Today’s first meeting of the new COAG Ministerial Council on Indigenous Affairs brought together ministers from all Australian governments in Canberra to re-energise national efforts on Indigenous policy. The Council was welcomed to Ngunnawal and Ngambri country by Tina Brown of the Ngunnawal peoples.
Ministerial representatives from federal, state and territory governments recommitted to uniting efforts for Indigenous affairs across Australia, with a focus on the Closing the Gap Refresh and continuing to improve engagement between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and governments.
Co-Chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
The Council welcomed the Co-Chairs of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Ms Jackie Huggins and Mr Rod Little, who spoke about the need for Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and how governments can better engage with Indigenous advisory and representative bodies.
Council members discussed priorities for Indigenous affairs, noting the importance of the process to refresh Closing the gap. Members discussed the importance of listening to, and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and noted there are multiple models for achieving this around the Federation, including through work underway in some jurisdictions toward local decision making and treaties.
Closing the Gap Refresh
Council members agreed the importance of moving to a strength-based approach to Closing the Gap that celebrates Indigenous achievement, as well as addressing persistent disadvantage. The Council recommitted to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the issues that affect them, creating economic and social opportunities, noting that community support and a shared sense of ownership are essential for delivering meaningful, practical change.
All jurisdictions highlighted their commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to refresh the agenda for the next ten years of Indigenous Affairs in Australia.
- Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Commonwealth) (Chair)
- The Honourable Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (New South Wales)
- The Honourable Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Victoria)
- The Honourable Mark Furner, Minister of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Local Government (Queensland)
- Mr Reece Whitby, Parliamentary Secretary (Western Australia)
- The Honourable Kyam Maher, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (South Australia)
- Ms Sarah Courtney, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier (Tasmania)
- Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (Australian Capital Territory)
- The Honourable Ken Vowles, Minister for Primary Industry and Resources (Northern Territory)
- Ms Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
- Mr Rod Little, Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples