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Issue #1739      July 13, 2016

Organisations push for post-election summit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations met in Sydney prior to the federal election to map out the first steps towards a new relationship between Australia’s First Peoples and the federal government – no matter who wins government on July 2.

The meeting, coordinated by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, builds on the Redfern Statement, a series of demands of government by peak Indigenous organisations released earlier this month.

Congress co-chair Jackie Huggins said that regardless of the election result, it was an opportunity to reset the relationship Indigenous people and organisations have with government.

“As we pointed out a few weeks ago, we have barely seen a mention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy or issues this election campaign,” she said. “There have been some positive commitments made in some areas by some of the contesting parties, but otherwise the needs of our people tend to be pushed even further to the margins during election campaigns.”

Congress co-chair Rod Little said last week’s discussions had resulted in some proposed steps for the incoming federal government to help establish a new relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

“We have an opportunity to start some new positive norms in the relationship between government and Australia’s First Peoples,” he said.

“Built on trust”

“Ultimately, we want a strong relationship built on trust that delivers outcomes for our people.”

The first two steps the group came up with were a meeting with the prime minister and a coalition of Indigenous leaders within a month of the new government, and for the government to commit to a First Peoples summit within 100 days. At the planned meeting with the prime minister, the Indigenous leaders will present the signed Redfern Statement and discuss priority steps they say must be taken to reset the relationship.

They are calling for the establishment of:

  • a senior Cabinet minister with overall responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; and
  • a Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

“A national summit will establish the overarching framework for how governments and Australia’s First Peoples work together to solve the critical challenges we face together,” the group said in a statement.

“Following a national summit and after beginning the series of meetings with the prime minister and relevant ministers, an ongoing plan for engagement at all levels will be agreed.

“We look forward to the 45th Parliament becoming the basis for relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all governments.”

Koori Mail

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