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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 3144 ..


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Disability, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Health and Minister for Urban Renewal) (11.27): Last week Mr Milligan contributed to this debate, again touting his 18-point booklet of fuzzy ideas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. I do commend Mr Milligan for his work and the fact that he is actually thinking about these issues and talking to people in the community about what is needed. It is unfortunate, though, that Mr Milligan is unable to admit that many of the things he is proposing are already actually in train.

Mr Milligan talked about Boomanulla Oval, for example, but he did not acknowledge that Boomanulla Oval was refurbished in 2018-19 and reopened for winter sports in May. The Deputy Chief Minister committed real dollars to ensure that the gates could be opened, and now the more complex work of returning their oval to community ownership and control is underway.

Mr Milligan's booklet of fuzzy ideas says the Liberals will establish a new Indigenous sporting collective to manage Boomanulla, in collaboration with a skills-based board. The eventual aim is to return the site to full Aboriginal control, but not immediately. So on one hand he recognises that there are complexities, and on the other hand he criticises the government for taking time to work with the community to get this right.

There is indeed a lot one could say as shadow minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. There is a lot still to do to close the gap and deliver equitable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community. We here all acknowledge that. Yet Mr Milligan spoke for less than six minutes. In his contribution he spoke about how excited he had been at the prospect of a new 10-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agreement with the elected body when it was signed in February, yet he chose that same day to launch his own booklet of fuzzy ideas. Rather than allowing the chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body to be the prominent voice on that day, rather than respecting the work of the elected body, on which he had been briefed in the week before the launch, he thought his own voice was more important. He thought political pointscoring was more important.

This is just one demonstration of an opposition that talks a big game about listening to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community but whose approach, when push comes to shove, is self-centred and paternalistic.

Our commitment to self-determination is at the heart of the ACT government's approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs in the ACT. Through the community conversations about the agreement, the government heard clearly about the centrality of strong families and the critical importance of self-determination and culturally specific services. I will take a moment to mention a few of the budget initiatives from across government that were informed by this message.

The ACT government has committed more than $1.1 million over four years to deliver the ACT's strategic priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health


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