Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2267 ..
new energy to representing the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community for the next three years.
I look forward to catching up with the new elected body at their induction next week, working with them over the term and continuing to consult and engage with Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about the issues that matter to them.
Part of the elected body’s role is to maximise the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT to voice their concerns to decision-makers as well as to maximise participation in developing and implementing government policies.
The amendment act we passed recently established a requirement for the new elected body, within six months of the election, to develop a consultation plan to outline how it will work to maximise the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT. I look forward to the development of that plan and to working with them through that engagement.
MS ORR: Minister, how will the ACT government engage and consult with Canberra’s broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her supplementary question. As I mentioned in my previous answer, recently this Assembly passed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Amendment Bill 2017, which expanded the role of the elected body and strengthened its functions to consult and provide advice on systemic or whole-of-government issues. As part of this, it enshrined the elected body’s ability to hold public hearings to evaluate government service provision. But it also sought to maximise the role of the elected body in engaging the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to give them an opportunity to voice their concerns to decision-makers.
The role of the elected body does not therefore restrict the ACT government’s ability to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT more broadly on any issue that affects them. It enhances it. Such consultation must also be part of our normal day-to-day business of government. This government understands that it is critical to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans who are immediately affected by our policies and programs, and we do this on a regular basis.
The elected body, the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled organisations and businesses, and individuals in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community all have a part to play in informing government.
I was fortunate recently to attend a number of NAIDOC Week events where, of course, polling was taking place. It was also an opportunity to spend time listening to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. What I am hearing from them is about the importance of engaging in those informal conversations, as well as in conversations with the community through formal bodies like the elected