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Needed: European action on Indigenous Australians' rights

By Wendy Barnaby - posted Saturday, 15 September 2001

"Proper settlement with Indigenous people will not be reached in Australia without international pressure."

- Les Malezer, Director of
The Foundation for Aboriginal and
Islander Research Action

"There’s more to being an Aborigine than playing the didjeridu and posing in a barren landscape, spear in hand, before a mystical dusk backdrop," laughs bryan Andy. "For starters, my mob didn’t even have the didjeridu before the invasion!" Andy is one of the contributing authors to a new Lonely Planet guide to Aboriginal Australia & the Torres Strait Islands. The book is the first mainstream travel guide entirely dedicated to the ancestors of the land, and it will do much in Europe to raise awareness of the campaign for Indigenous Australians’ rights.


Cathy Freeman may have inspired domestic and international audiences alike at the Sydney Olympics, but the Australian government under Prime Minister John Howard has not been winning the race to ensure its Indigenous people’s dignity. On most of the indices that measure quality of life, Aborigines still fall below the standards of many third world nations.

During the 12 months beginning July 2000, the Australian government granted 3.54 million visitor visas: hundreds of thousands to young travellers from Europe. According to the Australian Tourist Commission, between 85 and 95% of international visitors to Australia want to experience Aboriginal tourism on subsequent visits; yet few encounter much of it on a typical trip or have little idea of how to do so responsibly.

The new guide – for the first time – will leave them in no doubt about how to approach Aboriginal projects. State by state, the book describes ventures owned or operated by Indigenous people – tours, cultural centres, camping areas, museums, sacred sites, art galleries – explaining their significance and, where necessary, proper behaviour for visitors.

Says coordinating author Sarina Singh, "Lonely Planet wants the tourism dollars to be directed to the appropriate Indigenous organisations. At its best, tourism not only brings income and employment, it also helps to protect the culture, since it allows Aborigines to provide access to their sites and to interpret them".

The guide is only one of several current important developments in Europe that will raise awareness of the campaign for Indigenous Australians’ rights.

A new website is online; a focal point for European activities in the campaign. The work of the European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights (ENIAR), the website contains more than 200 pages of news, action, background papers, events and a bulletin board for comments. aims not only to raise awareness of Indigenous issues with information, events and news, but also to help Indigenous Australians who are visiting Europe, with contacts and information. Links will be provided to access this information online.


ENIAR’s Paul Canning has designed the website. "The site enables ENIAR’s impact to be greater than our small group of members. Anyone, wherever they are can now easily find out all about us and – more importantly – get directly involved in the issues."

"The site is very interactive. We have a bulletin board and an email list. This allows ENIAR to immediately contact anyone signed up who's interested in our activities.

"We have recently added a new section providing information for Aboriginal people about campaigning in Europe. This sort of content is what the web can – uniquely – provide."

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The Lonely Planet guide to Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands can be purchased from If you buying the book via this or the above link, a portion of the sale price goes to ENIAR.

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About the Author

Wendy Barnaby is a member of the European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights.

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