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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 22-23 August 2018

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 22-23 August 2018

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council

Members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council met in Canberra on 22-23 August 2018 and welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs to discuss a number of priority matters and considerations for Government.

The Council considered a range of matters over the two days, including the following:

The Council reflected on the Yothu Yindi Foundation’s Garma Festival held earlier this month and its theme of Yuwalk Lakaranga – truth telling. The Council noted that Government sent the first whole of government delegation (representing 14 Commonwealth departments and statutory authorities) to Garma. This provided a unique opportunity to discuss policy and implementation issues with a range of stakeholders and with each other. The Council reflected that Garma highlighted the need for self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at the local, regional and national levels.

The Council noted the recent opening of the Western Sydney Business and Employment Hub. Council agreed the importance of employment and business development as an effective pathway to self-determination. The Council views the establishment of additional hubs in regional areas as important to assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians gain meaningful and sustainable employment and providing opportunities for business development.  

Council discussed Constitutional recognition and the interim report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The discussion included a focus on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Constitution and treaty. The Council developed a deeper understanding of Makaratta as both a concept and an institution in the Yolngu culture. The Council agreed that a Makaratta provides the opportunity to create a pathway towards true reconciliation and cultural and economic prosperity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Professor Ngiare Brown provided the Council with an update on her recent trip to Tennant Creek with the former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, and the then Minister for Social Services, the Hon Dan Teehan MP. The Council recognised the need for a flexible and holistic approach to supporting vulnerable communities, the importance of a continuum of coordinated care that delivers early intervention and prevention services to families, as well as addressing critical issues as they arise. For these services to be effective they must embed child centric policies and practice in the heart of any approach. The lack of coordination of service delivery and the current restrictions on information sharing between services was identified as a common barrier to providing effective support to families in need.

In the Council’s discussion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the National Disability Insurance Agency it was agreed that more work is required to ensure the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with a disability are recognised under the NDIS, especially in remote communities. The Council agreed to invite key representatives from government and non-government organisations to attend the next Council meeting to discuss these issues and work together to co-design a workshop to facilitate the development of considered advice to Government on the roll out of the NDIS.

Professor Ngiare Brown led a discussion on the long-term effects of childhood trauma on emotional and physical health. This focused on the importance of developing a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy for early childhood development and education. The Council agreed this process should include identifying existing policies across the states and territories and examining ways in which these can be harmonised.

The Council discussed the Women’s Economic Security Statement and the consultations that the Commonwealth led to inform the Statement. Council noted that women have lower workforce participation than men and that the Statement aims to improve economic security for women in Australia. The Council resolved that there is a pressing need for addressing the issues affecting lower participation rates by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This included recognition that services for individuals and families currently do not reflect the roles of men and women in Indigenous culture and that the proposed Package includes little support for young men and fathers.

The Department of Jobs and Small Business met with the Council to discuss the current Employment Services Reform process. The discussion focused on ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers, and particularly young people, do not fall through any cracks in the employment services system and are supported to gain meaningful employment. The Council agreed to the Department’s request for further advice and this will be included in the Council’s out-of-session work.

In the final session, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provided Council an update in the Closing the Gap Refresh. Council agreed that it is important that the process is finalised soon, includes meaningful targets and the importance of State-based targets. Council noted the need to address intergenerational trauma and strengthening culture in any new approach to creating a partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.