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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 4 April 2017

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 4 April 2017

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Tuesday, 04 April 2017

Indigenous Advisory Council

Today, the new members of the Indigenous Advisory Council met formally for the first time with the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, and Ministers from the Indigenous Policy Committee, a sub-committee of Cabinet.

Members of the Council are:

  • Professor Chris Sarra, University of Canberra
  • Ms Andrea Mason, Chief Executive Officer, NPY Women’s Council
  • Professor Ngiare Brown, Founding Director, Ngaoara (child and adolescent wellbeing)
  • Ms Susan Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation
  • Cr Roy Ah-See, Chairperson, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council
  • Mr Djambawa Marawili AM, traditional owner from Baniyala.

Members and Ministers described the meeting as “historic” and was a demonstration of the positive way that the Australian Government intends to reset the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and build a relationship based on trust. There was significant enthusiasm expressed to celebrate success and develop paths to real opportunities, while acknowledging the complexity of challenges that remain to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

There was a two way sharing of the way that the Council will work with Government recognising the valuable contribution that members can provide to inform policy development and delivery, and the strong background members have living cross-culturally every day.

Council members spoke of the importance for Government to continue to engage more broadly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and acknowledged that Government is continuing its engagement with the National Congress of First Peoples and the Redfern Alliance and other Indigenous peak bodies.

Council members welcomed the first meeting with Government as a critical step in what will be a significant year in Indigenous affairs, supporting the refresh of Closing the Gap and significant events including the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision and 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.

Members acknowledged the Prime Minister demonstrated he values the importance of and need for change to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians through his announcements of the Closing the Gap Refresh, introduction of an Indigenous Productivity Commissioner and the Indigenous Research Fund.

The Council reiterated to Government genuine partnership and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be critical to ensure policies coming forward to Government are driven and supported by aspirations and needs of local communities.

Council acknowledged the important and positive step that the Australian Government has made in ensuring there is a shared responsibility across Government through the establishment of the Indigenous Policy Committee.  Members identified this as a key vehicle to improve the way in which governments can work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and encourage all state and territory governments who do not yet have such arrangements within their respective Cabinets to consider doing so.

The Council discussed its role in the Closing the Gap refresh, and acknowledged the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander input and collaboration in the broader agenda to ensure meaningful and transformative change on the ground. Members welcomed the commitment that state and territory governments have made to continue collaborative efforts to close the gap, and to refreshing the Closing the Gap approach.

Importantly, members expressed a strong desire for a greater emphasis on strengths rather than deficits and discussed the need for pure policy execution with high expectations, to shift from "surviving to compliance" to "surviving to thriving".

The Council has self-appointed Ms Andrea Mason and Professor Chris Sarra as the Co-Chairs of the Council, to guide day to day business and facilitation of meetings, noting all members have significant contribution to the group.

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.