The Guardian June 13, 2001


WA's Aboriginal groups unite

Western Australia's main Aboriginal organisations have announced the 
formation of a single lobbying group to negotiate with the State Government 
on its delivery of services to Indigenous people.

The consultative group is the first of its kind in Australia and is 
expected to lead the way for other States. It will lobby and advise the 
State Government on issues concerning Indigenous people and also develop 
policy.

The decision was made at a recent meeting of Indigenous representative 
groups entitled, "Beyond the Rhetoric: Negotiating Real Outcomes", and was 
agreed to by a unanimous vote from the four major representative bodies: 
the ATSIC State Council, the Western Australian Aboriginal Community 
Controlled Health Organisation (WAACCHO), the Western Australian Aboriginal 
Native Title Working Group (WAANTWG) and the Aboriginal Legal Service of 
Western Australia (ALSWA).

Speaking on behalf of the peak body representatives, ATSIC State Policy and 
Advocacy Group manager, Mick Gooda, said the landmark announcement 
represented a more streamlined approach to negotiations between the 
Indigenous community and State Government.

"In the past, multiple Indigenous organisations have held meetings with 
State Government regarding their community needs", he said.

"A peak body representing the interests of all Indigenous organisations 
means that we will speak with a single, powerful voice in expressing the 
desired targets for Indigenous people in key areas such as health, 
employment, housing and education.

"A peak body will also mean that Indigenous groups reach consensus before 
joining State Government negotiations."

Mr Gooda said the move also reduced existing administrative levels and, as 
a result, represented enormous cost and time benefit to State Government.

"The organisations making up the peak body will work in a consultative 
fashion with our people. We invite Indigenous members of the community to 
approach ATSIC, the ALS, WAACHO or WAANTWG on matters of concern to them, 
at any time. This information will feed into the newly-formed peak body and 
its negotiations with State Government", he said.

"The decision marks a new era in the campaign for racial equality in 
Australia. Although our fields of specialty are different, our goal is the 
same  to improve our people's lives. It's a more efficient and logical 
approach."

The first priority of the peak body will be establishing a framework 
agreement to set clear guidelines s government policy arrangements.

* * *
Acknowledgements: ATSIC

Back to index page