Source: Government of Australia Capital Territory
The ACT Government has announced additional support to enhance the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body’s capacity, independence and long-term sustainability.
The Government will invest $1.19 million over three years to expand the capacity of the Elected Body to provide vital policy advice and increase its engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Elected Body members will have their paid time increased and will be supported by an independent secretariat.
This funding will allow the Elected Body to engage more fully with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and to work in partnership with government agencies to achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.
The additional funding includes $200,000, drawn from the Healing and Reconciliation Fund, for an independent First Nations-led review of the Elected Body model. The review process will make recommendations to better align the Elected Body model with the needs and views of the community and with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The Review process will allow an incoming Government to present a model for a strengthened Elected Body in the first half of 2025, to be implemented in 2026.
Throughout this process the Elected Body will remain a pivotal voice to government in recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a say on issues affecting their lives, their needs, and their aspirations.
The next Elected Body elections will take place alongside NAIDOC Week 2024, with polling open from Saturday 6 July to Saturday 13 July.
Quotes attributable to ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr:
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to further enhancing self-determination in the delivery of programs and services for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“It represents the local implementation of one of the principles of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Rachel Stephen-Smith
“Since its establishment in 2008, the Elected Body has been instrumental in improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT and speaking truth to the ACT Government on issues affecting the community.
“While other jurisdictions have been progressing models, the Elected Body has been the only legislated voice in Australia and plays several pivotal roles, including advocating for the needs of the community, supporting government accountability and as a partner for both the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement and the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
“The National Agreement on Closing the Gap requires all governments to identify, develop or strengthen independent mechanisms, that will support, monitor and report on the transformation of mainstream agencies and institutions.
“The Elected Body already provides a crucial mechanism for holding the ACT Government to account and enabling a strong voice for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. With the outcome of the Voice referendum now known, it is timely to reflect on how we can strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander voices in the ACT in line with the National Agreement.”
– Statement ends –
Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases