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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 151..


Motion (by Mr Wood, by leave) agreed to:

That the Assembly authorises the publication of Auditor-General's Report No 11 of 2001.

Indigenous affairs

Ministerial statement

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (3.25): I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning indigenous affairs.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, this government was elected on a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs that acknowledges the right to self-determination and the importance of working in partnership. Our platform will ensure that policies and programs reflect the needs of the community.

There are a number of specific areas on which my government will focus in working to improve the opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of our community and to redress their current relative disadvantage. These include and will cover reconciliation; consultation; whole of government approaches; native title; human rights and justice; health; family violence; education; housing; and business and employment.

Mr Speaker, unlike many other communities in Australia, the ACT has become the focus of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not traditionally connected with the land on which they now live. First, as a regional centre, the ACT attracts many Aboriginal people from the surrounding country who look for work and the services available here. Second, as the national capital, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are engaged to work here in federal government agencies and other nationally focused bodies.

There is, for instance, a thriving and vibrant Torres Strait Islander community here as well as people from many different Aboriginal nations-from Cape York, the Kimberley, the Central Desert; indeed, from all over Australia. And, very importantly, the ACT is still occupied by the people whose forebears traditionally lived in this part of Australia-the Ngunnawal and Ngarigo people. My government strongly values the contributions these communities make to our society and is committed to working to better provide for them.

Mr Speaker, we respect the inherent indigenous rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first Australians. The government acknowledges the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, the continuing consequences of colonisation and the current disadvantaged circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Shelley Reys, co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, tells us:


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