Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 6-7 March 2018

Meeting Communique: Indigenous Advisory Council, 6-7 March 2018

Indigenous Affairs Indigenous Advisory Council
Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The members of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council met in Canberra on 6-7 March 2018.  

Members welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and representatives from departments. Issues discussed included:

  • Organisational Governance and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act): the Council discussed the role of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, and how important it is that the regulatory settings, supports and communication are right for Indigenous corporations, Council stressed that the regulatory framework is only one part of the picture. What Indigenous corporations also need is support for boards to understand and meet their responsibilities. There needs to be a strong focus on helping directors to develop the business acumen they need to do their jobs.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund - Next steps: the Council acknowledged the hard work of the Indigenous Land Corporation and Government and noted their support of the proposed reforms. Council noted the intention to introduce legislation to: expand the Indigenous Land Corporation’s remit to include freshwater and sea country; and to transfer the management of the Land Account to the Future Fund. Council noted these changes were supported by the vast majority of stakeholders consulted during the July to September 2017 consultation process.
  • Update on outcomes from COAG and the Indigenous Employment and Supplier Use Infrastructure Framework: feedback was provided on the Indigenous Economic Development agenda and the outcomes from the recent Council of Australian Governments’ meeting, where leaders committed to increasing transparency, strengthening reporting and better connecting Commonwealth and State and Territory supply-side employment policies with Indigenous procurement and supplier use policies. The Council acknowledged the success of the Indigenous Procurement Policy and suggested that ongoing success is dependent on business, Government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community working together to improve business skills, work skills and ongoing employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Council also recommended that all Departments be assertive in the development of the Indigenous Employment and Supplier-Use Framework. In particular, the Council noted the importance of taking into account what hasn’t worked in the past and recognising that the Framework needs to include clear incentives for private sector contractors to achieve Indigenous participation targets, to ensure that the Framework has the intended impact.
  • School Education: The Council considered a range of current issues relating to school education. The discussion emphasised a strengths-based approach to accountability and transparency at the Commonwealth, State, School and Community level.  The importance of accountability for schools funding provided to states, territories and other education authorities was discussed, and the Council considered the benefits of workforce initiatives and professional organisations, such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principals Association. A strong theme was high expectations for student success, shared between schools and families, and ensuring that needs-based funding and targeted support are maximised to realise this.  Building the capacity of the teaching workforce was an agreed priority, noting that state and territory governments also have a role. Actions could include incentives to attract experienced teachers to remote schools, in particular, specialist support and recognition for children for whom English is a second/foreign language, as well as increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educator workforce.  The Council noted the right of every Australian child to a quality education that meets the needs of a student and their family, and the life and employment opportunities that flow from this. The Council noted the value of locally agreed compacts between schools and communities, and encouraged the Government to consider such place-based compacts with a focus on guaranteed educational outcomes.
  • Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) Evaluation Framework: noted the progress on developing and implementing the Framework and its public release on 28 February, Council was thanked for their input and advice which has assisted to shape the Framework.
  • Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation and the current Productivity Commission GST review: noted the current approach to Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation and the review currently underway, due to be handed to the Commonwealth Government on 15 May 2018. The Council noted the importance of this review to ensuring Commonwealth funding designated for Indigenous communities is actually spent by State and Territory Governments in those areas. Council requested ongoing briefings on this matter.
  • Community Safety: expressed concern towards the importance of ensuring communities are safe and agreed there should be zero tolerance for any form of violence towards children. The Council advocated a child centred, community driven approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians leading and taking responsibility for change, while being supported by primary, secondary and tertiary interventions, as most likely to be effective, noting the basis for success is a strong culture, strong families and strong economy. The Council considers Community Safety to be an ongoing priority for the Council. There was also strong support for the co-design approach and trial of the Youth Through Care model. Council emphasised the important role of culture as an enabling factor in this model.
  • Closing the Gap refresh: was strongly supported, with the caveat being that the new approach acknowledges the important role of states and territories in having greater ownership and responsibility around targets, including the development and monitoring of targets.  Members also emphasised that targets must developed and implemented with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and that they must be recognised as the experts in creating and driving change in our communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a meaningful role in developing and monitoring Closing the Gap targets.
  • Inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘style’ products’: expressed concern that Indigenous art is a very important source of income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and that an estimated annual value of $5.8 billion is put at risk by fake Indigenous products. The Council indicated support for mechanisms that gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians rights and interests and proactively prevented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from being misappropriated.

The Council is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and is the first point of contact: indigenousadvisorycouncil@pmc.gov.au. Media interviews with members can be arranged through the Secretariat.