Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 June 2022) . . Page.. 1461 ..
Prime Minister elect on election night. He has given many First Nations people an increased sense of optimism for the future. Whilst I am sure that there will be differences of opinion about which aspect should come first, we must adopt all three of the main pillars of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We need truth, treaty and voice. We need to work hard, and we need to work hand in hand with the community to get this done.
Each of us has an individual responsibility to make efforts to progress reconciliation. Each of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves about the level of damage and subsequent disadvantage that colonisation has caused. Each of us must approach these issues with a willingness to accept that the actions of our forefathers and of some current government practices have caused, and continue to cause, harm.
We must all do our best and we must approach it with “yindumara”, the Ngunnawal word for “respect”, because we should all acknowledge this week, and of course in every other week, that reconciliation is more than a word and that reconciliation will make a better future not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians but for all Australians. I thank the minister for her statement, and I invite us all to reflect on the importance and the meaning of Reconciliation Week.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (11.23): I wish to briefly respond to Minister Stephen-Smith’s ministerial statement. The minister has just spoken at some length about various federal governments, including the new one. She also spoke about the importance of leaders who are willing to be brave when it comes to taking real action in relation to requests from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
I stand today to remind the minister that respecting the voices of Indigenous Australians is important at the territorial level as well. Here in the ACT the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have, for nearly a year and a half, unitedly called on Minister Stephen-Smith and her cabinet colleagues to support a commission of inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the ACT justice system. That request was publicly repeated as recently as eight days ago, but this Labor-Greens government continues to deny this entreaty.
I also note that within Minister Stephen-Smith’s portfolio as Minister for Families and Community Services, it has been almost four years since the Our Booris, Our Way review into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the child protection system handed down its first interim recommendations, yet not one of those recommendations has been fully implemented. I will share just two examples. Recommendation 4 is that there be universal access to family group conferencing. The ACT government accepted this recommendation, and on paper it is now a policy in the child protection system; but, as was clearly revealed during the annual reports hearings at the beginning of the year, and in answers to questions arising from that hearing, this simply is not happening. The policy exists on paper, but the evidence is clear: many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families that come into contact with the child protection system are simply not being referred for family group conferencing. This is not universal access, at all.