Liberals Ignore Indigenous Australians Once Again

The Andrews Labor Government has joined other states and territories in slamming the Turnbull Government’s attempt to sideline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by ramming through changes to Closing the Gap targets without proper consultation.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins today joined other Aboriginal Affairs Ministers in demanding the Federal Government include Australia’s first people in refreshing the Closing the Gap framework.

The calls follow last week’s Council of Australian Governments Council in Canberra where Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion sought States’ agreement to revise Closing the Gap targets without sufficient time to take into account the views and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders.

Ms Hutchins also expressed deep disappointment at the Federal Government’s rejection of a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders to the Federal Parliament – an initiative supported by the Labor Government in Victoria.

In a joint letter to the Commonwealth a majority of the nation’s Aboriginal Affairs Ministers requested:

  • A re-commitment to current Close the Gap targets until new ones are determined through a process of self-determination
  • A commitment to adopt a strengths-based approach
  • Clear communication that the refresh process will be led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
  • A six month extension on consultation timeframe to allow genuine engagement and community endorsement

The Federal Government needs to listen to the views of the National Congress of Australia’s First People who stated in the Redfern Statement that “self-determination is the key to closing the gap in outcomes for the First Peoples…”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins

“It’s increasingly obvious the Turnbull Government are not committed to reconciliation or self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“The current approach to Closing the Gap isn’t working. That’s why we need to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the centre of the decision making process when it comes to this framework refresh.”

“We’ll keep working towards treaty and self-determination in Victoria regardless of what the Turnbull Government do.”