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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 12:14 GMT
Aborigine singer 'left for dead'
Delmae Barton (Picture credit: Salubrious Productions)
Opera singer Delmae Barton has worked both at home and abroad
An investigation has been launched after a prominent Aboriginal woman in Australia was left for dead after collapsing at a busy city bus stop.

Singer Delmae Barton, 62, says she lay for more than five hours in a pool of her own vomit after suffering a suspected stroke or diabetes attack.

Her plight was ignored by hundreds of commuters who passed by in the Queensland city of Brisbane.

State officials have apologised and promised an urgent inquiry.

Ms Barton, a well-respected opera singer and indigenous elder, says she believes she was left unattended because of her race.

"I think it did make a difference," she told ABC radio.

Apology in parliament

Ms Barton said that after collapsing at the bus stop, near a university campus, one man moved his briefcase away from her.

"And there were girls and young women who sat on the seat next to me and other seats around, they never came around to help," she added.

Map of Australia

Japanese students eventually came to her rescue, calling an ambulance to take her to hospital.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie apologised to Ms Barton in parliament, and urged people not to ignore those who find themselves in similar situations.

"We should not leave them lying there," he said. "Australians are noted for their giving of a fair go, their commitment and their compassion. We should never lose it."

Sometimes known as the Dreamtime Opera Diva, Ms Barton has been involved in many ballets, operas and orchestras at home and abroad over the years.

She represented Australia at the Canadian Arts Festival in 2002, and her son, William, is a high-profile didgeridoo player.

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