GetUp! campaign – 2020 ideas summit – indigenous issues

GetUp! 2020 Ideas Forum
These contributions are based on ideas and comments taken from GetUp’s 2020 Ideas Forum. They reflect the intent of the contributors – but not necessarily GetUp!

“Sorry was the first step, but now we need to consider how we are going to move forward with the reconciliation process. One option is a treaty between white and black Australia that settles questions of land ownership, self-determination and reconciliation.”

Read on for more …

2020 Indigenous Australia Forum

Community approach to Indigenous development

The traditional approach to Indigenous policy in Australia has been government-imposed, paternalistic and removed from the needs and wants of the community. It has not been effective. At the same time, there are a large number of successful community-led programs that have had real, lasting and positive impacts in their communities. This gives us two opportunities.
The first is to fund existing programs that need financial support to widen their reach and impact. The second is that each program provides a model of an effective approach that can be rolled out across other communities. This approach also recognises that solutions lie in locally-appropriate development schemes, not necessarily ‘one size fits all’ schemes.

New approach to Indigenous business models

We need to consider a new approach to Indigenous business models.
Micro-credit programs have been successfully applied in many other countries, but have not worked in the Australian context. Insufficient capital is not a problem, but issues of control and ownership of land and lack of knowledge and information mean that financial investment is not effective by itself.
We should consider solutions to this problem.
Land ownership could be solved by treaty – a treaty that gave absolute ownership of land to its Indigenous custodians, including the resources under the land and the flora and fauna on the land.
The knowledge gap could be solved by providing information on how to run a small business in local languages, or in ways that acknowledge the existing knowledge of the target groups.
Building this foundation of ownership and expertise, and then providing financial assistance, would help build Indigenous business.

Indigenous Treaty

Sorry was the first step, but now we need to consider how we are going to move forward with the reconciliation process. One option is a treaty between white and black Australia that settles questions of land ownership, self-determination and reconciliation.

Comparable treaties (such as the treaties agreed in Canada and New Zealand) recognise that Parliament’s jurisdiction over the land is based on agreement with the traditional owners and recognise that the Indigenous people have an absolute right to self-determination. The treaties provide a legal basis for governance and recognition of land and cultural rights. This question must be dealt with in the Australian context in order to achieve reconciliation and Indigenous political inclusion.

2020 Governance Forum
Charter of Rights

2020 is a summit about ideas; on of the biggest idea we can devise is a Charter of Rights. This Charter should be a statement of our fundamental values and protect our rights and freedoms. It would serve as the ultimate expression of our democracy.
State legislatures have started to enact laws, but this is a piece-meal, limited and legally problematic approach. A national Charter, born of discussion, consultation and consensus is needed both practically and symbolically to unify, harmonise and safeguard our shared experience.
The Charter must also take into account Australia’s Indigenous history and peoples. It must take both a contemporary and long-term view, to ensure that it codifies appropriate rights and freedoms, in the context of Australia’s Constitution, history and obligations under international law.

Politics and the new technology revolution

A contemporary healthy democracy relies on an engaged citizenry who not only inform but also actively create our political reality. Apart from the periodic opportunity to vote, for too long we have been excluded from the processes that inform the key decisions we make as a nation. Inclusive and deliberative processes will break down these barriers to political engagement.
Sincere financial and political investment is required in accessible means to allow multi-channel pathways to engagement. This can best be achieved by employing new and online technologies to engage the broadest constituency at the deepest level. This allows the free flow of information both ways between the government and the governed, but also the formal integration of community consultation in the decision-making process.
New technology has revolutionised the way we do everything from shopping to communicating. Now it is also revolutionising the way we do politics. A transparent and accountable online interface between the governed and our governors will be essential to a vibrant democracy and our shared 2020 future.

Indigenous governance

Globally, the development of Indigenous governance structures has been a key step in overturning disadvantage in Indigenous communities. It empowers Indigenous people to make real decisions affecting their communities, creates a unif ying structure for political debate and dialogue within communities, and allows a constructive engagement with the formal structures of national government.
International practice on Indigenous governance shows that structures must be broadly representative, culturally legitimate and practical. They must also include a unified commitment from all parties to address challenges, respond with innovative approaches and support Indigenous involvement in building stronger, more effective governance.

It’s time for Australia to develop its Indigenous governance structures. Commendable work has been done on research and base policy guidelines – particularly by community/business and state and federal government partnerships – but action must be taken to realise this research into implementable policy and strategies. The Government has an important role to play in engaging with Indigenous communities to work through issues identified by existing research, define contemporary relationships and cultural geographies and then build legitimate and credible structures and institutions.

2020 Creative Australia Forum

Indigenous cultural heritage

Indigenous cultural heritage and development must be safeguarded by intellectual property law. This is particularly important in the context of the unique significance arts and culture holds for Indigenous peoples. Indigenous custodians in traditional communities are concerned for the future of their knowledge systems. Traditional Indigenous societies pass sacred stories, songs, dance and laws down through the generations within a bond of trust and understanding. Non-Indigenous people and systems should respect this system and acknowledge, respect and include the right of the Indigenous custodians to pass on this knowledge in traditional ways.

Within a formal legal framework, there are various protections that should be afforded to Indigenous cultural heritage and works, including the protection of the underlying ideas or information that is put into a work, a style or method of art, some performances of dance and music (regardless of whether they have been recorded) and a community’s right in an artwork. This is all taken from existing intellectual property law.

We should also consider developing specific legislation that establishes a minimum standard for the recognition and protection of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge and art. This law must be developed in close consultation with Indigenous communities and Indigenous custodians. Particularly, it should consider recognition of communal ownership of economic and moral rights in Indigenous copyright works; the establishment of a right of resale and the recognition of informed consent and benefit-sharing in respect of access to genetic resources schemes. The native title regime should be reviewed to ensure that native title rights include traditional knowledge.

Read the full discussion at