Canberra purse strings – control more important than indigneous representative funding stability

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Media Release 27/08/2009
National representative body for Indigenous Australians

The Australian Government today welcomed the release of a report on a national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The proposed model sets a high benchmark for strong, responsible and strategic leadership.

The Government respects the steering committee’s view that the establishment of a capital fund would allow the national representative body to operate independently of grant funding.

However, the Government has no plans to contribute to such a fund at this time.

The Government is prepared to provide modest and appropriate recurrent funding for the national representative body once it is established, as well as providing support in its critical establishment phase.

This would be benchmarked against funds provided to similar autonomous, peak representative bodies.

(The proposed model) supports gender equality, youth leadership and upholding the highest ethical principles for public office holders.

It has been developed through a detailied consultation process led and driven by Indigenous people.

The Government is committed to resetting the relationship with Indigenous Australians and working with them in new partnerships based on trust, goodwill and mutual respect.

Closing the gap is a national priority and we know that Indigenous Australians must have a voice if we are to achieve change.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma and his steering committee are to be congratulated for their tireless work.

They have aimed to create a body which will build a clear vision for a positive future for Indigenous Australians, through research, policy development and advocacy.

Initially, the new body will focus on forging strong relationships with peak bodies, governments, regions and the private sector.

The Government is prepared to provide modest and appropriate recurrent funding for the national representative body once it is established, as well as providing support in its critical establishment phase.

This would be benchmarked against funds provided to similar autonomous, peak representative bodies.

Funding would be administered in the same way as it is for other national peak bodies, respecting the right of organisations to put their view, while requiring them to demonstrate that they are representative and that funding is used responsibly.

The Government respects the steering committee’s view that the establishment of a capital fund would allow the national representative body to operate independently of grant funding.

However, the Government has no plans to contribute to such a fund at this time.

Once the national representative body is established and operating, further consideration may be given to a partnership arrangement with business and others to establish a capital fund that allows it to become self-funding.

The establishment of a national representative body will deliver on an important election commitment for this Government.

The Government has always been clear that we will not replicate the failed policies of the past and the new body will not be another ATSIC.

The new national representative body must be transparent, accountable and effective.

The Government will consider Mr Calma’s report and respond appropriately.