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Announcement of the new National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Posted on: 23 November, 2009
Issue: Vol 9 No 4, October 2009 - December 2009
Related to Policies

Tom Calma has announced that a new national Indigenous representative body will be called the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Social Justice Commissioner Calma, who has convened the independent Indigenous Steering Committee since December 2008, announced the name after the Federal Government confirmed it had accepted the recommendations of the Committee’s report, Our future in our hands, and agreed to initial funding of the organisation until December 2013.

Commissioner Calma said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been without a representative voice for too long. He thanked the Australian Government for honouring their commitment to establish the new body in this term of government. He also thanked the Steering Committee for their tireless dedication and personal commitment and for continuing to work in a voluntary capacity on the institutional arrangements. He said that setting up the new body was a monumental task that would require a development phase until the end of 2010.

The Government is providing $29 million over four years for the policy and an advocacy body which will not be delivering programs and services.

The Steering Committee will continue to focus on:

  • establishing the Ethics Council for the organisation;
  • selecting and appointing the interim National Executive to lead the organisation through the development phase;
  • completing the preparatory work required to incorporate the company, including developing the constitution and the rules of the organisation in order to lodge it with ASIC; and
  • finalising selection documentation and the duty statement for the Chief Executive Officer, with the recruitment process for the CEO to commence soon.

Commissioner Calma said that it is critical that the knowledge and understandings gained by the Steering Committee over the last year are carried over to assist in the start-up phase of the National Congress. For this reason, the Committee has agreed that one member of the Steering Committee will initially sit on the Ethics Council and one member will sit on the Interim National Executive. It is intended that the Ethics Council would recommend to the Steering Committee the suitability of candidates for the eight-person Interim National Executive and their appointment would follow a merit based selection process.

“With funding secured for the initial years of operation, it is now up to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to put our future in our hands”, Mr Calma said. “I call on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to support the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and contribute to the task of building a truly representative and effective national voice.”