Page 1525 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 May 2015
MS BERRY: I am pleased to be able to present to the Assembly the ACT Torres Strait Islander agreement and I would like to thank everybody who attended the formal signing on 23 April which made it such a successful day: the Chief Minister and my government colleagues, members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, Ngunnawal elders and family members, the Head of Service, community leaders and public servants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous alike.
The two official, signed copies of the agreement are now in the process of being framed and once that is complete both the government and the elected body will take possession of a copy to signify the partnership that we have formalised. The positive response of that day has continued in the time since and I thank everyone for their constructive approach as we now turn to the implementation of the agreement.
The document articulates both a shared commitment and a shared responsibility to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT. Its value lies in the fact that it is alive. It has a clear intent and clear mechanisms to guide the way we do things in the future pursuit of equitable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I would like to acknowledge the work of the elected body through the process of developing this agreement. The elected body has been instrumental in its advocacy for the agreement and also in the consultation process, leading two community forums to identify key focus areas and to discuss issues such as reconciliation, self-determination and the elements of positive relationship between the community and the government.
The government has also hosted workshops and a ministerial roundtable in which diverse stakeholders including peak bodies and service providers, working with the ACT and Torres Strait Islander community, contributed their experience and knowledge. These workshops generated quality feedback and advice that reiterated support for positive working relationships between the community, government and stakeholders. I acknowledge the leadership of Minister Rattenbury through much of this process and his belief in the importance of the agreement.
The many consultations feeding into the agreement established strong families as a foundation on which other goals should be set. The community feedback also identified a number of focus areas that impact on the resilience of families, including the need to develop positive cultural identity among children, young people and young adults so that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans can have the confidence to aspire to, and to achieve, their personal life goals.
Community members and stakeholders also spoke about the need to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT feel safe in their homes and in the wider community. Access to secure housing, positive interaction with statutory services, culturally appropriate support for families dealing with instances of drug or alcohol addiction, mental health issues and domestic violence were all identified as factors which affect people’s ability to feel safe.