Group calls for Roy 'Dootch' Kennedy to quit

Activist and founder of the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Roy ‘‘Dootch’’ Kennedy.
Activist and founder of the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Roy ‘‘Dootch’’ Kennedy.

A small group of community and Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council members met in Wollongong on Friday to add their voices to the calls for Roy "Dootch" Kennedy to resign as chairman while he faces criminal charges.

Kennedy, the land council chairman, appeared in court last week on nine charges, including having sexual intercourse with a child aged between 10 and 16 on six separate occasions between 1992 and 1996. Police allege he also raped a child at different times between 1997 and 1999.

In a public statement released from Friday's meeting, the group said he should step down, and also suggested Kennedy hand back his 2010 Law and Justice Foundation Aboriginal justice award.

"We ask Roy 'Dootch' Kennedy to do the right thing by stepping down from any position that he might hold, in particular his role as the chairman of the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council," the meeting's public statement read.

The statement said child sex abuse allegations were not commonplace within the indigenous community.

"[The alleged abuse is] not typical behaviour of our community, or men," the public statement said.

A spokeswoman for the Law and Justice Foundation would not say whether it would revoke Kennedy's award.

The registrar of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Stephen Wright, has advised the land council that Kennedy can remain as a board member, but should step down as chairman while the matter is before the courts.

Moves could also be in motion to tell Kennedy he should leave the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy, where he has lived for much of the past decade.

The Mercury understands local elders do not want to give Kennedy shelter and will soon tell him he needs to leave the site. This would pose problems for Kennedy complying with his bail conditions, one of which is that he reside at the embassy, so a new arrangement would need to be made with regard to bail.

The embassy, also called "Kuradji", is at McCauleys Beach between Bulli and Thirroul.

It was set up in late 2000 by local indigenous people, including Kennedy, amid protests against an exclusive housing estate adjacent to the site proposed by developer Stockland.

The embassy is next to a significant Aboriginal site that had been an important traditional ceremony place, burial ground and meeting place.

In 1998, the remains of a person, dated to be 6000 years old, were found near a shell midden after heavy storms.

The beach and its foreground was declared a significant "Aboriginal place" by the NSW government in 2007.

The housing development, called McCauleys Beach, continues to grow.

Over the years, the embassy evolved from being first a group of tents, to later including more permanent structures, to its present form as a shack made of corrugated iron, windows and other loose materials. A cone-shaped structure has also been built out of concrete.

Much of the shack was destroyed by a fire in July 2011, which Kennedy blamed on arson.