Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have delivered the historic Redfern Statement direct to the Prime Minister at Parliament House, using the handover to demand a new relationship with government.
Indigenous leaders gave the statement to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and the leader of the Australian Greens, Richard di Natale, ahead of the 9th Closing the Gap Report to Parliament, released on 14 February 2017.
The Australian Human Rights Commission supports the Redfern Statement, through its membership of the Close the Gap Campaign.
"It is absolutely critical that parliaments listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and work in partnership with Indigenous communities to achieve meaningful and lasting change," said Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs, who is also acting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
Dr Jackie Huggins, who co-chairs the Close the Gap Campaign and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, called on the Prime Minister to support the Redfern Statement, saying it provides a road map to better address the appalling disadvantage gap between Australia’s First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by working with them as genuine partners.
Congress co-chair Rod Little, said: “After 25 years, eight Federal election cycles, seven Prime Ministers, eight Ministers for Indigenous Affairs, 400 recommendations, and countless policies, policy changes, reports, funding promises and funding cuts it’s time to draw a line in the sand.
“We need a new relationship that respects and harnesses our expertise, and guarantees us a seat at the table as equal partners when governments are making decisions about our lives.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from health, justice, children and families, disability, and family violence prevention sectors first released the Redfern Statement during the 2016 federal election campaign.
The statement calls for changes across these sectors through structured engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Statement supporters include the nation’s peak Indigenous organisations, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Oxfam, Amnesty, and more than 30 major mainstream organisations including the Australian Medical Association and Law Council.
Dr Huggins said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations have worked with Indigenous people and communities for decades and have shown they have solutions.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver 2.5 million episodes of care a year in their local communities – and are the only health and leadership models making inroads on Close the Gap targets.
“Our teachers, education professionals and family violence experts are delivering real results on the ground in their communities every single day – despite chronic underfunding and an ad hoc policy approach based on three year election cycles.
“Today we are seeking a new relationship, a genuine partnership and a commitment to ongoing structured engagement,” Dr Huggins said.
Read the full Redfern Statement here.
Photo: First Peoples Disability Network