Labor welcomes today’s report by Oxfam, Moving beyond recognition: respecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
This report details the many challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the shortcomings of current policy approaches, and opportunities for positive change. Labor will carefully study its findings and recommendations.
The Government is not delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s approach is defined by savage cuts to services, a loss of local control, a failure to listen to Indigenous voices, and policy-making which is paternalistic and overly bureaucratic.
This report, like those before it, is particularly damning of the Government’s botched Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which has been a total disaster from the very beginning.
Not only did the Government rip more than $500 million from the Indigenous Affairs budget, the entire process has been completely shambolic, leading to widespread confusion amongst local organisations.
It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to listen and lead.
He should start listening to the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about what is working and what isn’t. He must start leading by finally addressing his government’s failures, and changing his approach.
Mr Tunbull must visit communities and see with his own eyes the problems his policies have caused before he can begin to reset the relationship.
As some first steps, the Prime Minister should also:
- Rip up the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and replace it with something that respects local voices, gives more control to communities and Indigenous controlled organisations, and prioritises evidence-based outcomes;
- Respect the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – our independent, elected, national Indigenous representative body – and resource it properly;
- Acknowledge the Indigenous incarceration crisis and commit to national justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework; and
- Reverse the Government’s cuts to the Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and Community Legal Centres.
Labor is ready to work alongside the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and with the Turnbull Government to build a stable policy outlook and improve outcomes in communities.
WEDNESDAY, 12 APRIL 2017