In their two articles “Macklin opts for luxury in Aurukun” on 26 March and “Aurukun boat barbecue leaves a sour taste” on 27 March The Australian chose to portray Aurukun Wetland Charters in a negative light. This was clearly an opportunity to report on something positive and instead was simply a headline grab.
Aurukun Wetland Charters applauds Minister Jenny Macklin for taking the time to visit and support a fledgling Indigenous tourism enterprise.
The $680 per night charge advertised for the boat includes three meals, all snacks as well as numerous full day activities undertaken with the local Indigenous people, such as story place walks and talks, traditional food preparation, honey gathering and bush walks. The vessel also journeys along the multitude of waterways of the Aurukun Wetlands. In this case it didn’t pick up the anchor and go anywhere. The $150 that the minister and her party did pay represents fair value for providing dinner and one night’s accommodation.
Aurukun Wetland Charters is receiving immense support from the tourism industry with companies such as Qantas Holidays, Infinity Holidays, Sunlover Holidays, Conservation Volunteers, Oddyssey Travel, Wild Earth Adventures, Abercrombie and Kent as well as numerous Inbound Tour Operators and overseas wholesalers having put Aurukun Wetland Charters in their brochures and selling this unique Indigenous Australian experience. For all those Australians who have never had the good fortune to interact with some of the most traditional Aboriginal people in the country this is a truly meaningful opportunity.
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The Australian’s latest negative story mentions that two Indigenous people attended the BBQ aboard the MV Pikkuw. What it doesn’t mention is that both are the Traditional Owners and directors of the Aurukun Wetland Charters operation and were the hosts of the dinner function. Other community leaders and members had the opportunity to meet the minister and express their views. They had spent all afternoon and some of the next morning in meetings and consultations with the Government delegation.
Gina Castelain, the person referred to in the article as having grown up in Cairns and spent much of her life in Melbourne is in fact, a role model for Aboriginal people in all of Australia. Gina, 22-years-old, is a member of the Western Cape Communities Trust — Southern Sub-Regional Trust Pty. Ltd., and a director of Aurukun Wetland Charters Ltd., and Aurukun Earthmoving Pty Ltd. These are businesses owned by a group of Traditional Owners of Aurukun — Gina’s people.
She is also a director of Wik Projects Ltd, a newly formed organization with a vision for the future that marries education for the children and businesses for them to come home to. She is a champion of the concept of an Orbital society for Aboriginal people, and is an example of a young Aboriginal person who left her community to get a good education. After studying for a Masters Degree in Leadership and Organisational Development she now spends all of her time working on the development of an educational and economic future for her people.
Gina Castelain said, “This is typical mis-reporting by mainstream white media. We’ve moved on long ago and you should too. I was there and I expect the other journalists are now flinching at the attitude taken by The Australian’s reporter during this visit.”