Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 6-7 December 2018

Meeting Communiqué Indigenous Advisory Council: 6-7 December 2018

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Friday, 25 January 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council met in Canberra on 6‑7 December 2018 and welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, to discuss a number of priority matters and considerations for Government. The meeting was the final full Council meeting for 2018.

The Council began the meeting by acknowledging the passing of Dr Ernestine ‘Bonita’ Mabo AO and reflected on the significant contribution she made to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

In preparation for the delivery of their 2018 Annual Report to the Prime Minister, the Council reviewed it’s operation in 2018 and reflected on the breadth of advice provided to Government on significant policy issues including the work of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and the refresh of the Closing the Gap framework which has focussed and challenged all governments and stakeholders on the opportunity to improvbe outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians over the next ten years and beyond.

The Council also noted that there is still more to be done and agreed an ambitious agenda for 2019 which includes a focus on:

  • Raising awareness of the Indigenous Governance Operating Rhythm. It is anticipated that this project will create a handbook for improving engagement between governments, the public service and Indigenous Australians;
  • Improvements to the National Disability Insurance Scheme so it better meets the needs of Indigenous Australians;
  • Providing advice on approaches to “Keeping Australians Together”, including advancing options for a more inclusive Australia Day and the potential for a national day of recognition, a national resting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors repatriated remains and recognition of First Peoples place in modern Australia;
  • Responding to Communities in Distress – Council has committed to developing a protocol to inform Government’s response to Communities in Distress;
  • Creating an Early Childhood Framework forcused on the first 2,000 days of life;
  • Ensuring that Jobactive 2020 works for Indigenous jobseekers; and
  • Providing advice to inform the Commonwealth’s response to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2018.

The Council received an update from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the Community Development Program Reforms and the Closing the Gap Refresh. The Council noted the importance of ensuring that the Community Development Program Reforms make the program work well for Indigenous Australians and are fair. It was agreed that the reforms should ensure that the program recognises Indigenous culture and leadership.

The Council welcomed the Prime Minister’s meeting with peak Indigenous organisations on the issues these organisations raised with the Closing the Gap Refresh. Council’s view is that the refresh offers an opportunity for all governments to work in partnership with Indigenous Australians so the changes help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live healthier, happier and more productive lives. The reforms also must ensure that all levels of government are accountable.

Providing advice on the development of a national Early Childhood Framework is a key task for Council in 2019. Member Ngiare Brown is Council’s lead on this project and provided an update on progress. Issues to be addressed in the framework include ensuring that there is a multidisciplinary approach to supporting children and their families that recognises the importance of Indigenous cultures. The project has the strong support of the Prime Minister and Minister Scullion.  

The Council discussed the Final Report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The Council expressed support for all the recommendations and the timeframe of finalising the Government’s response in the 46th Parliament and agreed to provide advice to the Prime Minister on options for implementing the full suite of recommendations.

The Prime Minister also asked the Council to consider ways for Australia Day to be more inclusive and to better recognise the contribution of Indigenous Australians and their 60,000 year history on the continent. Council agreed Australia Day should bring all Australians together and show respect for the many cultures that now make up our nation and the special place held by First Peoples.

The Council received a presentation from the Healing Foundation on its achievements and plans for the future, including responding to the critical needs of members of the Stolen Generations. The Council also met with senior representatives from the Department of Social Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency to discuss opportunities to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).