Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 August 2017) . . Page.. 2473 ..
I could go on. We recognise that this is a difficult area. I am not oblivious to the many issues of disadvantage, even intergenerational disadvantage, which are experienced by Indigenous Canberrans. But I wonder whether enough is being done to alleviate these. Are we doing enough to empower the community to work through their own problems? At the national level the federal Liberal government has made the courageous and momentous decision that only Indigenous organisations should be funded to support the work of overcoming disadvantage in Indigenous communities. Mr Scullion based his decision on the overwhelming evidence that the best outcomes from services designed to address Indigenous disadvantage are achieved when those services are designed and delivered by Aboriginal organisations.
This begs the question: are the decisions in the ACT made to employ certain non-Indigenous organisations to support the work of overcoming disadvantage in the Indigenous community the right ones? We know that in a strength-based approach we need to be focusing on working with, not for, and doing it with them, not to them.
The theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week was “Let’s take the next steps”. What are the next steps? For this government it would appear to be more of the same. I therefore call on this government to make a difference: as a next step, to commit to work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the ACT; as a next step, to employ and fund only Indigenous organisations to do the work of overcoming disadvantage in the Indigenous community; as a next step, to allow Indigenous organisations to design and deliver programs that achieve the best outcomes to actually address Indigenous disadvantage; and, as a next step, ultimately to start to make a difference and finally begin to close the gap.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (12.26): I would like to start by thanking Minister Rattenbury for bringing this motion to the Assembly. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of the motion. In speaking to this motion today, it is appropriate to acknowledge, again, the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people. As the motion itself asked the Assembly to do, I acknowledge and respect the continuing culture and contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make to the life of this city and our region.
As the motion sets out, this year we celebrated two significant anniversaries—the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision which overturned the myth of terra nullius. The ACT government was pleased to support celebrations of both of these anniversaries, the first with the NAIDOC Committee and the second with the Torres Strait Islander association of the ACT. I attended both of those events and enjoyed them very much. I also attended the Sorry Day bridge walk the day before the anniversary of the referendum and the day that the Uluru statement was delivered.