Social Justice Commissioner to convene Indigenous group advising on national representative body

Human Rights Commission – Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, today welcomed the request from Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, for him to convene an independent Indigenous Steering Committee to develop a model for a new National Indigenous Representative Body.

Mr Calma said he welcomed the role and the enormous challenge of heading the group charged with running the consultations and ultimately presenting a proposed model to government in July 2009.

“Given the importance of a national representative body for Indigenous Australians, I consider this role crucial and I do not take this responsibility lightly,” Commissioner Calma said.

“In the last few Social Justice Reports I have repeatedly stressed the importance of establishing a national representative body and of ensuring Indigenous peoples have a place at the table with government.

“Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Macklin must be congratulated for their leadership on this important issue and for accepting the advice of Indigenous peoples that this process should be led independent of government by Indigenous people.

“I can guarantee that the Steering Committee will take on this task with dedication and commitment.”

Commissioner Calma said the Steering Committee will host at least one national roundtable of Indigenous leaders and other consultations up to July next year. The Committee will consider the outcomes of consultations conducted by the government to date and develop options for the representative body. A national roundtable is expected to be held in February 2009 to commence this second stage of the process.

“We will be widely advertising in the Indigenous media throughout January for nominations to attend the national roundtable followed by an open and transparent selection process,” he said.

“We will also be setting aside dedicated places for representatives of peak Indigenous bodies with the numbers and selection process for such peak bodies to be decided by the Steering Committee.”

Mr Calma has invited a number of individuals to participate on the Steering Committee. Each person will be on the committee in their individual capacity and has been chosen for their experience and knowledge of national representative body mechanisms. The Committee membership will also reflect a balance of geographic representation, gender, age and youth members.

The following individuals have agreed to participate on the Steering Committee:

* Mr Mark Bin Bakar (WA);
* Ms Tanya Hosch (SA);
* Mr Geoff Scott (NSW);
* Dr Jackie Huggins AM; (Qld)
* Mr Tim Goodwin (Victoria and youth representative);
* Ms Yananymul Mununggurr (NT Top End homelands communities);
* Mr Jason Glanville (ACT);
* Ms Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (NT, Central Australia);
* Mr John Toshi Kris (Torres Strait Islands); and
* Ms Nala Mansell-McKenna (Tasmania and youth representative).

Professor Mick Dodson will also participate in the Steering Committee in an advisory capacity.

“The Steering Committee will seek to ensure widespread involvement of Indigenous people in the consultation process,” Commissioner Calma said.

“This year has been a progressive one in terms of recognising Indigenous people’s rights. It is crucial that in 2009, Indigenous peoples throughout Australia seize this next opportunity to chart their own future by being a part of these consultations.”

Media contact: Louise McDermott (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597

* Biographies of Steering Committee members *

[Tom Calma] is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group. He is currently the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and National Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

[Mark Bin Bakar] comes from the Kimberley and is a descendant of the Kitja Tribe. He is a member if the Australia Council’s national Indigenous arts reference group (NIARG), and has an arts career spanning 30 years. A musician, a performer and radio announcer based in Broome, he is best known for his television character Mary Geddarrgyu, or Mary G. Mark was named Western Australia’s Australian of the Year for 2007 and the National Indigenous Person of the Year for 2007/2008.

[Tanya Hosch] is a Torres Strait Islander woman. Tanya has experience working with state and Commonwealth Government agencies and is interested in projects relating to Indigenous youth. She has worked for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in Canberra, and with ATSIC. Tanya has been involved in the development and delivery of leadership programs for young people and attended the Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit earlier in the year.

[Geoff Scott] is a Wiradjuri man and currently Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. He has over 25 years experience in the public service working in Indigenous policy. He was formerly the Director-General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Deputy CEO of ATSIC. He is also is currently Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

[Dr Jackie Huggins AM] is of the Bidjara (Central Queensland) and Birri-Gubba Juru (North Queensland) peoples. Jackie is a Director of the Telstra Foundation; Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland; Member of the Indigenous Advisory Board of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, Central Queensland University; former Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia; former Chair of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council (2001); former Commissioner for Queensland for the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (1997); and former member of the ATSIC Review Panel (2003). In 2001 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Indigenous community.

[Tim Goodwin] is a member of the Yuin nation on the south east coast of NSW. Tim serves on the Board of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the Editorial Boards of the Australian Indigenous Law Review and Ngiya: Talk the Law. Tim is currently the Deputy Chair of the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia (NIYMA).

[Yananymul Mununggurr] is from the Yirrkala community in north east Arnhem Land and is a Djapu woman. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Laynhapuy Homelands Association and advocate for Indigenous people’s political and cultural rights.

[Jason Glanville] is a member of the Wiradjuri peoples from south-western New South Wales. Over the last 15 years Jason has worked in a range of positions in community-based Indigenous organisations, state and federal Governments and non-government peak organisations. He is currently the Director of Policy and Strategy with Reconciliation Australia. He is also a Director of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, Co-Director of the Ngiya Institute for Indigenous Law, Policy and Practice and Member of the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Celebration Committee.

[Rosalie Kunoth-Monks] is an Arrente and Amatjere woman from Utopia. She is currently Shire President of Barkly Shire Council. Rosalie became the first Aboriginal Anglican nun in 1960 and after 10 years left to work as a liaison office with the Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs and it was during this time that she set up the first Aboriginal home for children in Victoria. Throughout her life Rosalie has remained passionately involved in traditional and contemporary Aboriginal issues including law and justice, culture and language, education and childcare.

[John Toshi Kris] is the Chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The TSRA is a statutory authority that runs programs for Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait area, and which seeks to maintain the special and unique Ailan Kastom of Torres Strait Islanders.

[Nala Mansell-McKenna] is a youth worker and political spokesperson for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. She was a member of the previous government’s National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group in 2004-05, and has organised many community activities.

[Professor Mick Dodson] is a member of the Yawuru peoples, the traditional Aboriginal owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is currently Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University, Professor of Law and the Australian National University College of Law, member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia.