest running
land council, where I have been honoured to continue his work in my position
as Chief Executive Officer.

I would also like to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made to his
people and to indigenous affairs by the outgoing Commissioner Lester
The recognition we have as Indigenous peoples in North Queensland today
could not have been achieved without him.  His experience and commitment
will always be invaluable to our people.
I wish him every success in the future as he goes on to establish yet
another milestone in his career.

Murrandoo Yanner
Commissioner for Queensland Far North West

Media Contact                       Alistair Harris      0409 658 177

(Note:  Murrandoo Yanner's biographical details are attached to this

Murrandoo Yanner's Biographical Details

Murrandoo Yanner is a Gangalidda man of the Gunamulla clan.

He was born and raised in the Gulf country of North Queensland where he
still lives with his wife Rachel and their six boys.

Aged 29, Murrandoo is the youngest person ever to be elected to the position
of ATSIC Commissioner.  However, he is no stranger to the organisation.

Murrandoo was first elected as a regional councillor on the ATSIC Gulf North
West Regional Council in 1992 at the age of 19.

He was educated at primary level in the lower Gulf before attending a number
of boarding schools in Charters Towers and completing his secondary
education at Atherton State High School.

He then commenced a degree in journalism and won a cadetship at the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio journalist.

His cadetship was interrupted by the death of his father and a request from
his community to return home to "pick up my father's spear."

He nominates his main hobbies as hunting, fishing and reading to further his

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