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.

NACCHO political news: Tony Abbott PM says Australia can have an Aboriginal Prime Minister one day

44th Parliament

Prime Minister Tony Abbott address at the Welcome to Country Ceremony, Parliament House

And response from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Welcome To Country – Response


Prime Minister Tony Abbott

This Parliament always has great work to do: to secure our borders, to balance our budget, to strengthen our economy, to the relief of families and for the protection of jobs.

But if we are to do great things, we must begin them well. We must begin them well.

We must acknowledge the extended family of the Australian nation.

We must acknowledge and celebrate the essential unity of the Australian people.

It’s Noel Pearson, a great indigenous leader and a prophet for our times, who has observed that Australia is the product of a British and an indigenous heritage. This Parliament is redolent of our British heritage. But only recently has this Parliament acknowledged our indigenous heritage.

The first Parliament to meet here in this city 86 years ago was opened by the Duke of York. There was one indigenous person present that day. Matilda has already recalled the presence on that day of a local man, Jimmy Clements. And that man on the side of the ceremony was every bit as much a symbol of unity as the representative of the Crown, because Jimmy Clements, although unacknowledged that day, carried with him an Australian flag.

Haven’t we changed over 86 years? Haven’t we come a long way? This city has come a long way. Our country has come a long way. And this Parliament has come a very long way indeed.

We have had indigenous members of this Parliament.

We have in Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives.

In this term of Parliament we have in Nova Peris the first female indigenous member of this Parliament.

Two indigenous members of this Parliament, in this, the 44 h Parliament of our country.

May that number increase. May we one day, not too far off, have an indigenous Prime Minister

Who would have thought that the Northern Territory would have an indigenous Chief Minister?

But if we can have our first female Senator, indigenous Senator, our first indigenous Member of the House of Representatives, if we can have an indigenous Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, we certainly can have an indigenous Prime Minister of this country and we certainly can have in this Parliament, or the next, full recognition of indigenous people in the Constitution of our country.

There is much that I dispute with my predecessor as Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, but I honour him for the historic apology to indigenous people that took place at the opening of this Parliament in 2008 and I honour him for including this indigenous element in the rituals of our Parliament, which is so fittingly now a part of the opening of a new parliamentary term.


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Welcome To Country – Response

Can I thank Matilda for the Welcome to Country and also to everyone here for the sharing the traditional music and dancing of this land with us.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are meeting on today, and the long and continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and their Country.

I would like to pay my respects to Elders both past and present – especially those Elders here with us today.

Can I also acknowledge the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Senate, many of my colleagues from the House and Senators who are joining us on this occasion.
And to welcome everyone else who is here with us today – I know some of you have travelled a long way to join us.

We meet today with hope for the future.

We have that hope because of what we’ve achieved in this place in recent years.

It is here that we stood together and committed to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – and the gap is closing.

It is here that we committed to formally recognise our first peoples in our founding document – the Constitution – a cause we continue into this Parliament.

It is here that a Prime Minister and a nation said sorry – and started a new relationship with Aboriginal people – one based on respect and reconciliation.

I know that there is much still to do – and it’s with this new spirit of reconciliation that we stand together today and reaffirm our commitment to do more.

Because this work doesn’t end with each Parliament. It transcends parliaments and it transcends politics.

I stand proud to serve in the Parliament of a country where the wonderful, important gesture such as we have seen today is common practice at events from the beginning of a new parliament, or at ANZAC Day services, or at school assemblies.

Together, I am confident we can make sure that the 44th Parliament of Australia can both honour this past, and push forward to ensure that the future will be a bright one for all Australians – Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

Once again Matilda, thank you for the Welcome to Country.

NACCHO political alert : Aboriginal Australians suffering “the racism of low expectations”

A T and M

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today announce the appointment of Mr Forrest to run the review which will be required to report back to him by April 7 next year according to reports in NEWS LTD

INDIGENOUS Australians are suffering “the racism of low expectations” about their job prospects, billionaire miner Andrew Forrest has claimed after taking the reins of a review of Federal Government Aboriginal employment programs.


The review will provide recommendations to ensure indigenous training and employment services are run to connect unemployed indigenous people with real and sustainable jobs.

It will also consider ways that training and employment services can better link to the commitment of employers and end the cycle of indigenous disadvantage.

Mr Forrest said that while indigenous Australians “continue to suffer the racism of low expectations”, they could make the greatest social and economic contribution to workplaces and the nation when given the opportunity.

“I am looking forward to hearing from as many people as possible throughout this review, to ensure all successful models of training that lead to employment are fully considered,” he said.

“I have seen in my own company Aboriginal people who have turned their lives around when given the guarantee of a job at the completion of training.”

Mr Abbott said the review delivered on an election commitment and showed his government was committed to boosting job opportunities for indigenous Australians.

“Too often, employment and training programs provide ‘training for training’s sake’ without the practical skills that people need to fill the jobs that exist,” he said.

“It is important that attention be given not just to skills training, but practical life education and ongoing mentoring to make sure jobs are lasting and careers are developed for indigenous Australians.”

Mr Abbott has promised to spend a week every year in an indigenous community as Prime Minister.

Mr Forrest said the review would throw open the books of government funding.

“We cannot measure the impact of labour market interventions without examining them from a systems perspective,” he said.

“By understanding the way they connect, and where the gaps are, we can inform policies that will provide holistic support for indigenous jobseekers so they can add value to the workplace on day one of the job.”



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NACCHO political alert DAY 4: Abbott’s radical shake-up team of Aboriginal affairs and health will be named within 10 days.

photo (6)

Mr Mundine defended Mr Abbott’s decision not to have a specific indigenous health minister in his line up. “I’m very comfortable with the way that has panned out,” he said. “Does it mean that health is going to be put back down the chain? No it’s not, it’s going to be a major priority.”

As reported by Lisa Martin AAP

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new team to instigate a radical shake-up of indigenous affairs will be named within 10 days.

The incoming chairman of Mr Abbott’s new indigenous advisory council, Warren Mundine, has flagged the announcement of the panel’s terms of reference and composition.

Mr Mundine said he was happy and relaxed about how it was coming together

The council will have a gender balance and representatives from all state and territories.

“It’s a massive challenge that we have to do,” he told Sky News.

Mr Mundine said the council’s biggest priority would be looking at spending.

“We’re very much focused on an economic outcome and commercial activity happening in indigenous communities,” he said.

“It’s not about what programs will be cut.”

The former Labor national president was tight-lipped on whether dumped Aboriginal NT Minister Alison Anderson would have a role on the board.

“Alison Anderson will be a person we have conversations with,” he said.

“I’m not here to make an announcement about who is on or off the council, that’s up to the Prime Minister.”

Mr Abbott unsuccessfully tried to woo Ms Anderson to the federal political arena late last year and was criticised for saying that it would be terrific to have an “authentic” indigenous representative of central Australia in Canberra.

Mr Mundine defended Mr Abbott’s decision not to have a specific indigenous health minister in his line up.

“I’m very comfortable with the way that has panned out,” he said.

“Does it mean that health is going to be put back down the chain? No it’s not, it’s going to be a major priority.”

Former indigenous health minister Warren Snowdon has raised concerns it may affect progress on closing the gap.

“It is outrageous that the gains made by the Labor government to close the gap in life expectancy are now potentially under threat because of poor planning, buck passing and lack of priority given to Indigenous Health by the new Abbott government,” Mr Snowdon said.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott told AAP that indigenous health would be the responsibility of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and indigenous health programs would fall under the department of PM&C.

Mr Mundine clarified that the coalition’s proposed $42 million cuts to indigenous legal services was money to be reviewed not cut.

Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap Statement and report 2013;NACCHO downloads

Julia PM


On behalf of the nation, I present the fifth annual Closing the Gap Statement.

Full speech download

Full report download

I am here today because the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of this country have decided to walk the path of Reconciliation together.

 Because the workers of Wave Hill said no and the voters of 1967 said yes.

 Because in a proud Labor tradition, Gough Whitlam poured the soil and Bob Hawke handed Uluru back.

 Because Paul Keating inscribed native title in our laws and Kevin Rudd said our nation was Sorry.

 Because this Government intends that our Constitution must speak for all Australians and the gap that separates our opportunities and living standards must be closed.

  Closing the Gap is a plan of unprecedented scale and ambition.

 A plan not only to uplift the lives of Indigenous Australians but to do so in a shared endeavour of partnership and respect.

 That high level of ambition commits us to two decades of annual reckoning until we bridge the gulf that stands between us.

 Few if any of the men and women who sit in this Parliament today will still be here when a future Prime Minister delivers the final Closing the Gap Statement in 2031.

 A short walk to this despatch box that we hope will mark the end of a monumental journey.

 Wherever we are on that day, the people of this land will want to hear one thing.

 That we have, at last, accorded Indigenous Australians the health care, education, job opportunities and community services they deserve.

 Above all, the opportunity unknown to many Indigenous people today – the chance to grow old.

 These goals require us to raise our eyes and lift our expectations; to invest, plan and think for the future.

 It is the work of an entire generation and work that has begun with us.

 So I account to the Parliament and people of Australia today.

 This is the fifth such Statement since the task began in 2008.

 Already we know that some targets, like life expectancy, will be enormously challenging to meet, even with almost two decades still to run.

 On others, progress has been encouragingly swift.

 Across the board, our sources of data and information are stronger than ever before.

 The report I make today is especially significant because this year, the very first of the target deadlines established five years ago falls due.

 In 2008 we pledged to deliver access to early childhood education to all four-year-olds in remote communities within five years.

 Well, the five years are up.

 I’m proud to say – we’ve got it done.

Download the full speech here

Download the Closing the Gap Prime ministers report here