Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Re-setting the Relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

The Australian Government will invest $148.9 million in a range of new measures to help re-set the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Government’s bold reform agenda in Indigenous affairs is underpinned by our determination to forge a new relationship with Indigenous Australians based on trust, respect and engagement.

These measures build on the national Apology to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations, and the Government’s statement of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Government is providing $26.6 million over four years for an Indigenous Healing Foundation, to support healing initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with a strong focus on the unique needs of the Stolen Generations.

Stolen Generations Elder May O’Brien and academic expert Gregory Phillips are leading a consultation team to develop proposals for the Foundation model, to be established by the beginning of 2010.

The Government is providing an additional $13.8 million over three years for Link-Up Services to support up to over 100 Return to Country and Institutional reunions for members of the Stolen Generations. Additional caseworkers, together with the administrative support needed to tackle the critical backlog in Link-Up services, will support members of the Stolen Generations to trace, locate and reunite with their families.

$10.8 million over three years will be provided to Reconciliation Australia to secure the future of its education and awareness programs to build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and continue supporting the development of local Reconciliation Action Plans by schools, local governments and business.

We are also investing an additional $50.1 million in the Native Title System to promote economic development and provide a further dimension to the development of new working relationships with Indigenous Australians.

The allocation of $34.6 million over three years in the Northern Territory will support and develop the leadership capacity of Indigenous Territorians and encourage their involvement in the transition to a sustainable development phase in the Northern Territory.

This will include the establishment of 15 Indigenous Engagement Officer positions for local people along with community engagement and leadership development workshops to build leadership capacity and support people on the ground.

The Government is providing $13.0 million over four years for the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program to improve electoral knowledge and participation in Indigenous communities, encouraging people to enrol and vote in Federal, State and local government elections.

The Government is establishing a national Indigenous representative body to give Indigenous people a voice in national affairs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma will provide a report to the Australian Government by the end of July 2009 outlining recommendations for a national Indigenous representative body.

The Government will also introduce legislation to lift the current suspension to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA) in the Spring Sittings of Parliament this year.

We will introduce a compulsory income management system which does not require the suspension of the RDA. This will involve intensive consultation with Indigenous communities across the NT.

The Government is committed to providing more ways for Indigenous voices to be heard through the national representative body, through consultation on key policy decisions and through our support for Indigenous leadership.

The Government is committed to a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

More information on these measures is contained in the Fact Sheets available online at: FaHCSIA website