Indigenous Leaders Call For Post Election Summit
2 June 2016 at 8:45 am
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have called on the government that takes office after the federal election to convene a national summit on Indigenous issues, establish a Truth and Justice Commission and deliver an Indigenous treaty.
Indigenous leaders from across the country gathered in Canberra on Tuesday to discuss some of the key issues of concern that are impacting on their people in this current climate.
The gathering delivered a united call for government to put reducing injustice, poverty and inequality for First Peoples at the heart of its purpose and to establish a real and meaningful relationship with First Peoples.
Co-chair of the meeting, Geoff Clark said “the combative relationship, the meanness of spirit and the paternal practices and policies which underpin the current relationship” must end if Australia is to make progress.
“We are calling for a new era and new beginning where respect truth and goodwill are the traits which define the relationships across the country,” Clark said.
“The new way must include recognition of our rights and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but it must also commence a process for negotiated agreements, treaties, to seek an enduring settlement of the outstanding issues which confront us all, the unfinished business.
“To clean up the past we need to have a Truth and Justice Commission, and a treaty that would benefit all Australians.”
Fellow co-chair Jackie Huggins said they were calling for a fresh start.
“We now exist in an environment which must change, we are calling for a fresh start which acknowledges the current realities but establishes a cooperative working relationship which puts the wellbeing of people at its centre,” Huggins said.
“A national summit must be called to establish a place and time for all to come together, where blame and recriminations are put aside. A place where we begin to work together, we owe this to our kids, and to the people who are unable to speak.
“At present there is no discernible policy framework which drives and gives direction and purpose. The efforts of many people, organisations, agencies and governments are not resulting in the positive changes that are needed.
“The new way we are seeking is based on establishing a regional planning approach, where First Peoples are involved in the decision making which affects their lives. A rigorous, planning, assessment and policy framework focussed on identifying the issues and solutions required to progress the challenges at a regional level.”
The Canberra forum supported continued discussions regarding suitable amendments to the Australian Constitution for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the establishment of a national First Nations representative structure, a national framework for the entry into treaties between First Nations, the heads of state, federal government and state and territory governments and the establishment of a National Treaty Working Group to communicate with government and begin negotiations towards a treaty process agreement.