Page 459 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022
were sitting around a few months ago talking about me because of something that came up on Facebook and his wife said to him, “Do you know this Mark Parton fella?” Kevin told me that he replied by saying, “No, I don’t know him, but I’m pretty sure he’s Noongar. I reckon he’s Noongar.” I reckon Kevin is a pretty good judge. I said to him, “Kevin, I look Norwegian. How could you possibly have known that?” but he is a good judge.
The story is not over, and there is more to come, but thanks for indulging me. Thank you.
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders—Closing the Gap
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (5.12): I thank Mr Parton for sharing his story with the Legislative Assembly. I think it is an important one.
I rise today, Madam Speaker, to mark last Thursday, 17 March, which was National Close the Gap Day, a day for all of us, but particularly for those of us in positions of leadership within government, to reaffirm our commitment to closing the gap in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples between them and other Australians. The continued gap in outcomes demonstrates that, despite the inherent strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and communities, despite the resilience and determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the harms of colonisation and institutional racism continue to be felt. Close the Gap Day is an opportunity to sharpen our focus on what still needs to be done.
The government is guided in its work by two key agreements, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which represents a partnership between all Australian governments and the coalition of peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body organisations; and the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2019-2028, which represents a partnership between the ACT government and the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body. I will soon deliver the government’s first annual report statement against these agreements, providing key data and tracking our progress against the significant commitments.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hold the cultural knowledge, the lived experience and the ingenuity to help close the gap. They have the answers. Governments must be focused on investing in partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve our shared goals, and our work through these two agreements demonstrates the value of this approach. As an example, both agreements commit the government to supporting the Aboriginal community-controlled sector to grow and develop, allowing it to deliver more services which will help to close the gap.
The government is progressing a number of initiatives which align with this priority. These include the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drug residential rehabilitation service; ongoing co-design of the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm model of service; the establishment and evaluation of an