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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 27-28 June 2018

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 27-28 June 2018

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council met in Canberra on 27-28 June 2018 and welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs to discuss a number of priority matters and considerations for Government.  These included the importance of working in a way that enables a place based approach with decisions being made at a local level, the critical need to work with communities to ensure that children are safe and supported to thrive, and the role of cultural leadership and authority in maximising strengths within communities and activating change where required. These priorities were explored within the framework that the Council has established to guide policy advice, including strengths based approaches, strengthening relationships, enabling local leadership and decision making and accountability.

Further details of issues discussed follows.

Council considered its evolving relationship with the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet (IPC), and the opportunity this relatively new initiative presents to continue to strengthen the partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the Commonwealth Government. Council recognises the importance and value working with Ministers across mainstream portfolios to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Council discussed the Joint Select Committee process and Constitutional Recognition. There was broad agreement that effective Constitutional Recognition will involve learning from the representative structures that work now and ensuring that any Constitutional change will benefit all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Council agreed that ensuring safe, stable and secure remote Indigenous housing is a building block for healthier individuals, families and communities. Members spoke to Government on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Australians and their organisations being supported to take control of their land and housing assets and in working with state and territory governments to take responsibility for identifying and meeting current and future housing need. They also discussed the economic development opportunities offered from housing, especially with regards to employment and business opportunities.

Professor Ngiare Brown presented to Council on her experience providing specialist outreach and integrated care to children affected by trauma and with complex comorbidities through her not-for-profit organisation, Ngaoara Ltd. Child and Adolescent Wellbeing. Professor Brown spoke to Council about her experience supporting communities to develop initiatives focused on breaking intergenerational cycles of trauma and disparity.

Dr Joe Tucci, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Childhood Foundation, presented to Council his experience working with communities in the NPY Lands to develop a model to strengthen community capacity to end violence, initially trialled in NPY Women’s Council’s family violence service. Council noted the complexities involved in preventing violence in communities, and acknowledged the importance of developing child centric approaches to policy development and trauma-informed responses.

The Council discussed the impact of trauma on communities and acknowledged the rights of children to live in a safe community. Council recognised that effective community responses must be built upon local leadership and through the appropriate cultural authority, with discussion including the re-establishment of the Cultural Authority Group in Tennant Creek, and resolved to support the Government to develop and implement sustainable longer term approaches in partnership with local communities and jurisdictions.

Council welcomed the opportunity and affirmed the value of Professor Ngiare Brown accompanying Ministers Scullion and Tehan to Tennant Creek in the week commencing 2 July 2018, to provide expert advice on behalf of the Council.

The Council acknowledged the Commonwealth’s extensive consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to inform the Closing the Gap Refresh. Council agreed to continue working with the Department on the approach to develop a balanced set of measures, indicators and strategies to support the refresh of the Closing the Gap targets. The Council agreed the importance of Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are consulted on the development of implementation plans to support effective service delivery and accountability.

The Acting Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations provided the Council with an overview of the work of the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). Council agreed to provide the Registrar with regular feedback on ORIC’s annual plans and strategic direction to ensure that ORIC’s work provides the greatest possible benefits for corporations and communities.

The Council discussed the support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students that undertake training or university studies by distance. Council noted that distance learning was important to Indigenous Australians in regional and remote areas and that the delivery of training and university has changed considerably since current programs were designed. Consideration should be given to the role technology now plays in education together with the concept of lifelong learning. Council agreed to work with relevant Departments and provide advice to better support Indigenous tertiary students that study by distance.

Council accepted Professor Chris Sarra’s resignation, due to his appointment to the role of Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. Council. The Prime Minister and former Minister Scullion wished Professor Chris Sarra all the best in his new role and thanked him for his significant contribution.

Council and the Prime Minister agreed that Roy Ah-See will be appointed to the position of Co-Chair. The Prime Minister welcomed the appointment of Councillor Ah-See, who is also Chair of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council and a director of Indigenous Business Australia, to lead the Council, in partnership with existing Co-Chair Andrea Mason OAM. Former Minister Scullion acknowledged the leadership of Councillor Ah-See and his achievements in delivering better outcomes for Aboriginal communities across NSW especially in relation to land rights and economic development.