Final stage of consultations for a national Indigenous representative body

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Key questions to be resolved for finalising the model for a new national Indigenous representative body will be distributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this week as the final consultation stage on the model gets underway.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said the ‘Getting it Right’ eight-page community guide was being distributed through national Indigenous media outlets and through an extensive Indigenous mailing list to highlight particular issues for further discussion.

“The Steering Committee wants to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples so that we can ensure the new body provides a strong, independent and credible voice on issues that matter to Indigenous people now and into the future,” Commissioner Calma said.

“Now that common ground and consensus has been reached on issues such as the objectives of the national representative body, this final stage of consultations will work out nuts and bolts issues such as how the body can best represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a way that includes local and regional issues.

“We also need to resolve the structure of the new body and determine whether members should be elected, whether they should be nominated to the national body by regional or state/territory level organisations, or whether it should be a combination of both,” he said.

“We need to probe what the body’s relationship with the federal government and the Parliament should be and how it should be constituted. For example, should it be a statutory authority, a company limited by guarantee or a non-government organisation?

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have maintained throughout the consultations to date that the body should be sustainable and able to operate independent of government funding over time, so the question of funding and sustainability is another critical issue to be resolved.”

Commissioner Calma said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to help determine the model could do so by answering an online survey by 10 June or by providing a written submission by 24 June.

“We will also be running a national competition to name the new national representative body with advertisements in national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media throughout May,” Commissioner Calma said.

To complete the online survey and to obtain information on how to make a submission go to www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/repbody/index.html

The Steering Committee must present a preferred model for a new national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian Government by the end of July. It is also required to make recommendations about the establishment of an interim body to begin from August 2009, and to ensure strong community support for the preferred model.