The first meeting of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council was held in Canberra yesterday.

Chaired by Warren Mundine, the 12 Council members bring a broad range of views and experience to the table.

Terms of Reference for the Council were also released with an emphasis on practical advice on policies and programmes that could improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.


While the Council’s remit is broad, I have asked Council members to focus on improving school attendance and educational attainment, creating lasting employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the real economy, and empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Council will meet three times a year with the Prime Minister and relevant ministers and the Chairman will meet once a month with myself, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Hon Alan Tudge MP.

I look forward to working with the Council to ensure we focus on positive actions to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Colleagues, it is a real honour for me to be here for the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

I am really thrilled to have assembled such a group.

I am delighted to have such a strong Ministerial team in this area.

I am thrilled to have Ken Wyatt as part of my parliamentary team, but I really am determined, as I know each one of you is determined, to make a difference, not just to the symbolism, not just to the funding but to the practical outcomes on the ground for Aboriginal people.

I want to really thank every one of you for joining this council, because not only will we do the right thing by the indigenous people of Australia, but we will do the right thing by all Australians because indigenous disadvantage, indigenous alienation is not just a problem for indigenous people; it is a problem for our country. We all know that we will never be truly whole as a nation until these issues are better addressed in the future than they have been in the past.

That is not to deprecate the good will; it’s not to deprecate the good sense of many of our predecessors. But while there has been some symbolic change, while there has been – at least in recent times – an abundance of good will and much, much money we haven’t yet got with the practical changes on the ground that we need if Aboriginal people are truly to be first class Australians, and first class people in their own country – and that’s the objective

Now, Warren and I have been working together and occasionally knocking our heads together for some years now. There are other people around this table like Peter Shergold and Richie Ah Mat, who I go back a long way with.

I think we’re going to do a really, really good job. I am confident that we really can make a difference and so let’s start.

Let it not be said in three years’ time that this was just another talk fest. Let people be able to say in three years’ time that practical change is happening, and it’s happening because of the conversations, because of the discussions, and yes, occasionally because of the disputes that we will have around this table and resolve satisfactorily to the benefit of our nation.


Thanks Prime Minister. Look, we’re very honoured. We know your own personal commitment to this area. You are very strong and it’s great to have a Prime Minister – and this is no criticism of the previous Prime Minister – who was actually raised in our meeting earlier, that every Prime Minister in our lifetime has left office and they have always said that one of the saddest things is they didn’t do enough in this area.

So, having you from day one, to have this commitment to indigenous people and the Australian nation it is really great to have you on board.

I’m honoured that you chose me to lead this incredible group. You have assembled an amazing group of people and we’re up for the challenge; we’re up for the battle.

It is an enormous task but it’s an achievable task and you can believe that we can lay the foundations, some very good foundations and very good structures in place to deliver in this next three year period.

The Council’s Terms of Reference are attached.

5 December 2013

Terms of Reference


1.The Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (the ‘Council’) will provide advice to the Government on Indigenous affairs, and will focus on practical changes to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


2.The Council will provide ongoing advice to the Government on emerging policy and implementation issues related to Indigenous affairs including, but not limited to:

a. improving school attendance and educational attainment

b. creating lasting employment opportunities in the real economy

c. reviewing land ownership and other drivers of economic development

d. preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures

e. building reconciliation and creating a new partnership between black and white Australians

f. empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including through more flexible and outcome-focussed programme design and delivery

g. building the capacity of communities, service providers and governments

h. promoting better evaluation to inform government decision-making

i. supporting greater shared responsibility and reducing dependence on government within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

j. achieving constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

3.The Council will engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including existing Indigenous advocacy bodies, to ensure that the Government has access to a diversity of views. The Council will also engage with other individuals and organisations, as relevant to the Government’s agenda.

4.The Government may request the Council to provide advice on specific policy and programme effectiveness, to help ensure that Indigenous programmes achieve real, positive change in the lives of Aboriginal people.

5.The Council will report annually to the Government on its activities, via letter to the Prime Minister.


6.The Council will have up to 12 members, including a Chair and Deputy Chair. Members will be both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

7.The Chair will be a part-time paid position. Other members will be paid sitting fees and costs related to meeting attendance.

8.Membership will be for a term of up to three years, subject to an annual review of membership by the Prime Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

9.Members will have a strong understanding of Indigenous culture and bring a diversity of expertise in economic development and business acumen, employment, education, youth participation, service delivery and health.

10.The membership will include representation from both the private, public and civil society sectors and be drawn from across Australia, with at least one representative from a remote area.

11.New members will be appointed by the Prime Minister following consultation with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.


12.The Council will meet three times annually with the Prime Minister and relevant senior ministers. One meeting will be held in Canberra, with the location of other meetings to be determined by the Council to support a shared understanding of the issues impacting upon Indigenous communities around Australia.

13.The deliberation of the Council will be confidential, but the Council may choose to issue a statement after its meetings.

14.In addition to minister-level meetings, the Council may decide to meet up to an additional three times per year.

15.The Chair of the Council will have monthly meetings with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

16.The quorum for Council meetings will be at least six members, including the Chair or Deputy Chair.

17.The Council may also convene working groups as necessary, to consider particular issues in depth and report back to the full Council. These working groups may consult external experts in the field to inform their deliberations. Unless otherwise agreed by Government, working groups will meet on a non-remunerated basis.

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