National Congress of Australia's First Peoples

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has issued an open letter to the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbott seeking commitment to 10 key actions and principles that would deliver meaningful change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to possibly deliver a worthy legacy.

Congress has set out key steps for the Prime Minister to establish more meaningful partnerships with First Peoples leaders.

Congress co-chairs, Kirstie Parker and Les Malezer said Congress seeks to engage with all political parties and parliamentarians to advocate its member-led agenda.

“Congress is leading this action because our members are distressed by the cumulative damage caused by successive governments taking decision-making out of our hands,” Ms Parker said.

“Until we are able to be self-determining over our lives and lands, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will re-live the same bad public policy with new names.”

“We believe there is an opportunity now. Our peoples need strong and informed leadership, from political parties, parliamentarians and within our own community leaders on the big ticket issues that will impact for generations to come.”

Mr Malezer said the ten points had been articulated before but there had been little movement or success in governments listening to the collective experience and knowledge with First Peoples communities and making the necessary commitments.

“Congress has provided the Prime Minister with an agenda that matters for our families and communities,” he said.

“We ask the Prime Minister to implement Australia’s international human rights commitments; ensure substantive Constitutional recognition and reform is achieved; deliver guaranteed access and engagement with senior Ministers, the public service and parliament; and to work collaboratively with our own representative and governing bodies.”

“The Prime Minister’s response has the ability to frame a lasting legacy that will make a real difference to the lives of the First Peoples of Australia.”

The 10 points Congress would like the Prime Minister to consider:

  1. Present a statement of commitment by the Government to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Outcome Document of the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
  2. Require Ministers and Departmental Heads to issue reports on their portfolio obligations in the implementation of the ‘UN Declaration’ and ‘Outcome Document’,
  3. Take a leadership role towards genuine reform of the Constitution to recognise and respect the First Peoples of Australia.
  4. Establish formal procedures within the Parliament for pursuing the free, prior and informed consent of the First Peoples before adopting laws that directly impact upon our lives.
  5. Establish formal procedures within government including bureaucracies for pursuing the free, prior and informed consent of the First Peoples before adopting policies and procedures that directly impact upon our lives.
  6. To improve access to and engagement with the Parliament to build the social contract between the First Peoples and the Government.
  7. Convene, with the Treasurer, strategic meetings with peak organisations of our Peoples to review financial relationship for development.
  8. Convene, with the Treasurer, meetings with peak organisations of our Peoples as part of the Budget cycle.
  9. Attend the annual National Congress meeting with delegates to update, evaluate and review national governance policies and achievements.
  10. Include Congress in formalised meetings with intergovernmental meetings with States and Territories.