Indigenous community calls for full involvement in government decision making
24 June 2020 at 5:04 pm
Findings have emerged from a “ground-breaking and historic” engagement with Indigenous Australians
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people overwhelmingly support a push to fundamentally change the way Australian governments work with the Indigenous community, a new report shows.
The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) have recently led a comprehensive community engagement process, as development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap gets underway.
Nearly 1,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people responded to an online survey, while more than 2,300 people attended over 70 face-to-face meetings held across the country between September and December last year.
The primary focus of the engagements was to solicit views on three proposed reforms to change the way Australian governments work with the Indigenous community:
- To develop and strengthen structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in shared decision making, embedding their ownership, responsibility, and expertise to Close the Gap.
- To build formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service sectors to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs.
- To ensure all mainstream government agencies and institutions that service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the Gap.
These reforms were overwhelmingly supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaged in the consultation.
Another key finding that emerged was that new Closing the Gap targets were needed, including the preservation of culture and languages, while existing targets needed to be further developed, such as expanding health targets to include mental health.
Based on these engagements, the Coalition of Peaks and Australian governments are negotiating the new national agreement, which is expected to be finalised and made public by the end of July.
Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks, welcomed the findings.
“This community engagement report highlights the conviction of the Coalition of Peaks that, if Australia is to truly Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, there needs to be a new way of working established between us and governments,” Turner said.
“Engagement processes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like this one rarely take place in Australia.
“I am proud to say the engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks in partnership with Australian governments, implemented this ground-breaking and historic approach.”