Suggestions for a New Arrangement in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Please find attached the proposal Suggestions to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott for a New Arrangement in Aboriginal Affairs written by Co-Chair Indigenous People’s Organisation (IPO) Network of Australia Ms Dea Thiele MPH.
Picture above Dea Theale at the Alta global indigenous preparatory conference for the world conference on indigenous peoples 2014,
This proposal on election eve is provided to NACCHO members and stakeholders for information and discussion and is not endorsed by NACCHO.
We welcome debate and invite you to leave your suggestions comments or feedback below
In respect to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples, to close the gaps in life expectancy, infant mortality rates and other continuing markers of disadvantage, the Federal Government needs a new arrangement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.
While it is noted that ATSIC was of concern to the government of the day, there was not, as the ATSIC review clearly articulated, the need to dismantle the organisation. Political will is needed to allow Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples to be socially and politically included into all aspects of the Australian system that impinge on their health, wellbeing and economic development.
Given the range of social determinants that impact on the health, spiritual, social, emotional and environmental wellbeing, including the economic development of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ATSIC, could not be held responsible for the disparities between Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians. It is a shared responsibility between Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Government and non-government sectors, which requires long term commitment and resources commensurate with need.
It is widely known and acknowledged that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples are the most disadvantaged population group in Australia. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Bill 2004 abolished ATSIC, and to dismantle the national body without due planning, consideration, consultation and negotiation with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples has left a huge gap in transparency, monitoring and accountability of all programs that impact on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The right to self-determining structures is clearly supported and articulated by a number of United Nations international treaties, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Serious and effective engagement means we need a nationally elected Aboriginal Authority/Commission or a similar structure that is underpinned by a legislative framework that is based on the principle of self-determination that will fully discharge a broad range of functions efficiently and transparently for the benefit of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People being held accountable for the administration of such a body.
Failure to include and effectively engage the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population and organisational representatives from the beginning and right throughout the policy process risks the development of inappropriately targeted and ill-conceived policy and at worst, may be inappropriate, unhelpful, unsustainable and ineffective for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS Self Determination in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs
1. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples have an inalienable right to a nationally elected self-determining organisation that fully discharges the widest range of functions efficiently and transparently for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It follows the need for a new arrangement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.
2. Real and effective consultation in partnership with Aboriginal communities must inform the entire process of development of a broad based nationally elected Aboriginal self-determining organisation. Aboriginal communities could be represented by their existing bodies in health, land, law and childrens’ services.
These organisations and individuals could nominate others where any additional expertise might be needed. This national structure could stand in the position of the board of commissioners in order to ensure that service delivery to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples is governed by self-determining rather than government controlled processes.
Dea is available for comment and interview on +61 448 123 444.
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