Landmark indigenous deal brings action to ACT
The ACT Government has signed an agreement to boost health and education services for Indigenous Australians.
The new ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement 2015-18 is aimed at better health and education outcomes, a reduction in the incarceration rates of Indigenous people, higher school retention rates and better relationships between the Government, the public service and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (ATSIEB).
The ACT is the only state or territory to have a body like ATSIEB.
ATSIEB chair Rod Little said the agreement would set a precedent for Australia.
“We hope that it'll achieve the framework that's just going to be around for generations to come and help future generations in achieving their better outcomes for our families and individuals in the ACT,” he told the ABC.
“I think this process today will probably set a bit of a benchmark that can be used elsewhere around the country.
“We don't want to see any documents that sit on the desk, on the bookshelf and gather dust,” he said.
“As an Aboriginal person I've been working in governments for such a long time and we see the efforts but we don't see the outcome from those efforts.”
ACT Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Yvette Berry said the was the first step to making a real difference.
“It's more than just ink on paper,” she told reporters.
“This formalises our relationship [with ATSIEB] and it makes all of us be accountable.
“The Government, the community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community will be accountable to each other about making a difference in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lives.”
Following 18 months of community consultation, Ms Berry said the Government had been made well aware of the importance of strengthening families and individuals.
“It means we're committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the community and their organisations to develop the opportunities and the knowledge and skills, to be empowered and to be resilient and to have a sustainable future,” she said.
“We needed to look at innovative ways and work together in building strong relationships.”
The deal will run for three years, with all parties expecting some tweaking before it expires.
“We'll continue to work on building relationships, looking at what needs to improve, how we can do that together both as a community and as a Government and hold each other to account in making that happen,” Ms Berry said.
The agreement will be presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly in coming weeks.