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Indigenous representative body proposed

Posted on: 28 August, 2009
Issue: Vol 9 No 3, July 2009 - September 2009
Related to Cultural ways Policies

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, has provided a report outlining a proposed new structure for a body to replace ATSIC, which was disbanded in 2005.The report, handed to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, on the proposed Indigenous representative body, recommends that the body should be independent of government and headed by elected representatives of equal gender. The body would be set up as a private company and not be solely reliable on Government funding.

The report is the culmination of a year long consultation process and is seen as an historic day for Indigenous Australia, with the proposed body to set benchmarks in self-determination and gender equality. This provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to work in partnership with government, the private sector and the Australian community to achieve economic and cultural independence.

Under the proposed model the Government would provide operational funding for the first five years as the company established its own sources of income and partial funding for a further five years until the body became fully independent.
The new body would be governed by an executive of eight people, elected by a national congress comprising 128 delegates from around the country. The congress would meet yearly to set policies, with the executive charged with implementing them. The body’s ethics council would use a merit based approach to select a short list of candidates for election to the executive, as well as investigating ethical breaches by anyone in the executive or congress. The new body would have advisory powers only and would not be responsible for service delivery.

Minister Jenny Macklin indicated that the Government would consider the report as quickly as possible and move to set up the organisation before the end of the year.

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