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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 15-16 August 2017

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 15-16 August 2017

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

A meeting of the IAC with five people present at a desk.

The members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council met in Canberra on 15-16 August 2017.

Members welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the Minister for Social Services and departments, and informally with Ministers Joyce and Wyatt and with Senator Dodson. Issues discussed included:

  • Constitutional Reform: emphasising the importance of taking time to get the next steps.
  • National Engagement: highlighting the importance of engagement across Government to ensure mainstream services meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander needs, and the importance of a strong ongoing engagement between the Council, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and the Redfern Alliance.
  • Cashless Debit Card (CDC): Acknowledged the importance of evidence, community consultation and co-design in implementation of the CDC where communities requested it and welcomed the opportunity to test alternative strengths-based models for addressing social issues in communities. A clear communication strategy explaining the difference between the Basics Card, CDC and income management was proposed to assist with community understanding.
  • Framework for Policy Advice: Members agreed a working framework for the Council comprising four overarching themes to guide Council advice:
    • Resetting the relationship
    • Using strengths based approaches
    • Embracing and enabling local leadership and decision-making
    • Better lines of accountability for expenditure and decision-making in Indigenous Affairs and more broadly
    • An explanation of each will be released on the Council’s website. Members emphasised the importance of shifting from a deficit to a strengths-based approach.
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): Welcomed the update on implementation and noted funding available to build capability of organisations to deliver services under the scheme. Outcomes of a roundtable hosted by the Council on 10 August 2017 on the opportunities for training, employment and business associated with the rollout of the NDIS in remote Australia was also provided, including the proposed establishment of an Advisory Group sponsored by the First Peoples Disability Network.
  • Community Development Program (CDP): Emphasised the importance of drawing on the learnings of previous CDP “like” programs to inform future approaches. Suggested detailed needs mapping could inform business opportunities in community and recognition of work already being undertaken by community leaders. Consideration of possible interactions between the welfare system and business opportunities is needed to ensure Indigenous micro enterprises are not undermined.
  • Indigenous Housing: Acknowledged reductions in overcrowding as a result of investment over the past 10 years. Discussed the importance of ongoing investment in Indigenous Housing and the engagement and commitment from states and territories to address new housing, refurbishments, maintenance and tenancy management matters. The importance of engagement of the local community in housing design, decision making and developing sustainable employment and business opportunities was also raised. Members emphasised the importance of adequate remote housing as a pre-requisite for social outcomes.
  • Ministerial Forum on Development in the North: The importance of engaging with Indigenous leaders and organisations in the north was emphasised. The opportunity this provides to develop education pathways and pipelines to employment and Indigenous business both nationally and internationally was also noted.
  • Education: Work to resolve complexities of ABSTUDY, and work to improve supports for students studying away from home were acknowledged. Further efforts being considered to improve engagement and connection between students living away from home, their families and schools, were also noted. Members emphasised the importance of a strengths-based approach to providing positive educational pathways for children, agreeing that to aspire to greatness, each stage and transition must be safe, supported, with family and community systems, education and strength of culture.
  • Social and Cultural Determinants of Health: Welcomed the update on the key themes from consultations. Noted the importance of understanding that all areas impact on the social, cultural and economic determinants of health. Members indicated health’s evidence informed decision making could inform approaches in Indigenous Affairs. Members acknowledged land as one of a number of key elements of cultural determinants of health.
  • Closing the Gap: Welcomed COAG’s decision of 9 June 2017 to ‘… refresh the Closing the Gap agenda, focussing on a strength-based approach that supports Indigenous advancement, working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’ Members provided advice on the Closing the Gap refresh stressing the importance of meaningful and ongoing engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, experts and communities. Members will be involved throughout the consultation phase.
  • Indigenous Land Council Consultation: Acknowledged consultation being undertaken on possible reforms to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (ATSI Act) regarding water related activities and the financial sustainability of the Land Account to inform any potential reforms to be considered by Government.
  • Economic development: Importance of building business acumen within organisations and across sectors to take advantage of emerging opportunities was emphasised. The importance of support for Indigenous women in business and seeding a culture of entrepreneurship in Indigenous youth were also raised.
  • Events: Attended a range of significant events including National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC, Garma Festival and International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Welcomed acknowledgement of 65,000 years of Indigenous culture revealed through new excavations of a rock shelter near Kakadu National Park.

The Council is supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and is the first point of contact: Media interviews with members can be arranged through the Secretariat.