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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2020 in Review

2020 in Review

Thursday, 24 December 2020

National Indigenous Australians Agency

As 2020 draws to a close, the National Indigenous Australians Agency is able to look back at the year with pride, having met the challenges while making substantive progress on a number of policy fronts.

The impacts of unprecedented bushfires followed quickly by the COVID-19 pandemic have changed every government agency’s focus. For NIAA, a concerted effort by all staff has contributed to a broader team effort that has limited the health and non-health impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

COVID-19 has, of course, dominated the agenda and more than 600 NIAA staff pivoted to manage the consequences of the pandemic. This included seconding 82 staff to other Departments to support the broader APS surge effort and address the immediate calls for assistance.

We undertook a coordination role in facilitating the introduction and subsequent removal of remote travel restrictions, which included working with states and territories, and across Commonwealth agencies, to support the safe return of boarding students to remote communities at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We established a remote food security working group, bringing together key parties in the remote retail and supply chain sectors to rapidly address issues impacting food security in remote communities.

And we worked closely with all of our more than 1150 funded organisations delivering just over 2,000 activities to adjust payment schedules and apply flexible arrangements. This ensured they remained viable, were supported to continue their service delivery where it was safe to do so, and were prepared to resume services when local restrictions allowed.

NIAA also made progress on a number of nationally significant government initiatives.

Working with State and Territory Governments, the Australian Local Government Association, and the more than 50 members of the Coalition of Indigenous Peak Organisations, we delivered the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It is the first national agreement negotiated in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

We’ve also supported the groups co-designing options for an Indigenous Voice with Stage 1 of the design process completing in late October.

We supported Minister Wyatt’s statement to the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council and held the first round of Indigenous policy information sharing sessions with our New Zealand counterparts as part of the Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement.

We assisted the National NAIDOC Committee in managing the National NAIDOC week celebrations in a period of COVID-19 uncertainty and the management of approximately 600 NAIDOC grants to support local communities celebrate NAIDOC Week.

These are just some of the ways NIAA supported Indigenous Australians over the course of this year.

NIAA is grateful to its staff and stakeholders who worked tirelessly through a time of uncertainty to help improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We wish all Australians happy holidays and a peaceful and prosperous new year.