Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

HREOC paper on national Indigenous representative body

I thank the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, for the contribution of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) issues paper on a national Indigenous representative body.

The paper is a very helpful contribution for beginning the consultation process for a new Indigenous representative body.

It is a very substantial, well thought out piece of work looking at the experiences of Indigenous representative bodies, both in Australia and overseas.

The paper provides important background and raises some critical issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to consider about the role, composition and structure of the body.

I agree with the HREOC paper that service delivery is a responsibility for all levels of government, not for this new body.

The Government has stated some of the broad principles for a new representative body. These include:

  • The representative body will not be another ATSIC
  • The body will have urban, regional and remote representation

We must all learn from mistakes of the past. The representative body must develop and maintain a credible reputation with Indigenous people, the broader public and government.

It will have a clearly defined role and will not replicate existing structures.

The Australian Government is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and engaging Indigenous Australians in developing solutions.

The Government’s consultation on a representative body will include grass roots regional consultations in all States and Territories, a call for written submissions and a roundtable meeting of Indigenous leaders to discuss the options.

Further details on providing input are available on 14 July 2008 at Consultations for the proposed National Indigenous Representative Body or by calling 1800 202 366 (free call).