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Your views: on ownership of an Aboriginal art gallery, and a controversial drug bill

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Today, readers question who is in charge of a proposed Aboriginal art and culture gallery on the old RAH site, and the impact of a tough drug law on Aboriginal youth.

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Commenting on the story: Kaurna concerns over Aboriginal art and culture gallery

It is not surprising that there is concern about the planning of the proposed National Gallery for Aboriginal Art and Cultures from both Kaurna representatives and Tandanya.

When the Liberals first announced this top-down initiative there was absolutely no public call for such a project, either from within the indigenous or the wider arts community. At the time it came as a bolt from the blue, cruelling the well-laid, far advanced plans by AGSA for Adelaide Contemporary.

Now, many months later, AGSA has released a public statement under its masthead, but not directly signed by either its director or chair, in support of the Government’s “cultural investment in Lot 14”.

It reads as a somewhat mendicant assertion of its stakeholder right to a place at the table, as much as being a public show of support for the Government’s plans. But would this be necessary if it was actually assured of its stake in the venture? Meanwhile, the SA Museum stays shtum, content it seems to manoeuvre behind the scenes.

What is going on? Who actually has ownership of this project, apart from the Premier’s office? Not the indigenous community, probably not AGSA either.

To date there has been a complete lack of transparency in the planning process, or lack of it, with politics and undue influence of insider lobbyists holding sway over the real cultural needs of Adelaide. Now a free-for-all is in the air.

With such lack of transparency there can be little confidence that the scoping study will do more than deliver a political fait accompli. This project should be driven by, and owned by, its cultural stakeholders, not by political advisors and politicians.

It is time to take this out of the hands of the Premier’s office and establish a steering committee, representing government, the stakeholder cultural institutions and indigenous cultural interests, with a charter firstly to assess the scoping study when it is complete and then to have governance of plans from this point. – Dr Margot Osborne

Commenting on the story: SA drug bill risks another Stolen Generation: Aboriginal Health Council

Abstinence – whether through voluntary counseling, self-help groups or court order – is the most effective treatment for drug addictions.

Once under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, a person loses all conscious control over his or her life. In these cases, it becomes a life or death decision.

These people are simply not in the position to make rational life saving decisions. In situations where the affected person does not seek voluntary treatment, it might be necessary for the courts to determine these unfortunate cases require a court ordered rehabilitation process.

I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a loving family, who after many years of watching my self destruction, finally convincing a very reluctant person who vehemently denied a drug addiction, to attend voluntary counseling at a self help group. The other choice was a lingering and painful death. If you’re dead you have no culture of which to speak. – Mike Lesiw 

Just how mandatory checking of these young Australians for those two horrendous addictions interferes with their traditional culture is beyond me.

I would have thought that by discovering which of these young people are addicted and then treating them in order to get them off alcohol and illicit drugs would, if anything, give them the chance to protect and practice their traditional culture. – Robert McCormick

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