Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, August 2014

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, August 2014

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the Council) met in Canberra on 28 August 2014. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, attended the meeting.

Council discussed in detail some of the recommendations of Creating Parity – The Forrest Review and agreed to continue this work through the Working Group on Employment and Economic Development. The Council is playing a key role in guiding the Forrest Review consultation process and supporting the Forrest Review Implementation Feasibility Taskforce. Council emphasised the importance of disseminating and communicating the review’s key findings in a way that people can readily understand and suggested the distribution of a short summary in plain English to assist this. Council is keen to see the feedback from the consultations and will provide advice progressively to the Government.

Council received a briefing on progress of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System from the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP, and Mr Patrick McClure AO, Chair of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform. Members noted the links between many aspects raised in the McClure and the Forrest reviews and discussed the challenges and opportunities these reviews present for improving the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. Council reiterated its views that education is essential and that creating employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians must be key. Council also emphasised that these outcomes can only be achieved in communities which are safe.

Council welcomed the presentation from the Constitutional Recognition Review Panel on steps that can be taken to achieve a successful referendum. Members reiterated their strong support for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the need to keep attention on this important issue and on efforts to raise awareness. The Review Panel welcomed the Council’s intention to provide ongoing advice on how best to build public support and awareness to ensure a successful outcome in this important and historic area.

Members noted the progress on implementing the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, and the opening of the grants selection process in September. The new streamlined funding approach should see an enormous reduction in red tape and complexity. Ongoing focus and improvement will be required to ensure that it delivers improved outcomes for communities and individuals. Council stressed the importance of involving local communities in designing solutions that are flexible and meet local needs.

Council was very interested to hear more about the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation, acknowledging that Indigenous Affairs will be an important cross-cutting issue throughout the White Paper process.

The Council will next meet with the Prime Minister in North East Arnhem Land on 17 September 2014.

The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council is a directly appointed, non-representative group which provides advice to the Prime Minister on Indigenous issues.