POLL: Indigenous leaders slam Sandon Point plans 

Illawarra indigenous leaders have blasted Wollongong City Council's plans for Sandon Point, labelling them "an affront" to Aborigines that harked back to the days of "mission management".

Councillors last night voted unanimously to put the draft plan of management on public exhibition for an extended three-month period.

MORE: Councillors seek public feedback

Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Sharralyn Robinson said she was deeply upset by the council's draft Sandon Point plan of management which contained options to formalise the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy site - a decision, she claimed, over which local government has no jurisdiction.

Mrs Robinson acknowledged the land council and tent embassy (ILALC and SPATE) had been involved in initial consultation with the council to develop the draft plan of management, which included discussion over the SPATE site.

But she said Aboriginal groups had not been told the document would include four options governing the embassy's future on the site, or that those options would be put out for public comment.

"The general public should not have a say on whether the embassy stays out there [at Sandon Point]," she said.

"We are quite capable of setting our own destiny, we are quite capable of knowing what rules and regulations we need to surround our embassy.

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"There is no respect or acknowledgment of Aboriginal people when they [the council] feel they have to give us options about how we are going to mind our own business.

"SPATE will use all legal means to ensure the draft plan is not implemented if it requires the removal and/or control of embassy structures, activities or land."

Mrs Robinson called for the draft plan to be scrapped and for the council to start again, this time including Aboriginal groups every step of the way.

SPATE ambassador and ILALC chairman Roy "Dootch" Kennedy said Sandon Point was the most sacred Aboriginal cultural site on the eastern seaboard and the third most major cultural site in Australia.

"We have an ancient burial site out here, containing at least nine bodies - this is not a collection of shells," he said.

"We've done everything to protect the site, and the community has done everything to destroy the site."

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