MEDIA RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
AUSTRALIA

D79

9 November 1998

Launch Of Major Touring Exhibition - 'New Directions' - Aboriginal Australia And Business

A major touring exhibition which highlights cooperative ventures between indigenous Australians and the mining industry was launched in Canberra today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer.

The exhibition, New Directions - Aboriginal Australia and Business, was developed jointly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Rio Tinto. It focuses on a series of cooperative projects between Rio Tinto companies and Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland aimed at developing employment and training opportunities, environmental rehabilitation, heritage protection, business enterprises, cultural awareness, education, health and sports.

Launching the exhibition, Mr Downer said although broad international perceptions of Australia were improving, some of the stereotyped and uni-dimensional images of the past still persisted. These included outdated or incorrect perceptions about Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including their relationship with industry. The exhibition sought to change the misconception that Australia's Indigenous communities were opposed to any form of business or industry progress.

The concept of the exhibition arose out of the National Reconciliation Convention in 1997, at which the Rio Tinto subsidiary Hamersley Iron was declared national winner in the business category of the Reconciliation Awards. DFAT invited Rio Tinto (and other award nominees) to participate in a project which would demonstrate the benefits of cooperation between Aboriginal communities and industry.

Eight major cooperative activities are highlighted in the exhibition through photographs, audio-visuals and interactives. They include: a dust reduction project in Ngukurr in Amhem Land; the development of a preventative health program targeting kidney disease among the Tiwi people on Bathurst and Melville Islands; the development of a cross-cultural training program conducted by the local Gidja people for non-Aboriginal employees of the Argyle Diamond Mine in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia; and the establishment of a range of business enterprises and joint ventures in the Cape York region by the Napranum Aboriginal Corporation and Comalco and in the Pilbara region in north west Australia by the Gurnala Aboriginal Corporation and Hamersley Iron and its suppliers.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade supported the touring exhibition as part of its commitment to projecting abroad an accurate and contemporary image of Australia. The exhibition's tour will start in Manila on 16 November 1998 as part of a major festival Australia is holding there to mark the centenary of Philippines independence. The exhibition is then planned to tour to at least 10 other destinations during 1999-2000, including South Korea in March 1999 and Japan in June 1999.

Media Inquiries:

Tony Melville/Kirk Coningham (02) 6261 1555