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

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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 These included outdated or incorrect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

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

Last Updated: 19 September 2014
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