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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 13 February 2019

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 13 February 2019

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Monday, 04 March 2019

National Indigenous Australians Agency

Members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the Council) met in Canberra on 13 February 2019 and welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, to discuss a number of priority matters and considerations for Government.

The Council acknowledged the 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and that the United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness of the crucial role languages play in people’s daily lives.

The Council met with the Prime Minister ahead of his Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament on 14 February 2019. The Council noted that while much progress has been made over the past decade, only two of the seven ambitious targets are on track. Different ways of working are required in order to close the gap. The Council agreed that genuine partnerships are more effective than a top-down approach and acknowledged that the Government has adopted a more collaborative approach to the Closing the Gap Refresh.

The Council received an update on the Closing the Gap refresh following the historic decision by the Council of Australian Governments in December 2018 to establish a formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to finalise the Closing the Gap framework and targets. The Council heard from the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations and supported its work to ensure Indigenous representation is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled and will form a key part of a tri-partite partnerhip to further efforts to close the gap. The Council also supports the establishment of a Joint Council on Closing the Gap which would include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership in partnerhip with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

The Council also discussed the Final Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (JSCCR) that was presented to government on 29 November 2019. The Council noted that the Government is currently preparing its response to the final report. The Council agreed to continue working with the Prime Minister on this important issue.

The Prime Minister reiterated the importance of the advice the Government receives from the Council to enhance the design and delivery of programs and services to better meet the needs of Indigenous Australians on the ground.

The Council welcomed the Prime Minister’s attendance at a dusk ceremony held on the evening of 25 January 2018, and acknowledged the Prime Minister’s commitment to shaping a more inclusive Australia Day – a time to reflect on our shared histories as Australians and acknowledge the world’s oldest living culture of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, while rededicating ourselves to Australia’s future and celebrating what makes Australia great.

The Council met with senior officers from the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and discussed how the Council can best engage with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the support the Council can provide to DSS and the NDIA to help improve services under the NDIS for Indigenous Australians. The Council welcomed advice from the NDIA that it is working to develop a better understanding of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and how this impacts on Indigenous participants, providers and communities.   

The Council discussed the leadership within and opportunities available in remote Indigenous homelands. The Council acknowledged the positive impact of locally-driven development on long-term outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living on homelands. The Council agreed to continue exploring opportunities to promote opportunities and imporved agency for homelands communities.

The Council acknowledged the Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ recent announcement that he would not be re-contesting his seat at the next Federal Election. The Council congratulated the Minister on his retirement and acknowledged his unwavering dedication to Indigenous Affairs.