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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Kakadu Region Social Impact Study Released

20 August 1997

The findings of a comprehensive and independent study of the social impact of development on Aboriginal communities in the Kakadu region have been released today in Canberra.

The Kakadu Region Social Impact Study (KRSIS) has been jointly released by Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Mr Pat Dodson, the Independent Chair of the KRSIS Study Advisory Group.

The KRSIS was initiated last year by Senator Robert Hill, the NT Government, the Northern Lands Council and ERA.

The study examined the social and cultural impacts on Aboriginal people of various developments in the region over the last 20 years, including mining, tourism, conservation and urban development.

Two reports have been produced:

Senator Hill stated that the KRSIS process had produced two valuable reports.

"The report of the Study Advisory Group provides a balanced and honest assessment of the social impacts of development in the Kakadu region. It represents a major contribution to the development of policies affecting the Kakadu region and has the potential to significantly assist Government decision making in this respect.

"The reports noted that some aspects of development in the region have been successful - for example, joint management of the World Heritage listed national park. It also notes that development has allowed the Aboriginal communities to make significant economic investments such as the hotel, caravan park, tourist facilities and service station.

The report notes, however, that on balance the twenty years of development in the region has generally not been translated into the social and economic benefits for Aboriginal communities that were originally expected.

"Key social indicators such as education, employment and health illustrate that development in the Kakadu region has not delivered the expected benefits for the Aboriginal communities in the region," Senator Hill said.

"The challenge in responding to this report is to ensure that development provides benefits for the local community. It is a challenge which will require action from Governments, the communities themselves and other key stakeholders."

Senator Hill indicated that the Government would be preparing a formal response to the Report of the Study Advisory Group, in consultation with key stakeholders, as soon as possible.

Key recommendations in the Study Advisory Group relate to:

- maximising Aboriginal employment;
- developing an Economic Development Plan for aboriginal communities;
- addressing alcohol related social impacts;
- establishing an Aboriginal Education Centre, an Outstation Resource Centre and a Women's Resource Centre; and
- the future of Jabiru Town.

Senator Hill acknowledged the efforts of the Aboriginal Project Committee and the Study Advisory Group.

"Both reports addressed complex issues in a sensitive manner and were completed on schedule, reflecting a very professional performance from the Chair of the Study Advisory Group. Pat Dodson, and the Chair of the Aboriginal Project Committee, Victor Cooper."

Senator Hill also thanked the other parties to the KRSIS process.

Media Contact: Matt Brown, 02 6277 7640, 0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia