Skip to main content

Adelaide Workshop Report

 

National Indigenous Representative Body

Adelaide Workshop Report

11-13 March 2009
Stamford Glenelg,
Adelaide

 

word icon Download in Word [3.35MB]
pdf icon Download in PDF [1.61MB]


Note – Use of the terms ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander

peoples’ and ‘Indigenous peoples’

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
recognises the diversity of the cultures, languages, kinship structures and ways
of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There is not one
cultural model that fits all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples retain distinct cultural
identities whether they live in urban, regional or remote areas of
Australia.

Throughout this issues paper, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are
referred to as ‘peoples’. This recognises that Aboriginals and
Torres Strait Islanders have a collective, rather than purely individual,
dimension to their livelihoods.

On occasion, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also referred
to as ‘Indigenous peoples’. The use of the term
‘Indigenous’ has evolved through international law. It acknowledges
a particular relationship of aboriginal people to the territory from which they
originate. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has explained
the basis for recognising this relationship as follows:

Indigenous or Aboriginal peoples are so-called because they were living on
their lands before settlers came from elsewhere; they are the descendants
– according to one definition – of those who inhabited a country or
a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic
origins arrived, the new arrivals later becoming dominant through conquest,
occupation, settlement or other means... (I)ndigenous peoples have retained
social, cultural, economic and political characteristics which are clearly
distinct from those of the other segments of the national populations.

Throughout human history, whenever dominant neighbouring peoples have
expanded their territories or settlers from far away have acquired new lands by
force, the cultures and livelihoods – even the existence – of
indigenous peoples have been endangered.

The threats to indigenous peoples’ cultures and lands, to their status
and other legal rights as distinct groups and as citizens, do not always take
the same forms as in previous times. Although some groups have been relatively
successful, in most part of the world indigenous peoples are actively seeking
recognition of their identities and ways of
life.[1]

The Social Justice Commissioner acknowledges that there are differing usages
of the terms ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’,
‘Aboriginal’ and ‘indigenous’ within government policies
and documents. When referring to a government document or policy, we have
maintained the government’s language to ensure
consistency.


Contents

1. SUMMARY

2. BACKGROUND

3. WORKSHOP DISCUSSIONS

4. CONCLUSION

Glossary of Terms

Appendices

Appendix 1 - Steering Committee Biographies
Appendix
2 - Workshop Participants

Appendix 3 - Workshop Program
Appendix 4 - NIRB
Flowcharts from Workshop Sessions

Appendix 5 - Structure of Torres Strait
Regional Authority (TSRA)

Appendix 6 - ACT Indigenous Elected Body
(ACTIEB)


1. Summary of workshop outcomes

Background

In December 2008, the Australian Government requested the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner to convene an independent,
Steering Committee of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop a
preferred model for a national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples.

The Steering Committee is required to:

  • develop a preferred model for a new national Indigenous representative body
    for presentation to the Australian Government in July 2009;
  • make recommendations in regards to the establishment of an interim body from
    July 2009 which would operate until the finalised body takes effect; and
  • ensure strong community support for such a representative model.

This work follows on from the consultations and submissions process
conducted by the Government in 2008.

In January 2009, the Social Justice Commissioner invited Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander men and women to nominate to attend a national workshop
to guide the development of a new national Indigenous representative body. The
workshop was set for 11-13 March 2009 in Adelaide. The purpose of the workshop
was to:

  1. review submissions and the outcomes of consultations conducted by the
    Government to date on the establishment of a new representative body,
  2. identify the key elements or features of a new National Indigenous
    representative body which can then be distilled down to a series of preferred
    models for a new representative body, and
  3. identify a process for further consultation with Indigenous
    communities leading to the establishment of an interim representative body from
    July / August 2009.

The workshop was NOT intended to:

  • endorse a final model for a national representative body or
  • decide membership of a national representative body.

Through the plenary sessions, smaller working groups and an
electronic survey conducted at the workshop, it was possible to identify those
issues on which there was an emerging consensus among participants and those
issues where there remained divergent views or at least, a need for further
consultation. These are identified further below.

Terminology

At the outset of the workshop, it was acknowledged that there is a growing
debate about the appropriate terminology to be used when referring to Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples. While accepting the international context
for the term ‘indigenous’, participants in the workshop expressed a
strong preference for the phrase ’Indigenous peoples’ not to
be the primary descriptor used in the domestic Australian context. Preferences
were voiced for the following terminology:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
  • First nations or First peoples.

A majority of participants expressed their preference for the
phrase ‘First nations’ or ‘First peoples’.

A 20 year vision for the national representative body

Workshop participants expressed the desire for a national representative body
to contribute to generational change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples. Participants did not want, twenty years from now, for their children
and grandchildren to be in the position where they needed to have the same
discussions taking place at this workshop.

Participants identified that over the next 20 years, the national
representative body would have a leading role to play in achieving
constitutional recognition and a treaty, in closing the gap, and in Australia as
a country owning and facing up to its history. The representative body would
have contributed to a situation where our children are empowered, we are in
control of our own destiny, are culturally strong and proud, economically
independent and where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community/ies
are united and not wracked by internal division.

Participants described their vision for the representative body as follows.
In 20 years time, there is reciprocal respect between the representative body
and tribal nations. The national representative body:

  • is functioning effectively and efficiently;
  • is self-sufficient and self-determining;
  • is independently funded and free from government control or
    interference;
  • is an organization that embodies the principles of self-determination and
    human rights at every level;
  • has credibility and integrity in both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    and non-Indigenous communities and government;
  • is standing on its own feet;
  • is truly representative of the diverse makeup of Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander populations – gender, rural/ regional/ remote, youth;
  • utilizes and shares the diverse skill sets and expertise of our peoples;
  • has a role in development of policy for service delivery in a truly
    influential way;
  • is seen as a peak public body working at best standards for a public
    representative body;
  • provides pathways for education, employment and professional development of
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  • is accessible to grassroots people; and
  • is holding Government accountable for their obligations to Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander peoples as citizens.

Guiding principles for a new representative body

There was agreement among the workshop participants on the importance of the
national representative body pursuing the following objectives:

  • playing a leading role in forging a new partnership between Governments and
    Indigenous peoples;
  • ensuring Indigenous peoples contribute to and lead policy development on
    Indigenous issues;
  • ensure that an Indigenous perspective is provided on issues across
    government;
  • advocate for the recognition and protection of Indigenous peoples’
    rights;
  • ensure adequate accountability mechanisms exist for government’s
    performance in delivering services to Indigenous peoples and communities;
  • ensure that commitments to closing the gap are supported by long term action
    plans;
  • ensure and support good governance among Indigenous communities and
    organisations;
  • ensure the equal participation of Indigenous women in all of its decision
    making processes; and
  • ensure the equal participation of mainland Torres Strait Islanders.

There was also common agreement on the need for the national
representative body to operate in accordance with the highest standards of
ethical and moral conduct and to be open, transparent and accountable to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The adapted Nolan principles on public life (see below) were seen as setting
out behavioural expectations for members of the national representative
body.

Nolan Committee principles on public life

These principles relate to all aspects of public life. They were created by
the Nolan Committee for the benefit the public in any
way.[2]  These principles will
apply to all who are employed by the national Indigenous representative
body.

Eight Principles of Public Life

Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions
solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain
financial or other material benefit for themselves, their family, or their
friends.

Integrity
Holders of public office should not try to place
themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or
organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official
duties.

Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making
appointments, awarding contracts or recommending individuals for rewards or
benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their
decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever
scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Openness
Holders of public office should be as open as possible
about all the decisions and actions that they take. The holders of public office
should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the
wider public interest clearly demands.

Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any
private interests relating to their public duties and take steps to resolve any
conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support
these principles by leadership and example.

Behaviour
Holders of public office must exhibit at all times the
exemplary levels of personal and corporate behaviour.

The following key guiding principles were also identified for the national
representative body:

  • Accountability: to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and
    also of government to the national representative body. This involves
    transparency in operations and through effective communication /
    dissemination of information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    peoples;
  • Authority: This will come from representativeness of the body, and
    also from development of a strong evidence base;
  • Legitimacy: This will come from reflecting the diversity within
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – including issues
    relating to disability, mainland Torres Strait Islanders, geographic and
    cultural differences. It will also emerge from the body being representative and
    through advocating for the most vulnerable;
  • Partnership: with both government and industry as well as with
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, peak bodies and
    communities; and
  • Respect: for culture and for the cultural diversity within Aboriginal
    and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The importance of recognising and protecting Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples’ human rights was also emphasised. The UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
was identified as providing
the framework for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Groups commonly raised the need for gender equality in representation.

Social inclusion was also highlighted as a key principle with the
representative body playing a vital role in the education of the broader
Australian community and working for the benefit of all Australians towards
Reconciliation.

Roles and functions of a national representative body

There was common agreement among the workshop participants on the importance
of the national representative body having the following roles and
functions:

  • advocacy;
  • formulating policy and advising government;
  • reviewing government programs;
  • negotiating framework agreements with governments;
  • monitoring service delivery by governments;
  • conducting research and contributing to law reform processes; and
  • representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the
    international level.

The majority of workshop participants also agreed that the national
representative body should have the following roles and functions:

  • a coordination or ‘clearing house’ role to promote the sharing
    of information between Indigenous representative organisations and service
    delivery organisations; and
  • conducting facilitation and mediation services for Indigenous peoples.

Participants rated the following roles as the most important for a
national representative body to undertake:

  • advocacy;
  • monitoring government service delivery;
  • formulating policy and advice;
  • negotiating framework agreements with governments; and
  • reviewing government programs.

It was also noted that the representative body:

  • could work with the federal government in planning expenditure of state /
    territory funds for Indigenous affairs;
  • could be advised by peak bodies, and they could in turn be advised by the
    representative body;
  • should be able to commission new research, informed by Indigenous knowledge
    systems and research methods, and should set the vision based on the desires,
    needs, priorities and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    peoples; and
  • should take a lead role in promoting a positive image of Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander communities.

In relation to service delivery, it was commonly agreed that:

  • the representative body should not deliver services or
    programs;
  • it should set priorities for service delivery in consultation with
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and state / territory
    level representatives;
  • it should have a mandate to set targets to hold governments accountable;
    and
  • it could work with existing monitoring processes, as well as receive
    independent field reports from regional members or bodies.

Engaging with communities / representativeness

A majority of participants believed that the national representative body
should have structures at the national, state / territory and regional levels to
engage with Indigenous peoples.

A great majority of participants also agreed that it is essential for the
national representative body to have a direct relationship with regions and a
majority agreed that the organisation’s national membership should be
drawn from the regional level. While there was support for the organisation to
have a state / territory structure it was notably less than the support for a
regional structure. There was however strong support for the national
representative body to bring regional representatives together at the state /
territory level.

There was strongest support for the national representative body to engage
directly at a regional level. The overwhelming majority of participants believed
that:

  • The national representative body should include regional representative
    structures; and
  • Should convene regional forums on a regular basis.

A substantial majority of participants also believed that the
national representative body should:

  • enter into partnerships with governments at the regional level;
  • conduct regional planning or negotiate regional framework agreements;
    and
  • draw its national membership from the regional level.

A substantial majority of participants also believed that the
national representative body should:

  • bring regional representatives together at the state / territory level;
    and
  • convene state-wide planning forums.

The majority of participants also believed that the national
representative body should:

  • have a state / territory level structure; and
  • negotiate state-wide framework agreements with government.

There was strong support for the representative body to form
strategic alliances with peak bodies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
agencies and businesses. There was also support for non-Indigenous organisations
and NGOs to provide advice to the representative body on invitation.

Structure of the national representative body

There was strong support for the national representative body to be made up
of an equal number of men and women, and for members to have integrity, vision
and credibility, and to be required to adhere to a code of conduct.

There was also a strong view that members of the national representative body
should not be appointed by government.

There was, however, not a clearly preferred mechanism for members of the
representative body to be selected. There was mixed support for a direct
election model and alternatively for a delegate model. The majority of
participants, however, did not support peak bodies being able to directly
nominate representatives onto the national body.

The direct election model posed a dilemma as many participants felt that a
democratic process should be used, but that it did not always result in the most
qualified or suitable applicants being selected. Many participants preferred a
system that combined election with a merit selection process, so that applicants
were assessed as possessing the necessary skills prior to the election being
conducted. If an election model is used, participants generally preferred that
each state and territory should be given the opportunity to work out a system
that will work for them (and their regions) as a one size fits all approach may
not work.

There was mixed support for the idea of eminent Indigenous leaders selecting
representatives. Such a process would require an open, competitive and
transparent process.

Relationship to government and funding mechanisms

There was also support for the representative body to be established under
legislation and to report directly to Parliament – such as through a
statutory authority model. Similarly, there was support for the body to be a
non-government organisation such as through being a company limited by
guarantee. Participants were concerned to ensure that the body be sustainable
and have longevity beyond the political cycle.

Participants strongly expressed a view that while government funding would be
required for the establishment period of the national representative body it
needs to be able to operate independent from government. The idea of an
establishment fund to provide a capital base for the organisation received
strong support. Additionally there was a preference for the national Indigenous
representative body to identify funds nationally and internationally from the
philanthropic and corporate sector and that government funding should be used
for a defined establishment period.

A substantial majority of participants rated the following funding options as
important:

  • have a fund established to give the body a capital base (like the Indigenous
    Land Corporation);
  • receive (untied) government funding;
  • be established through a future fund financed through a percentage of mining
    tax receipts; and
  • gain charitable status to receive tax free donations.

Participants also identified the potential for the representative
body to charge membership fees or charge for delivery of goods and services.
However, the majority of participants did not see these options as important in
funding the representative body.

Issues where a consensus has begun to emerge

Major areas of consensus from workshop participants included:

  • Principles guiding the formation of the representative body and behavioural
    standards to be applied to members of the body;
  • The roles and functions of the representative body (including that the
    representative body not undertake a service delivery role);
  • Ensuring the equal participation of men and women as representatives;
  • Ensuring that there are mechanisms in place to ensure the participation of
    groups that are generally marginalised such as young people, people with
    disabilities, members of the stolen generation and mainland Torres Strait
    Islanders;
  • Ensuring that there is representation of the diversity of Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander peoples based on gender, geographical locations,
    relationship to country and cultural diversity;
  • That the representative body be self-determining and that it operate
    independently of government influence (including through how the governance of
    the body is structured, and by receiving untied or discretionary recurrent
    funding);
  • That all representative body members are Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait
    Islanders and there is a clear process to verify identity;
  • Selection of new representative body representatives must be transparent,
    with a selection process determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    people and selections based on set criteria that includes identifying the
    specific and appropriate skills required.

Issues requiring further consideration

Issues on which no clear consensus emerged during the workshop included:

  • whether the national representative body should use a delegate or direct
    election model, and the role of merit selection in either model;
  • how a panel of eminent Indigenous peers would operate in any selection
    process (if at all);
  • issues relating to structure of the national representative body and how it
    would engage at the regional and states/territory level; and
  • further details on the qualities and skills required for the national
    representative body leadership. This is to inform the development of selection
    criteria if a merit based selection process is used.

^top

2. BACKGROUND

In December 2008, the Australian Government requested Tom Calma, the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the
Australian Human Rights Commission to convene an independent Steering Committee
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop a preferred model for
a national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples.

The Steering Committee is required to:

  • convene an Indigenous Peoples Workshop in March 2009, with a possible second
    workshop in June 2009
  • develop a preferred model for a new national Indigenous representative body
    for presentation to the Australian Government in July 2009
  • make recommendations in regards to the establishment of an interim body from
    July 2009 which would operate until the finalised body takes effect, and
  • ensure strong community support for such a representative model.

This work follows on from the consultations and submissions process
conducted by the government in 2008. Information about the Steering Committee
members is contained in Appendix 1 of this report.

In January 2009, the Social Justice Commissioner invited Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander men and women to nominate to attend a national workshop
to guide the development of a new national Indigenous representative body. The
workshop was set for 11-13 March 2009 in Adelaide.

The purpose of the workshop was to:

  1. Review submissions and the outcomes of consultations conducted by the
    Government to date on the establishment of a new representative body,
  2. Identify the key elements or features of a new national Indigenous
    representative body which can then be distilled down to a series of preferred
    models for a new representative body, and
  3. Identify a process for further consultation with Indigenous
    communities leading to the establishment of an interim representative body from
    July / August 2009.

The workshop was NOT intended to:

  • Endorse a final model for a national representative body or
  • Decide membership of a national representative body.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and
Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) established a dedicated unit to provide
administrative support to the Social Justice Commissioner and the Steering
Committee. Applications for the workshop were received by this support unit in
FaHCSIA on behalf of the Steering Committee. All administrative arrangements for
the workshop – including venue hire and catering, flying and accommodating
all participants – was organised by FAHCSIA. All decisions relating to the
convening of the workshop and selection of participants was then determined
independently by the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee convened the workshop on 11-13 March 2009 in
Adelaide. The Workshop was limited to 100 people from across Australia.
All participants were required to submit an application form. Applicants could
self-nominate (with two written references) or be nominated by someone else.

The Steering Committee selected participants from a mix of urban, regional,
rural and remote localities and were mindful of including different age groups
and ensuring there was an equal number of men and women invited. 100
participants were selected out of a pool of 267 applications received.
Approximately 40 applications were received after the closing date and were not
considered.

All participants were selected based on merit. Selection criteria for
applicants included that they:

  • be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be nominated by an Indigenous community organisation or self
    nominated with two written references supporting the nomination
  • have demonstrated leadership capacity and ability to take part in high level
    discussions on strategic issues
  • be able to communicate and interact effectively with a diverse range of
    people
  • have demonstrated capacity to represent views and interests
  • be able to make a positive and considered contribution to the discussions
    and deliberations on the establishment of the new national Indigenous
    representative body, and
  • be available to attend and participate in the program and events for the
    entire workshop.

A list of workshop participants is included as Appendix 2.

The workshop occurred over 3 days at the Stamford Glenelg in Adelaide from
Wednesday 11 March to Friday 13 March. A pre-briefing and welcome dinner was
held for participants on the evening of Tuesday 10 March.

The workshop was structured according to the sets of issues outlined in the
issues paper released by the Social Justice Commissioner in July 2008 and titled Building a sustainable National Indigenous Representative Body – Key
issues
. There was a mix of plenary discussions and smaller working group
discussions over the three days. Participants also divided into thematic groups
(youth, Torres Strait Islanders, Northern Territory Group and others regarding
the NT Intervention) and representatives from their respective states and
territories, for additional sessions outside the workshop program. For a copy of
the Workshop Program please refer to Appendix 3.

Workshop participants were also encouraged to participate in an online survey
during the course of the workshop to establish at a broad level where agreement
exists on key issues.

The workshop was chaired by Mr Tom Calma and Dr Jackie Huggins of the
Steering Committee. Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue was invited to be the patron of
the workshop in recognition of her substantial contribution in building
national representative mechanisms in the past and her leadership on Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander policy at the national level.

Three facilitators (Mr Justin Noel, Ms Kerry Arabena and Ms Sharon Kinchela)
were selected to manage the workshop process. All facilitators are Aboriginal or
Torres Strait Islander people. The facilitators were asked to drive the process
towards consensus positions over the three days, to inform future consultations
by enabling them to target those aspects where there was not consensus and a
need for broad community consideration of the issues.

Photo: Workshop patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, with members of
the Steering Committee (Dr Jackie Huggins, Mr Tom Calma, Dr Mark Bin-Bakar, Ms
Nala Mansell-McKenna, Ms Yananymul Mununggurr, Mr Jason Glanville and Mr John
(Toshi) Kris), Expert advisor to the committee, Professor Mick Dodson and
Steering Committee secretariat (Ms Josephine Bourne and Mr Darren Dick). Absent:
Ms Tanya Hosch, Mr Tim Goodwin, Mr Geoff Scott and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks.

2. DAY ONE: WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 2009

Session 1: Setting the scene

In the opening session of the workshop, the scene was set by Traditional
Owner Uncle Lewis O’Brien, The Honourable Minister Jenny Macklin,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, and
South Australian Aboriginal Social Engagement Commissioner Klynton
Wanganeen.

We saw the pride and strength of the culture of the Kaurna people, as we were
welcomed onto their lands.

Both Minister Macklin and Commissioner Calma set out the process as it will
unfold over the coming months – culminating in a report by Commissioner
Calma and the Steering Committee to the Minister in July 2009 recommending a
model for a new national representative body and recommending a process (and
potentially nominees) for an interim representative body.

It was noted that the process is being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples and independent of the government by Commissioner Calma and the
Steering Committee. And it was noted that there is no pre-determined outcome for
the process. This workshop, in fact, forms a centrepiece of the second and final
round of consultations leading to the proposal of a model to the government.

Minister Macklin confirmed the government’s hope that the national
representative body will come into being by the end of 2009. Commissioner Calma
challenged us to focus on how ‘we expedite the representative body coming
into being within a relatively short timeframe while also being able to involve
our communities’. And he noted that every day without a national
representative body is of ‘critical concern’.

Minister Macklin expressed her hopes for a new national representative body
as:

  • being a place where divergent views can come to the table ;
  • Being a voice for the most powerless;
  • Providing a platform for new partnerships;
  • Dealing with the serious, entrenched marginalisation and disadvantage
    experienced among our communities; and
  • Influencing the way non-Indigenous peoples understand the challenges facing
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Minister Macklin also
noted that creating a new representative body is going to require a concerted
effort with a willingness to work together and do things differently.

Commissioner Calma then set the challenge for a new representative body as
achieving ‘two way’ accountability – to government and to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

He talked of the ‘gap’ between the expectations from the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of what a national
representative body should do and what government is prepared to support and
work with. He identified as a challenge ‘closing the gap’ between
the expectations of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
in order to avoid the credibility problems of previous bodies, to ensure that it
has influence with government and is an effective agent of change for
communities.

Commissioner Calma also noted that the representative body will come into
being at a time where there have been rapid advances in the recognition of the
rights of Indigenous peoples internationally. In particular, he referred to the
adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2007. The
Declaration includes the following relevant articles:

Article 18 - Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in
decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through
representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as
well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous institutions.

Article 19 - States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the
indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in
order to obtain free, prior and informed consent before adopting and
implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Commissioner Calma challenged participants to be very specific about what we
want from a national representative body so we can move beyond the general
principles and agreement that already exists. He noted the collective wisdom
that exists among the people attending the workshop to meet this challenge.

Commissioner Wanganeen then set out the challenges that have existed in South
Australia since the abolition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission. He noted the limits of his existing role as Community Engagement
Commissioner in terms of resource constraints and not having a legislative basis
for this role. He identified as critical that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities and the general population have an understanding of the
actual roles and functions of a representative body.

Commissioner Wanganeen reminded us of the importance of having your say in
this process when he said: “say what you want or be prepared to accept
what you are given.”

At the outset of the workshop, it was also acknowledged that there is a
growing debate about the appropriate terminology to be used when referring to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. While accepting the international
context for the term ‘indigenous’, participants in the workshop
expressed a strong preference for the phrase’ indigenous peoples’ not to be the primary descriptor used in the domestic Australian context.
Preferences were voiced for the following terminology:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
  • First nations or First peoples.

A majority of participants in the workshop expressed a preference
for ‘First nations’ or ‘first peoples’.

Session 2: Lessons from the past and the outcomes of consultations to
date

Workshop Patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue shared her reflections on her
long and distinguished involvement in national representative bodies. She spoke
some hard truths about ethical and behavioural standards within ATSIC, nepotism
and other issues. She also told a cautionary tale about making a representative
body ‘too big’ and unmanageable, as she believes had happened with
ATSIC (particularly in its early years). And she spoke very tellingly about the
personal toll and burden of leadership. Dr O’Donoghue requested that her
specific comments remain confidential to the workshop participants and are not
expanded on here.

Geoffrey Richardson from the Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs provided a summary of the outcomes of
consultations conducted by the government on the national representative body
from July – November 2008. This included:

  • 17 x Regional workshops
  • 40 x Community workshops and consultations
  • 20 x meetings with peak bodies and organisations
  • A comprehensive mail-out to 2300 organisations on the ORIC mailing list
  • Initial consultations with State/Territory Governments officials
  • A public submission process, which received 106 submissions by the closing
    date
  • Consultations with several hundred participants in the FAHCSIA Indigenous
    Leadership Program.

He noted that the Government has not dictated to Indigenous people
what we should or shouldn’t have as our Representative Body. The
Government did provide a series of broad Principles to guide the consultations.
These set out the characteristics the Government would prefer to see in the
Representative Body that it wishes to engage with to assist it meet its
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs objectives. These included:

  • Urban, regional, remote representation – recognising the great
    diversity of circumstances of Indigenous peoples
  • Not necessarily conducting separate elections
  • Not another ATSIC – this point relates to the structure of
    ATSIC. The Government does not wish to create another ATSIC structure which
    had:

    • Originally 800 elected officials later reduced to 388; 60 Regional Councils
      later reduced to 35 plus the TSRA; 17-20 full-time Commissioners plus 35
      full-time Regional Council Chairs, plus offices, Personal Assistants; support
      staff; vehicles
  • Preferably not a Service Delivery Role – the administration of
    Indigenous Affairs has changed significantly since the abolition of ATSIC. The
    changes include:

    • All Indigenous Programs distributed to mainstream Departments/Agencies
      (including functions to IBA and ILC)
    • An emphasis on Whole of Government approach; improving access to mainstream
      Programs; Agreement making
    • Emphasis on partnerships with State and Territory Governments

The key messages that emerged from the consultations in
2008 were:

  • Widespread support for a new Representative Body
  • The need to extend the consultation period
  • Preference for the use of the terms Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    rather than Indigenous
  • No major support for a Service Delivery role
  • The need for security of tenure and funding for the body.

There was also consistent support for a new representative
body:

  • To have transparency in its operations
  • have clearly defined roles and functions
  • to conduct training for members
  • to play a key role in negotiating:
    • designated seats in Parliament
    • Constitutional recognition
    • a Treaty or Treaties.

In terms of the roles and functions of the body, there
was support for it to have the following roles:

  • Advocacy – domestically and internationally
  • Monitoring & evaluation
  • Advisory role to Government/Industry
  • A consultation role with communities
  • A linking role (organisations and communities)
  • Research
  • Mediation services
  • Legislation (overseeing role)

In terms of structure, there was support for the body to have
gender balance, representation from urban, rural and remote communities and
Torres Strait Islander representation. While there was strong support for the
body to be independent of Government, there was divided support between a
statutory authority model and a private non-government model.

There was also support for the body to have a tiered structure (with
community, regional, state, national level engagement), and also support for a
streamlined national structure, regional bodies and for the national
representative body to have membership on COAG and Ministerial Councils.

There was also mixed support for the selection of members of a representative
body. Preferences included the following methods:

  • a general election
  • an application process
  • direct appointments
  • a membership process
  • drawing members from existing peak bodies
  • combinations of the above.

In terms of the skills and values possessed by members of the
representative body, it was commonly raised that Members should:

  • possess appropriate skills and/or experience to fulfil the functions
  • demonstrate trust, integrity, honesty
  • be subject to a code of conduct.

The consultations also identified that the national representative
body needs a sustainable funding source. There was support for Government
funding to be provided, and also for other options such as a percentage of GDP
and other tax options being built into the funding model, and for the body to
charge membership and subscription fees.

Mr Richardson noted the challenges that will exist for the representative
body, if it is to be operational within the year. This includes building it,
establishing its membership base, facilitating staffing, offices, systems and
logistics. If it is a statutory model, all of this will need to be passed
through parliament as well.

He also noted that the representative body will have a major role to play
in:

  • Working with government to improve policies, programs & service delivery
    to support community self-reliance
  • Building community consensus on key issues affecting Aboriginal & Torres
    Strait Islander peoples
  • Maintaining and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture,
    languages & traditions, whilst enabling full exercise of economic, social
    and legal rights
  • Ensuring Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people are represented in
    discussions & debates on national issues.

^top

3. WORKSHOP DISCUSSIONS

Following the introductory plenary sessions, the workshop was divided into
smaller workshop groups. Each group recorded their discussion on a computer and
provided this to the conference organisers at the end of each session. In some
sessions, workshop participants created flowcharts or other diagrammatic
representations of what a national representative body might look like. These
are attached as Appendix 4. The Steering Committee has sought to reflect
the main themes of discussion that emerged in the workshops as follows.

^top

3.1 20 Year Vision

In the initial workshop session, participants were asked to reflect on the
lessons from the past and also to identify a vision for what they would like to
see a national representative body achieve in 20 years time. A selection of
comments from the workshops is included in the text box below.

20 Years from Now:

  • - Australia as a country has owned its history – good and bad, right
    and wrong;
  • - The gap has been closed;
  • - We have achieved constitutional recognition and a treaty
  • - Our children are empowered;
  • - We are in control of our own destiny – making decisions for our
    people by our people;
  • - We are culturally strong and proud
  • - We are economically independent
  • - The community is united and not wracked by internal division
‘In 20 years time, we don’t want our grand kids
having to undertake this same discussion.’

In 20 years time, the National Representative Body:

  • is functioning effectively and efficiently;
  • It is self-sufficient and self-determining;
  • is independently funded and free from government control or
    interference.
  • Is an organization that embodies the principles of self-determination and
    human rights at every level
  • Has credibility and integrity in both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    and non-Indigenous communities and government
  • Is standing on its own feet:
    • Sustainable
    • Independent
    • Self sufficient
    • Minimal reliance on Government
    • Structurally/administratively as well as financially
    • Structure that leaves decision making with Aboriginal/Torres Strait
      Islander people.
  • Is truly representative of the diverse makeup of Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander population – gender, rural/regional/remote, youth.
  • Utilizes and shares the diverse skill sets and expertise of our peoples.
  • Has a role in development of policy for service delivery in a truly
    influential way. Not tokenistic “consultation”. This may be through
    Parliamentary involvement or membership to Ministerial/COAG bodies.

    • Influence with Federal Cabinet
    • Monitoring of services delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait
      Islander people
    • Strong relationships with State Governments in the
      development
  • Is seen as a peak public body working at best standards for a public
    representative body.
  • Provides pathways for education, employment and professional development of
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (including for working within
    Government)
  • Is accessible to grassroots people, that they feel some ownership of and is
    there to truly represent their needs and take their local issues to higher
    levels for action, as well as regional, State, and national
  • Is linked with other organisations and services
  • Is not just working with Governments but also with private sector
    stakeholders through good policy, advocacy and consultation.
  • Is holding Government accountable for their obligations to Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander peoples as citizens
  • Advocates on the basis of research in key areas - recognising that research
    guides good policy development
In 20 years time, there is reciprocal respect between the
representative body and tribal nations.

^top

3.2 Guiding Principles for a new national representative body

There was agreement among the workshop participants on the importance of the
national representative body pursuing the following objectives:

  • Playing a leading role in forging a new partnership between Governments and
    Indigenous peoples;
  • Ensuring Indigenous peoples contribute to and lead policy development on
    Indigenous issues;
  • Ensure that an Indigenous perspective is provided on issues across
    government;
  • Advocate for the recognition and protection of Indigenous peoples’
    rights;
  • Ensure adequate accountability mechanisms exist for government’s
    performance in delivering services to Indigenous peoples and communities;
  • Ensure that commitments to closing the gap are supported by long term action
    plans;
  • Ensure and support good governance among Indigenous communities and
    organisations;
  • Ensure the equal participation of Indigenous women in all of its decision
    making processes; and
  • Ensure the equal participation of mainland Torres Strait Islanders.

The small working groups in the workshop considered the following
question:

What principles should guide the formation of a new national Indigenous
representative body?

Words that came up commonly in group discussions to describe principles of a
new body included:

  • accountability,
  • integrity;
  • legitimacy;
  • partnership / collaboration;
  • independence;
  • transparency; and
  • sustainable.

These principles were identified as inter-related.

Accountability is to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,
and also of government to the national representative body. This involves
transparency in operations and through effective communication /
dissemination of information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples.

It was noted that the Representative Body will undoubtedly be placed under
greater scrutiny than many other bodies. As such, needs to be transparent and
accountable.

Authority needed to hold government accountable: authority will come
from representativeness of body, and also from development of evidence base
(such as through research and consultation capacity) so can input on issues
across all areas of policy (not just those narrowly defined as Indigenous
issues). There is a role for peak bodies in providing advice as experts to the
representative body.

Importance of human rights –the importance of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
was noted as well as
other international instruments such as the new International Convention on
Persons with Disabilities.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was identified as
providing the framework for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples.

The role of the representative body in advocating for the vulnerable was
highlighted – be it for children, women and the elderly; and in the fight
against poverty.

Some groups also raised the issue of treaty negotiations being undertaken by
the representative body, and also advocate for sovereignty to be recognised.

Legitimacy will come from reflecting the diversity within Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Communities – including issues relating to
disability, mainstream Torres Strait Islanders, geographic and cultural
differences; as well as being representative.

Several groups reflected on the importance of respect for culture and the
importance of recognising cultural diversity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples, including:

  • Recognition of law and culture and its role in maintaining cohesion among
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  • Importance of preserving and protecting cultural practices, laws and
    languages;
  • Continuing to pursue Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’
    rights to lands, sea and waterways, and to support traditional owners to carry
    out their obligations;
  • Protecting traditional knowledge

Groups commonly raised the need for gender equality in
representation.

Many groups referred to the importance of partnership – under
this heading the following issues were mentioned:

  • Importance of respect for rights,
  • Proactive relationship rather than having the agenda set by government,
  • Based on respect for cultural protocols;
  • Relationships with government and industry;
  • To assist in healing the damage imposed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander peoples since colonisation, in partnership with mainstream;
  • Educative role for non-Indigenous peoples.

Some groups also emphasised that the national representative body
will operate for the common good / benefit of all Australians – contribute
to social inclusion and reconciliation.
During this session, groups also
identified the importance of principles on ethical behaviour as circulated by
the Steering Committee. These included an adapted list of the Nolan Committee
Principles[3], and Key Principles
& Values created by participants at the National Indigenous Leaders Meeting
held in Adelaide on 11-14 June 2004. These principles are reproduced here.

Nolan Committee principles on public life

These principles relate to all aspects of public life, they were created by
the Nolan Committee for the benefit the public in any way.  These
principles will apply to all who are employed by the national Indigenous
representative body.
Eight Principles of Public Life
Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions
solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain
financial or other material benefit for themselves, their family, or their
friends.
Integrity
Holders of public office should not try to place
themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or
organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official
duties.
Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making
appointments, awarding contracts or recommending individuals for rewards or
benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their
decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever
scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness
Holders of public office should be as open as possible
about all the decisions and actions that they take. The holders of public office
should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the
wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any
private interests relating to their public duties and take steps to resolve any
conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support
these principles by leadership and example.
Behaviour
Holders of public office must exhibit at all times the
exemplary levels of personal and corporate behaviour.
National Indigenous Leaders Meeting - Adelaide, 11-14 June
2004
Key Principles & Values for a National Indigenous Representative
Body and a National inclusive process
1. We the Indigenous People of Australia and we alone have the right
to
determine who represents us locally, regionally, nationally &
internationally.
2. We are determined to establish a sustainable independent
National
Indigenous Representative Body that reflects the aspirations and
values of
our peoples.
3. The national Indigenous representative body needs to gain its
legitimacy
from our people.
4. Any process to establish a national Indigenous representative body
must
acknowledge who we are, honour our diversity and commit to
inclusive
processes for all our people.
5. Our national Indigenous representative body must be open,
transparent
and accountable to the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander
peoples.
6. We respect and are committed to the right of our peoples to make
free
and informed choices for them, their families and communities.
7. We have an obligation to respect and protect our right to
self-determination,
our human rights, our humanity, our First Peoples' status
and our inherent rights that flow from that status.
8. We have a duty to pursue social justice & economic development for
all
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

9. Our duty is to leave a lasting legacy for our grandchildren's
grandchildren.

^top

3.3 Roles and Functions of a new national representative body

Participants were divided into groups to consider different potential roles
for a new representative body. The specific issues for consideration were:

What should be the roles and functions of a new body?

  1. Advocacy?
  2. Forming policy and advising government?
  3. Law reform?
  4. Reviewing government programs/legislation – or monitoring/evaluation?
  5. Reviewing government service delivery?
  6. Coordination?
  7. The international arena?
  8. Research?
  9. Facilitation and mediation?
  10. Other roles? Eg. communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    communities and the wider public

How could the National Indigenous Representative Body have a say
in program delivery without delivering services?
Should it:

  1. Set priorities for service delivery?
  2. Contribute to planning processes?
  3. Monitor government service delivery?

In relation to service delivery, it was commonly agreed that:

  • The representative body should not deliver services;
  • It should set priorities for service delivery in consultation with
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and state / territory
    level representatives;
  • It should have a mandate to set targets to hold governments accountable
    – including establishing baseline data for setting priorities, with
    ‘scrutiny of government performance at state and territory and national
    level an important role that a representative body could play’
  • It could work with existing monitoring processes, as well as receive
    independent field reports from regional members or bodies, but to perform this
    role well, it would need some investigative authority.

There was common agreement among the workshop participants on the
importance of the national representative body having the following roles and
functions:

  • Advocacy;
  • Formulating policy and advising government;
  • Reviewing government programs;
  • Negotiating agreements / frameworks with government;
  • Monitoring service delivery by governments;
  • Conducting research and contributing to law reform processes; and
  • Representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the
    international level.

The majority of workshop participants also agreed that the national
representative body should have the following roles and functions:

  • A coordination or ‘clearing house’ role to promote the sharing
    of information between Indigenous representative organisations and service
    delivery organisations; and
  • Conducting facilitation and mediation services for Indigenous peoples.

Participants rated the following roles as the most important for a
national representative body to undertake:

  • Advocacy;
  • Monitoring government service delivery;
  • Formulating policy and advice;
  • Negotiating framework agreements with governments; and
  • Reviewing government programs.

Some groups expressed concern that an advocacy role is inconsistent
with developing policy. It was also suggested that the representative body could
work with federal government in planning expenditure of state / territory funds
for Indigenous affairs.

Peak bodies could act in an advisory capacity to the representative body, and
also be advised by the representative body. It was suggested that the
representative body should develop a framework to work with peak bodies and
should facilitate building relationships with other bodies.

In relation to the international arena, it was noted that:

  • There are a range of developments / processes for engagement – such
    as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Expert mechanism on the Rights
    of Indigenous Peoples, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, human
    rights treaties, Human Rights Council and Special Rapporteur on Indigenous
    Issues
  • Secretariat support is required for the coordination of international
    engagement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • There currently exists an Indigenous Peoples Organisations network,
    coordinated by the Australian Human Rights Commission – but that this
    needs to be adequately resourced for a coordination role.

In terms of a research role, it was noted that:

  • The representative body should be able to commission new research,
    informed by Indigenous knowledge systems and research methods
  • Should set the vision based on the desires, needs, priorities and
    aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Should establish a new framework / national standards in conduct of
    research on and for Indigenous peoples
  • And should share the outcomes of research with communities.

In terms of a role in facilitation and mediation, it was noted that
such a role could include supporting and responding to critical issues –
e.g. Palm Island.

It was also noted that the national representative body should take a lead
role in promoting a positive image of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Communities.

^top

3.4 National Representative Body Engagement with Regions and
State/Territories

Participants had the opportunity to choose which discussion they wanted to
contribute to in relation to how a new National Representative Body might engage
with states, territories and regions. Each group considered one of the following
questions:

Should the National Indigenous Representative Body be a national-level
structure or include state/ territory and/ or regional structures?

How might a new body engage with Indigenous peoples at a regional level? Should it:

  1. Include regional representation as a formal part of its structure?
  2. Hold regular regional forums?
  3. Conduct these itself, or in partnership with governments?
  4. Engage through some other process?

How should the new body engage with Indigenous peoples at the
state/ territory level?
Should it:

  1. Draw its membership from regional representative bodies?
  2. Link in other ways?

A majority of participants believed that the national
representative body should have structures at the national, state/territory and
regional levels to engage with Indigenous peoples.

There was strongest support for the national representative body to engage
directly at a regional level. The overwhelming majority of participants believed
that:

  • The national representative body should include regional representative
    structures; and
  • Should convene regional forums on a regular basis.

A substantial majority of participants also believed that the
national representative body should:

  • Enter into partnerships with governments at the regional level;
  • Conduct regional planning or negotiate regional framework agreements;
    and
  • Draw its national membership from the regional level.

A substantial majority of participants also believed that the
national representative body should:

  • Bring regional representatives together at the state/territory level;
    and
  • Convene state-wide planning forums.

The majority of participants also believed that the national
representative body should:

  • Have a state/territory level structure; and
  • Negotiate statewide framework agreements with government.

Common themes from the discussion on Regional
Engagement

Some participants prefer that the national body deal directly with regions
and that a regional elected member(s) be the interface between local
communities, and the national representative body. In this particular
arrangement it was suggested that community forums and monthly meetings be
convened in communities to allow for information exchanged between community and
the regional representative(s). It was also suggested that this arrangement
would include local working parties to local knowledge and expertise.

Also highlighted in discussion is the need for recognition of cultural
/traditional ward systems. In this discussion about how regions might be
determined the following suggestions were put forward:

  • Indigenous Coordination Centre (ICC) boundaries or traditional
    boundaries

e.g.: Bio-regions

  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
    Regions
  • Existing boundaries in states and territories
  • Look at existing structures e.g.: land councils
  • Tindale Map – Language groups
  • Or a combination of the above

Participants agreed that regional representatives should be
selected from the local level through a democratic process, selecting local
leaders onto regional councils either through election or from peak bodies such
as the Aboriginal Medical Services. If an election model is used it was
suggested that compulsory voting aligned with the Australian electoral roll
should take place.

Discussions also emphasised the need for engagement “at the grass roots
level”. To ensure that everyone is included in decision making the
utilisation of a broad range of communication technology was suggested. It was
also proposed that to specifically target youth engagement there be use of
electronic surveys, school electronic taps, better relationships with schools
and technologies such as SMS and social networking sites etc.

Another view during this discussion was that the regional representation
should not be an amalgamation of peak bodies such as Legal Services, Land
Councils and Aboriginal Health Services.

In addition, there was a general feeling that Indigenous Coordination Centres
(ICCs) are not working and some people reported that ICCs do not visit their
communities and they were perceived to have a “Mission Manager”
mentality. The shared perception is that the ICCs are “middle men”
and women who report back to the Federal Government and the preference is for a
direct dialogue between regions and Federal Government by Indigenous peoples.

Common themes from the discussion on State/Territory
Engagement

Discussion included the idea of drawing State representatives from regional
representative bodies. It was noted that there are existing structures in states
and territories and there will need to be a mechanism to engage them
Western
Australia has state-wide justice forums which have Aboriginal people and
government working together at state, regional and local level; it was suggested
that this model be looked at for best practice.

In comparison, concerns were raised about a number of state level advisory
bodies being appointed or based on regions as defined by the state government
and not being set up in a way that engages Indigenous people’s and
communities. This was identified as an issue in many states and territories.

The role of existing regional or state-wide structures was discussed. For
example:

  • In the Torres Strait Islands, the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is
    an Australian Government Statutory Authority under the Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander Act 2005. There are also Torres Strait Regional Councils in the
    area; and existing relationships with peak bodies in health and education. For
    more information on the structure of the Torres Strait Regional Authority refer
    to Appendix 5.
  • The ACT has established an Indigenous Elected Body in the last year.
    Canberra’s Aboriginal population has direct relationships with government
    and are currently looking at how it would link in to the National Representative
    Body. The current Aboriginal body has 2 years remaining in its term. For more
    information on the role and functions of the ACT Indigenous Elected Body
    (ACTIEB) refer to Appendix 6.

It was also noted that peak bodies have differing processes for
their membership and most are centred on service delivery and not necessarily
policy and advocacy. There are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not
involved in peaks who have valuable contributions to make.

In the event that regional structures are established states and territories
have to be able to negotiate how they are established in their own jurisdiction
to ensure the structure meets their individual circumstances.

Discussions also reflected that communities usually put forward people who
they have faith in, it is important that representatives have the appropriate
and adequate level of skill required to carry out the work. In addition it is
essential that qualified and knowledgeable people are on the selection panel who
can make objective decisions to minimise nepotism.

There was a strong focus on building on the existing structures at a regional
and state level, and also on providing an opportunity for the participation and
representation of Non Government Organisations through a State Congress. This
congress could inform the state and territory body of activities happening
amongst Non Government Organisations; membership could be drawn from state
bodies and representation can be draw from peaks.

Issues relating to the structure of a national representative body

Each workshop group considered the following question:

  1. What should the structure of a National Indigenous Representative Body
    look like?
    Should it:

    1. Be based on a delegate model, nominated by regional and state/ territory
      levels of the body?
    2. Have a direct election model, where Indigenous peoples elect
      representatives?
    3. Involve Indigenous peak bodies and maybe others to nominate representatives?
    4. Have Indigenous bodies participate in an advisory capacity?
    5. Have positions on the national body for different Indigenous community
      groups?
    6. Have equal numbers of Indigenous men and women?
    7. Allow non-Indigenous organisations to participate as advisors?
    8. Be chosen by a panel of eminent Indigenous peers?
    9. Be structured in another way? For example, youth participation and
      elders.

Some common themes and discussion in workshops included
the following.

(a). Be based on a delegate model, nominated by regional and
state/territory levels of the body?

  • Local selection process that feeds into a regional selection process that
    feeds into a state/territory process that feeds into the national rep body
  • National Rep Body members should not be ministerially appointed.
  • Possessing a formal qualification should not be a pre-requisite however a
    possible representative should possess the ability and to undertake any
    necessary training or receive some training on how to do the job as part of a
    development pathway
  • A Dual system: Direct election + appointed/merit selection should be
    utilised

(b). Have a direct election model, where Indigenous peoples elect
representatives?

    • Whether people must meet special selection criteria before they are able
      to nominate through an established pre-selection process. This might include
      criterion such as demonstrating high ethical standards (such as commitment to
      the Nolan principles outlined earlier in this report) and looking at an
      individual’s professional and personal history.
    • While it is recognised that an election process gives Aboriginal and
      Torres Strait Islander peoples a chance to have their say (through voting) not
      all people are keen on the electoral process as it hasn’t always worked in
      the past and has encouraged nepotism
    • Concern with voting - Big families Vs Small families
    • If an election model is used states should be given the opportunity to
      work out a system that will work for them (and their regions) as a one size fits
      all approach may not work
    • Compulsory voting – some suggested doing it through mainstream other
      groups pointed out that “a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
      people do not vote in general election”. If we look at compulsory voting
      – why can’t we look at another way of doing this? Process of
      registration for voting a year before – NIRB to create a register- not
      straight off the electoral role.
    • other models such as ACT model of representative selection/ election may
      be an option
    • A Dual system: Direct election + appointed/merit selection utilised

(c). Involve Indigenous peak bodies and maybe others to nominate
representatives?

    • Some (but not broad) support for peak bodies to have a representative on
      the national body and for them to be able to nominate representatives for the
      national body
    • NIRB should negotiate the terms of the relationship with peak bodies but
      be very clear about its terms
    • Peak bodies have a relationship with the national representative body in
      some shape or form

(d). Have Indigenous bodies participated in an advisory capacity?

    • Agreement for Indigenous bodies to have communication with the national
      rep body
    • Government’s already have a number of mechanisms already in
      place
    • Structure needs to be more complex than just liaising with Indigenous
      bodies
    • National rep body to outsource information/data from external sources when
      needed

(e). Have positions on the national body for different Indigenous
community groups?

    • Suggestion for an appointment process to fill the gaps in expertise on the
      NIRB
    • May be difficult to select what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
      groups should be represented

(f). Have equal numbers of Indigenous men and women?

    • Very strong support for this – was seen as possible without
      compromising the quality of the members ultimately selected

(g). Allow non-Indigenous organisations to participate as
advisors?

    • Everyone in favour of this, as information/data needs to be obtained under
      certain circumstances
    • Exclusive make-up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the
      national rep body, but they will seek information from non-Indigenous
      organisations when and as needed

(h). Be chosen by a panel of eminent Indigenous
peers?

  • Mixed support for the idea of eminent peers selecting
    representatives
  • The eminent Indigenous peers must be selected appropriately for their
    experience and expertise. Some suggestions that the Social Justice Commissioner
    at AHRC have a role in this.
  • Some groups reflected support for this approach, and noted that the
    Steering Committee did a great job in selecting the 100 participants for this
    workshop as an example of how it could work
  • Selection criteria must be created for nominees to be selected from
  • Needs to be an open, competitive and transparent selection process

(i). Be structured in another way? For example, youth participation and
elders.

- NIRB will need to ensure that it is represented by a
diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander without compromising the
quality of representatives. Ensure representation of the following groups:

  • Disabilities
  • Youth
  • Regional/rural/remote
  • Stolen generations
  • Traditional owners
  • Sector representations (i.e. health, housing, education, business etc.)
  • Designated places for particular Indigenous organisations/ agencies/ businesses to develop strategic alliance with etc.
  • Strong support for 50% men and 50% women on the NIRB, important for membership to be selected based on merit

- Interest groups should have their concerns represented
-
Preference for a merit-based selection process
-
Include local with regional

  • With selection process
  • Selection Criteria
  • Police Check clearance
  • References
  • Roles and responsibilities of people

- Representatives should have integrity, vision and credibility, adherence to a code of conduct is essential

3.6 Relationship to Government

The workshops considered the
following questions:

  1. Should the National Indigenous Representative Body be established by
    government (for example as a statutory authority) or be independent of
    government?
  2. How should the National Indigenous Representative Body be structured to
    ensure a direct relationship with the federal government and the federal
    Parliament?

Common themes from Workshops

  • Short, Medium and Long Term Goals need to be clearly stated from the
    outset and the terms of the relationship should clarify the intention and
    purpose of the relationship between the NIRB and the government in regards to
    achieving these goals.
  • Long-term goals included
    • negotiating a Treaty
    • supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to secure
      identified and non-identified Seats in Parliament
    • work towards an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Political
      Party
    • negotiate an agreed 10-20 Year Vision with government and
      work towards a NIRB that is an independent organisation.
  • It is important that the NIRB is built to ensure Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander peoples will be supported and allowed to work towards Achieving their Goals without government interference. Concerns were
    expressed about government creating barriers for particular goals if they are
    stated at the outset.
  • In a relationship with government a Mandate or clear Terms of
    Reference
    will need to be negotiated to include measures for the NIRB to
    hold government accountable in areas of service delivery etc.
  • Define an Establishment Phase of the NIRB e.g. within a five to ten
    year timeframe, and during this timeframe allow for the NIRB to evolve on
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ terms. Define the duration
    of elected or appointed members’ term and how many terms they can serve,
    this needs to be aligned with the organisations evolutionary phases. NIRB will
    require government funding for the establishment phase.
  • Establish a clear and agreed understanding of words like ‘Partnership’ & Transparency; needs to defined and agreed
    upon by the NIRB and the Government.
  • During discussions in the groups there was a general lack of support for a Statutory Authority Model. There were concerns because ATSIC was one and
    was shut down by the government and there are concerns about how much
    independence a statutory body really has.
  • During the discussions there was support for the NIRB to use an Incorporated Model or Private Company Model and apply to the
    government for funding. This model would ensure the NIRB could set its own
    agenda and establish its own Terms of Reference for its operations. The concern
    with this was whether the government would commit to providing the resources to
    assist the NIRB with set-up and operations if it is independent of government.
    With a large membership base to legitimise the NIRB, the body could hold the
    government to account. Members of the NIRB should be elected in this model as
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders must actively support the organisation to
    increase its legitimacy with government.
  • The NIRB should maintain a Bi-partisan Approach in its relationships
    with the changing governments; care needs to be taken so as not to appear to be
    aligned with any particular political party. An example was the bipartisan
    agreements such as the Aboriginal Hostel.
  • The NIRB will have to build its Credibility with Aboriginal and
    Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as with government. Without the respect
    and legitimacy with government as a truly representative body the relationship
    will be strained and there will be a continued lack of trust from both parties.
    The NIRB will need to demonstrate to both parties its preparedness and
    capabilities to do the work set out in its goals and objectives. The
    NIRB’s credibility and integrity rests on the conduct of its governing and
    executive arm and accountability must also be implemented from within.
  • The role of Advocacy is crucial, in a direct relationship with
    government concerns are that the NIRB will not be able to effectively carry out
    this without retribution.
  • A relationship with government in regards to Research is integral to
    monitoring governments and holding accountable. For example the NIRB could
    collect data at a community level which is not always accessible or represented
    by the ABS data.

One group provided the following analysis of the benefits and
potential disadvantages of different models for the new national representative
body.

Positives of being Dependent
(re Solely Government
Funded/ Statutory Authority Model)
Positives of being Independent Body
  • As a statutory body, legislation would demand more accountability and
    transparency
  • Content of legislation open to negotiation regarding mandate for NIRB to
    hold governments accountable on particular matters such as policy, service
    delivery etc.
  • Access to existing operational structures
  • Timeframe to work towards gaining independence
  • Provision of funding and other resources
  • Access to systems and processes.
  • Funded appropriately and respected by government such as ACOSS
  • Better for maintaining bipartisanship in a Statutory Model
  • Strong autonomous voice
  • Minimise manipulation and influence from government
  • Self determination
  • Non public servants
  • Modelled similar to Telstra and AHRC
  • Better representation at all levels
  • Moves away from government bureaucracies, systems & processes
  • Ability to be critical of government without fear of retribution
  • Increase likelihood of international support and legitimacy on the
    international level
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people setting the agenda to address
    their needs, priorities and objectives in a culturally respectful manner
  • Provide independent and culturally informed policy advice
  • Develop community credibility
Negatives of being Dependent
Negatives of being Independent
  • Government will put compliances on the NIRB that could undermine the goals
    of Indigenous peoples/ NIRB and it becomes government driven
  • NIRB gets caught up in the policies set be government of the day
  • Possibility for NIRB getting caught up in easy gains and not tackle the hard
    issues
  • Employing government practices that are patronising and not empowering when
    addressing issues related to remoteness and issues that are not a mainstream
    priority.
  • Perceived to be another arm of the government by Indigenous peoples
  • Too much power and not enough consultation with Indigenous peoples
  • Diminished capacity to advocate on behalf of Indigenous peoples because of
    power relationship between NIRB and the Government as funding body
  • Diminished capacity to influence and inform policy development and
    analysis
  • Scapegoat – blamed for everything that goes wrong
  • Government may not link NIRB commitments or identified priorities of
    Indigenous peoples to their directions
  • Competing priorities; those of the NIRB and those of the government
  • Isolation
  • Community Politics
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Gatekeepers
  • Dependent on goodwill of corporate funders
  • Be driven by independent funders priorities often with no social justice
    commitment
  • Considered as a threat from the wider Australian community
  • Lack of trust in leadership
  • Lack of funding
  • Limited access to appropriate infrastructure

How should the NIRB be structured to ensure a direct relationship with the
federal government and the federal parliament?

  • It is not a requirement that members of Parliamentary committees are members
    of Parliament. Indigenous committee and Executive members can be appointed to
    Parliament committees and government could provide resources to do so.
  • The NIRB to support key people in our communities to stand for local, state
    and federal governments, we need Indigenous peoples at all levels of
    government.
  • The NIRB to have direct links to the Productivity Commission and the Senate
    Estimates Committee. Accessibility to senate to question and challenge the
    spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Chair of the new NIRB should have a direct position in cabinet; you
    don’t have to be in parliament to be in the cabinet.
  • Provisions to engage in government processes
    • Budget
    • Policy
    • Decision making
  • The NIRB to be involved in Ministerial appointments as well as elected
    representatives could even have a specific Ministerial Appointed Committee for
    Delegates from the NIRB. Application process should be transparent with
    selection criteria and appointed by independent committee.
  • The NIRB Chairperson should have a permanent seat at COAG table.
  • Human resources management, Identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islander staff for positions in the NIRB, supporting their development and
    providing pathways through to leadership positions.

During the discussion funding was also covered in relation to the
desire to be an independent body. Concerns were expressed about whether the
Government will be prepared to financially support the NIRB’s long term
goals. It was discussed that government should fund the establishment phase.
The NIRB could harness funds through the following avenues:

  • Philanthropic and Corporate sector.
  • Get charitable contributions and also have an independent arm
  • Percentage of the GDP.
  • Government could advise how we gain equity whether it’s through GDP or
    taxation on resources.
  • Financial contribution from the individual and/or collective organisations
    e.g. Oxfam, BHP etc. This is important to ensure sustainability.
  • Shared work load on shared responsibilities e.g. constitutional
    recognition
  • Land tax like the State Land Councils, receive money out of GDP and put into
    a trust and approach industry, despite dependence on the global economy.
    Royalties from mining Native title compensation
  • Other funding could also include funding from Indigenous Land Council.
  • Aboriginal Hostels funding
  • Funding should be based on 10 year funding stream and that investment fund
    be established.

^top

3.7 Funding Mechanisms

In this workshop session, the following question was addressed:

  1. How should the National Indigenous Representative Body be funded to ensure
    its ongoing security? Should it:

    1. Receive government funding?
    2. Gain charitable status to receive tax-free donations?
    3. Have an establishment fund to give the body a capital base?
    4. Charge membership fees?
    5. Charge for delivery of services and products?
    6. Be established as a future fund financed through a percentage of mining tax
      receipts?
    7. Have other ways of funding?

A substantial majority of participants rated the
following funding options as important:

  • Have a fund established to give the body a capital base (like the Indigenous
    Land Corporation);
  • Receive (untied) government funding;
  • Be established through a future fund financed through a percentage of mining
    tax receipts;
  • Gain charitable status to receive tax free donations.

Participants also identified the potential for the representative
body to charge membership fees or charge for delivery of goods and services.
However, the majority of participants did not see these options as important in
funding the representative body.

It was discussed that even if the NIRB ends up being a statutory authority it
should aim for financial independence within its first 5-10 years of initial
development and operation.

The idea of the NIRB employing a combination of different funding mechanisms
was also discussed. Caution was expressed about where the NIRB accepts funds
from to ensure that the goals and objectives of the NIRB are not influenced or
limited due to the goals and aspirations of various funding bodies. Discussions
also included the importance of ensuring that the NIRB is adequately costed and
funds allocated accordingly.

Common Themes from Workshops

  • Establishment fund required to provide future security and financial
    independence. Important to ensure the right equation is used to provide ongoing
    operational funds. Various sources to set up a future fund, this would be the
    main source of funding
  • Government revenue – land tax, GST, income tax, stamp duty, parking
    and access fees in communities
  • Infrastructure fees – power, water, electricity – percentage to
    be charged to government
  • Natural Resources – wind farms, water – fees should be
    re-directed back to NIRB
  • Investing on stock exchange
  • Economic development – government matching which is raised by the
    NIRB
  • Public trust funds, stolen wages and intervention funds as surplus money to
    be re-directed to NIRB
  • Agreement on the NIRB having charitable status; depending on the particular
    form it takes. Its important that any funds/gifts from organisations or
    individuals are transparent and without strings attached.
  • Charge a membership fee however would need to be mindful of individuals who
    may not be able to meet the cost; another suggestion was for the fee to be
    voluntary.
  • The NIRB to charge a consultancy fee for the Government
  • A Percentage of Mining Royalties
  • Portion of Funds from cultural heritage through Tourism revenue, Aboriginal
    Art etc.
  • Foreign investments
  • Airport, shipping and freight tax; Alcohol and cigarette tax
  • Funds from Carbon Trading
  • Funding from CDEP since its closure funds have been allocated to go to the
    new job network to fund new indigenous employment. Is it a viable option to have
    that money put towards the new NIRB?
  • Use the unions as an example- for them, not all money comes from fees, they
    have set themselves up as training agencies etc. The NIRB could also be an RTO
    and deliver training
  • Charge a fee for service to Government agencies and non-government agencies
    e.g. for services such as mediation for private/government sector with
    traditional owners
  • Percentage of funds from tax contributions
  • As an interim measure, the Government should guarantee a certain amount of
    money over the next three years and during this time we can explore other
    options
  • The NIRB should develop strategic alliances with bodies such as Indigenous
    Business Australia (IBA) and the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) and the
    Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA)
  • Access funds through Churches
  • Government subsidises the NIRB for the employment and development Aboriginal
    and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Accessing funds through mining rights, airport taxes, sea taxes, big
    property and business investments
  • Generate big money through our land in areas and generating energy, whether
    it’s with wind, solar or trees
  • Funds created through knowledge of bush medicines; we could create
    pharmaceuticals
  • Combination of funding – from 3 tiers of government (State, Federal
    and Local), membership fees
  • Use NSW Aboriginal Land Council model for financial self-management
  • NIRB to engage leaders of services, of policy & advocacy, of
    communities, of culture; generate funds through services provided
  • GST Receipts and Medicare Levy
  • Particular arms may be funded in a range of ways e.g. a research arm could
    receive grants and funding to conduct that research why is there line spacing on
    some of this and not this section?
  • Early funding would also require a sizeable budget allocated to PR and
    public education as to the role, structure and makeup of the new NIRB, for both
    Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. This would need to be distinct from
    establishment and operational costs.
  • Harness funds from International and multi-national funders, sources such as
    the United Nations as well as private and philanthropic funding sources
    overseas
  • Membership – compulsory or voluntary financial membership as is the
    case with many student union organisations
  • Stolen wages trust account – legislated to ensure it can’t
    benefit an individual but can go to a collective group (this could be tapped by
    the NIRB).
  • Lotteries, gambling fund, taxes on gambling, cigarettes and alcohol?
  • Tax on alcohol to address health issues endemic in the Indigenous
    community.

Quotes from the Discussion on what NIRB Funding could
Support

  • Support and increase Native Title – not to infringe on Native Title
    Rights
  • Land purchase for communities and individuals
  • Housing infrastructure
  • Cultural & Language programs
  • Educational programs – gifted & talented; literacy gaps; maths
    development; science development, scholarships & career support
  • Proof of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander identities, the NIRB could
    create a consistent process
  • Communities and individual people provided training on financial management
    – Financial education & literacy; in economic structures for economic
    independence – “learn how to do it themselves; not be reliant on
    others”. Based on work of Robert Kiyosaki “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”
    and George Class on “The Richest Man in Babylon”
  • Establish Investment Portfolios – to create financial bases
  • Provision of Research Grants

^top

3.8 Key elements for a national representative body: What is
negotiable & non- negotiable?

Participants were divided into groups to discuss and decide what they think
is negotiable and not negotiable in relation to key features and functions of a
National Representative Body.

Common themes from the Discussion about Non Negotiable
Matters

  • Self Determination – The new representative body will need to define
    what this means.
  • Independent – Governance, untied funds and discretionary recurrent
    funding, membership not to be influenced by government.
  • Representation of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    people based on gender, geographical locations, relationship to country and
    cultural diversity.
  • No service delivery – Service delivery is the responsibility of the
    Australian Government for all citizens
  • Monitoring & Evaluating Government Service Delivery/ Programs –
    there has to be a two-way accountability process
  • Advocacy Role – As a primary function for all Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander people
  • Bi-partisan Support from Government to ensure sustainability through change
    of government and also to ensure funding
  • Gender Balance – Equality at the top in decision making, setting
    agendas and strategic planning
  • Relationship to Government – Through the Prime Minister and Cabinet as
    well as State levels; representation on COAG
  • Accountability –to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Identification – ensure all representative body members are Aboriginal
    or Torres Strait Islanders and establish a clear process to verify identity.
  • Research and Policy Development – Create manage and monitor research,
    create guidelines and protocols to be used when all research is undertaken in
    line with practices underpinning Indigenous research methodology.
  • Access to government data to check validity and analysis of data
  • Openness, Transparency and Accountability – Opportunities for
    community input, Annual reports on operations
  • Create Mandates – for the protection of culture, language, program
    design, design legislation, growth and development of Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander people
  • Selection of new representative body representatives must be transparent,
    process of selection must be determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    people, people must be selected based on set criteria that includes identifying
    the specific and appropriate skill set

Common themes from the Discussion about Negotiable
Matters

  • Accountability - Process on how we talk to government and other parties,
    process for reporting, administrative process and mechanism for engagement.
  • Economic Sustainability and building within our people the long term
    economic sustainability, funding contracts and economic development processes.
  • Depends on Model of Funding agreed upon:
    • Receiving a blanket amount of funding for the set up period
    • Funding avenues: combination of Government and other funding, as well as
      other funding sources and partnerships with existing fund. Might include a set
      up of Future Fund, including mechanism for support.
    • Funding level needs to be negotiable with
      government.

^top

4. CONCLUDING REMARKS

In 3 days, the workshop participants have made significant progress in
identifying the principles to guide the creation of a new national
representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and in
identifying its key roles and functions, representativeness and relationship to
government.

The Steering Committee thanks all workshop participants for their dedication
and their contribution.

The Steering Committee intends to continue to work with all workshop
participants, as well as those who were unsuccessful in being invited to the
workshop to build consensus among our peoples to create a national
representative body that we all want and will support.

The Steering Committee intends to use the outcomes of the workshop to shape a
second and final stage of consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples over the coming months.

Further consultation will aim to capture voices that may not have been heard
yet, whether that is from special interest groups or particular geographic areas
etc. It will also focus on those issues and questions that need further
consideration or on which there is no clear consensus emerging to date from
either the workshop or the first round of consultations. These include questions
relating to the kind of qualities and skills needed by members of the national
representative body ‘s leadership, mechanisms for the organisations to be
truly representative of the diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
population etc, and processes for the selection of members to sit on the
national body (such as by election, delegation or some other approach).

Feedback from participants on this report will also assist the Steering
Committee to identify any more questions that need to be asked and existing
questions that need further consultation.

We encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to contribute
in the coming months to the discussions to create our new representative
body. As Klynton Wanganeen stated in his opening remarks: “say what you
want or be prepared to accept what you are given.”

^top

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Statutory Authority

A statutory corporation is established by or under an Act of Parliament. It
usually comprises or includes, a governing body or provides functions to am
individual or collective body of people appointed by the Governor or a Minister.
The Australian Human Rights Commission for example was established under the
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act.  It is a body corporate, with
perpetual succession.  It has a common seal, it may acquire, hold and
dispose of real and personal property and it may sue and be sued in its
corporate name.

Company Limited By Guarantee

An organisation can incorporate as a company limited by guarantee when there
are a number of stakeholders whose interests have to be accounted for and where
a profit motive is not the prime objective of the organisation. It must be a
registered non-profit organisation specifically structured for a club or
charity. It is registered as a legal entity separate from its members. The
company can hold property and can sue and be sued. The company must reinvest all
profits into the company for the benefit of its members. The liability of the
company's members is limited to the amount the members undertake to contribute
to the property of the company if it is wound up. Companies limited by guarantee
are registered under the Corporations Act 2001, which is administered by ASIC. A
company's registration is recognised Australia wide.

Incorporated Association

Associations are incorporated under State and Territory Associations
Incorporation legislation, which is not administered by ASIC, but by the various
state authorities. An incorporated association is also a legal entity separate
from its individual members that can hold property, sue and be sued.
Incorporating an association in a State or Territory restricts the organisation
to operating in its home jurisdiction. For example, an association incorporated
under the Associations Incorporation Act of New South Wales may only carry on
business in New South Wales.

Charitable status

A charitable institution is an institution that is established and run solely
to advance or promote a charitable purpose. An organisation’s purposes can
be found from its governing document/s and from its activities, history and
control. A charitable institution may be an organisation established by will or
instrument of trust. It may also have the legal structure of an unincorporated
association or a corporation. However, incorporation is not enough on its own
for an organisation to be a charitable institution – what the organisation
does is also relevant.

A charitable fund is a fund established under an instrument of trust or a
will for a charitable purpose. Charitable funds mainly manage trust property,
and/or hold trust property to make distributions to other entities or people. To
be a charitable fund, your organisation must be a charity.

A public benevolent institution (PBI) is a non-profit institution organised
for the direct relief of poverty, sickness, suffering, distress, misfortune,
disability or helplessness. The characteristics of a PBI are: it is set up for
needs that require benevolent relief; it relieves those needs by directly
providing services to people suffering them; it is carried on for the public
benefit; it is non-profit; it is an institution, and its dominant purpose is
providing benevolent relief.

An income tax exempt fund (ITEF) is a non-charitable fund that is endorsed by
the Tax Office to access income tax exemption. It applies to non-charitable
funds established under a will or instrument of trust solely for: the purpose of
providing money, property or benefits to income tax exempt deductible gift
recipients (DGRs), or the establishment of DGRs. The beneficiaries of ITEFs can
include DGRs that are charities and DGRs that are not charities.

A non-profit organisation is one which is not operating for the profit or
gain of its individual members, whether these gains would have been direct or
indirect. This applies both while the organisation is operating and when it
winds up. Any profit made by the organisation goes back into the operation of
the organisation to carry out its purposes and is not distributed to any of its
members. The Tax Office accepts an organisation as non-profit if its
constitution or governing documents prevent it from distributing profits or
assets for the benefit of particular people – both while it is operating
and when it winds up.

The following exemptions are available for the different funds/ institutions/
organisations:

  • Income tax exemption - available to public benevolent institutions,
    charitable institutions, charitable funds, income tax exempt funds,  and
    other selected non-profit organisations
  • Fringe Benefit Tax exemption - available to public benevolent institutions
    and other selected non-profit organisations
  • GST concessions for charities and deductible gift recipients - available to
    public benevolent institutions, charitable institutions, charitable funds,
    income tax exempt funds, and
    other selected non-profit organisations
  • GST concessions for non-profit organisations - available to public
    benevolent institutions, charitable institutions, charitable funds and other
    selected non-profit organisations
  • Deductible gift recipient - available to public benevolent institutions,
    charitable institutions, charitable funds, income tax exempt funds,  and
    other selected non-profit organisations

A gift made to a non-profit organisation is not consideration for a
sale and is not subject to GST. If a donor makes a gift to a gift deductible
entity that operates a fund, authority or institution which can receive tax
deductible gifts or contributions, the donor will not have to make an adjustment
to their GST credit if the gift is made for the principal purpose of the
endorsed fund, authority or institution.

Direct election

Here members of the organisation participate as individuals.116
They each
have a vote for a representative.

Delegation

In this model, organisations, national Indigenous peak bodies,
regional
and/or state/territory level representative organisations could nominate a
delegate/s to represent them in the National Indigenous Representative Body. The
delegate can be selected in a number of ways; elected from within the
organisation or group, or appointed by its Board, officers or elders.

Merit selection

In this model, the members of a national executive would be selected through
a merit selection process by a panel of eminent Indigenous
people. This
process would be used during the establishment phase of the representative body.
Once the representative body was in place and operating, the national executive
could then establish its own procedure for the selection/ appointment of members
in subsequent rounds.

^top

APPENDICES

APPENDIX 1 – Biographies of National Indigenous Representative

Body Steering Committee members

Tom Calma (Chair) is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal
group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group. He is currently the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait IslanderSocial Justice Commissioner and National Race
Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Mark Bin Bakar comes from the Kimberley and is a descendant of
the Kitja Tribe. He is a member of the Australia Council's national Indigenous
arts reference group (NIARG), and has an arts career spanning thirty years. A
musician, a performer and radio announcer based in Broome, he is best known for
his television character Mary Geddarrgyu, or Mary G. Mark was named Western
Australia's Australian of the Year for 2007 and the National Indigenous Person
of the Year for 2007/2008.

Tanya Hosch is a Torres Strait Islander
woman. Tanya has experience working with State and Commonwealth Government
agencies and is interested in projects relating to Indigenous youth. She has
worked for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the Council for
Aboriginal Reconciliation in Canberra, and with ATSIC. Tanya has been involved
in the development and delivery of leadership programs for young people and
attended the Prime Minister's 2020 Summit earlier in the year.

Geoff
Scott
is a Wiradjuri man and currently Adjunct Professor at the University
of Technology, Sydney and Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Aboriginal Land
Council. He has over twenty five years experience in the public service working
in Indigenous policy. He was formerly the Director-General of the NSW Department
of Aboriginal Affairs and the Deputy CEO of ATSIC. He is also currently Chairman
of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

Dr Jackie Huggins
AM
is of the Bidjara (Central Queensland) and Birri-Gubba Juru (North
Queensland) peoples. Jackie is a Director of the Telstra Foundation; Adjunct Professor in the School of
Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland; Member of the
Indigenous Advisory Board of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research,
Central Queensland University; former Co-Chair of Reconciliation
Australia
; former Chair of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council (2001);
former Commissioner for Queensland for the National Inquiry into the Separation
of ATSIChildren from their Families (1997); and former member of the ATSIC
Review Panel (2003). In 2001 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia
for services to the Indigenous community.

Tim Goodwin is a member
of the Yuin nation on the south east coast of NSW. Tim serves on the Board of
the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the
Editorial Boards of the Australian Indigenous Law Review and Ngiya: Talk the
Law. Tim is currently the Deputy Chair of the National Indigenous Youth Movement
of Australia (NIYMA).

Yananymul Mununggurr is from the Yirrkala
community in north east Arnhem Land and is a Djapu woman. She is currently the
Chief Executive Officer of Laynhapuy Homelands Association and advocate for
Indigenous people's political and cultural rights.

Jason
Glanville
is a member of the Wiradjuri peoples from south-western New South
Wales. Over the past fifteen years Jason has worked in a range of positions in
community-based Indigenous organisations, State and Federal Governments and
non-government peak organisations. He is currently the Director of Policy and
Strategy with Reconciliation Australia. He is also a Director of the Australian
Indigenous Leadership Centre, Co-Director of the Ngiya Institute for Indigenous
Law, Policy and Practice and Member of the National Aboriginal and Islander Day
of Celebration Committee.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks is an Arrente and
Amatjere woman from Utopia. She is currently Shire President of Barkly Shire
Council. Rosalie became the first Aboriginal Anglican nun in 1960 and after ten
years left to work as a liaison officer with the Victorian Department of
Aboriginal Affairs and it was during this time that she set up the first
Aboriginal home for children in Victoria. Throughout her life Rosalie has
remained passionately involved in traditional and contemporary Aboriginal issues
including law and justice, culture and language, education and
childcare.

John Toshi Kris is the Chair of the Torres Strait
Regional Authority. The TSRA is a statutory authority that runs programs for
Torres Strait Islanders, and Aboriginal persons, living in the Torres Strait
area, and which seeks to maintain the special and unique Ailan Kastom of Torres
Strait Islanders.

Nala Mansell-McKenna is a youth worker and
political spokesperson for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. She was a member of
the previous government's National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group in 2004-05,
and has organised many community activities.

Professor Mick Dodson -
Australian of the Year 2009
, is a member of the Yawuru peoples, the
traditional Aboriginal owners of land and waters in the Broome area of the
southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is currently Director of the
National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University,
Professor of Law and the Australian National University College of Law, member
of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Co-Chair of
Reconciliation Australia.

^top

APPENDIX 2 – Workshop
participants

The list of workshop attendees is attached below. Please note, some people
who were initially elected have withdrawn – those people are not listed.

Patron – Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue

Queensland and Torres Straits region
Mr Desmond Tayley
Mr
Gregory Phillips
Mr Todd Phillips
Mr (Lui) Ned David
Mr Alf Lacey
Mr
Stephen Hagan
Mr Reginald Rickardo Guivarra
Mr Percy Neal
Mayor Napau
Pedro Stephen
Mr Victor Hart
Mr Michael Williams
Ms Babinda Lency
Adidi
Miss Victoria Jenkins
Ms Coralie Ober
Mrs Mary Ann Coconut
Ms
Delilah MacGilivray
Mrs Elaine McKeon
Mrs Patricia Thompson
Ms Helen
Akee

NSW
Mr Paul Gray
Mr Troy McGrath
Mr Sean Gordon
Mr Leon
Donovan
Mr William Johnston
Mr Oliver Costello
Mr Leslie Ridgeway
Mr
Tom Briggs
Mr Steve Widders
Mr Aden Ridgeway
Mr Russell Taylor
Miss
Kirsten Cheatham
Ms Megan Davis
Ms Carla McGrath
Miss Renee
Williamson
Ms Tina McGhie
Ms Kim O'Donnell
Ms Kirstie Parker
Ms
Lynette Riley
Ms Shiralee Carroll
Ms Bev Manton
Ms Mary-Lou Buck
Ms
Neita Scott
Mr Rick Griffiths

Australian Capital Territory
Mr Steven Brown
Mr Ron Morony
Mr
Terry Williams
Ms Anne Martin
Mrs Matilda Ann House
Ms Mary Guthrie

Northern Territory
Mr Miritjunga Darren Maymuru
Mr Kim
Hill
Mr Geoffrey Wangapa Jungarrayi Barnes
Mr Barayuwa Mununggurr
Mr
Marius Puruntatameri
Mr Paul Ah Chee
Mr Wali Wunungmurra
Mr Banambi
Wunungmurra
Mr Mialay Dhambarra Wunungmurra
Mr Harold Furber
Ms Barbara
Shaw
Ms Amanda Ngalmi
Ms Ngaree Ah Kit
Ms Djapirri Mununggirritj
Mrs
Marrpalawuy Marika
Mrs Bess Nungarrayi
South Australia
Dr
Lowitja O’Donoghue
Commissioner Klynton Wanganeen
Mr Eddie
Cubillo
Mr Tauto Sansbury
Prof Roger Thomas
Miss Rebecca Grace
Richards
Ms Eugenia Flynn
Miss Diat Alferink
Ms Leanne Maree
Liddle
Ms Sandra Miller

Western Australia
Miss Dorinda Cox
Mrs Loretta Harris
Ms
Glenda Kickett
Mrs Kayleen Hayward
Mrs Jennifer Kniveton (Gregory)
Mrs
Dorothy Henry
Miss Rosetta Maria Sahanna
Mrs Patricia Mason
Assc Prof
Ted Wilkes
Mr Braden Hill
Mr Peter Jeffries
Mr David Collard
Mr
James (Jim) Morrison
Mr Brian Wyatt
Mr Sandy Davies

Tasmania
Mr Anthony King

Victoria
Mr Walter Saunders
Dr Mark Rose
Mr Graham
Atkinson
Ms Lidia Alma Thorpe
Ms Leanne Miller
Ms Judy Saxton
Ms
Jill Gallagher
Miss Lynette Austin
Mrs Muriel Bamblett
Ms Monica
Morgan
Ms Daphne Yarram

^top

APPENDIX 3 - Workshop Program

National Indigenous Representative Body
Workshop

11-13 March 2009
Stamford Glenelg, Adelaide

Tuesday 10 March: Stamford Glenelg – Level 1

6-7 pm: Pre-workshop briefing for participants and cultural
performance

7pm: Dinner
DAY 1
9:00am
Introduction Plenary session
  • Welcome to Country – Uncle Lewis O’Brien
  • Government perspective – The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for
    Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Setting the scene – Mr Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    IslanderSocial Justice Commissioner (Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Opening comments – Mr Klynton Wanganeen, South Australian
    Aboriginal Community Engagement Commissioner
  • Overview of Workshop and Desired Outcomes – Mr Justin Noel, Lead
    workshop facilitator
10:00am
Morning Tea
10:30am
Plenary Session plus workshops
  • Reflections on the challenge ahead – Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue,
    Patron – National Indigenous Representative Body workshop
  • Overview of consultations and submissions to date – Mr Geoffrey
    Richardson, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
    Affairs
  • Followed by table discussions / workshops:
    • reflections / lessons learned to date;
    • vision scenario – in 5 years time, what do we want to have achieved
      from a representative body?
12:30pm – 1:45pm
Lunch
Key elements / features of a national representative body
2:00pm
  1. Principles underpinning a new national representative
    body
 
This session will cover question 1 of issues paper: What principles
should guide the formation of a new National Indigenous Representative
Body?
3:30pm
Afternoon Tea
4:00pm
2. Roles and functions of a national representative body
-
questions 2 and 3 of issues paper:

2. How could the National Indigenous Representative Body have a say in
program delivery without delivering services?
Should it:
  1. Set priorities for service delivery?
  2. Contribute to planning processes?
  3. Monitor government service delivery?
  1. What should be the roles and functions of a new body?
    1. Advocacy?
    2. Forming policy and advising government?
    1. Law reform?
    1. Reviewing government programs/legislation – or monitoring/evaluation?
    2. Reviewing government service delivery?
    3. Coordination?
    4. The international arena?
    5. Research?
    6. Facilitation and mediation?
    7. Other roles? Eg. communication with ATSICommunities and the wider public
Close of Day 1

DAY 2
9:00am
Chair – recap on day one and feedback from sessions

9:45am
Key elements / features of a national representative body
(continued)
3. How a representative body engages with Indigenous peoples nationally,
state/territory level, regionally and local

- questions 4 – 6,
issues paper:

  1. Should the National Indigenous Representative Body be a national-level
    structure or include state/ territory and/ or regional structures?
  2. How might a new body engage with Indigenous peoples at a regional level? Should it:
    1. Include regional representation as a formal part of its structure?
    2. Hold regular regional forums?
    1. Conduct these itself, or in partnership with governments?
    1. Engage through some other process?
  3. How should the new body engage with Indigenous peoples at the state/
    territory level?
    Should it:

    1. Draw its membership from regional representative bodies?
    1. Link in other ways?
10:30am
Morning tea
11:00am
Stucture of a representative body and
representativeness

Question 7, issues paper:

  1. What should the structure of a National Indigenous Representative Body
    look like?
    Should it:

    1. Be based on a delegate model, nominated by regional and state/ territory
      levels of the body?
    2. Have a direct election model, where Indigenous peoples elect
      representatives?
    1. Involve Indigenous peak bodies and maybe others to nominate representatives?
    1. Have Indigenous bodies participate in an advisory capacity?
    2. Have positions on the national body for different Indigenous community
      groups?
    3. Have equal numbers of Indigenous men and women?
    4. Allow non-Indigenous organisations to participate as advisors?
    5. Be chosen by a panel of eminent Indigenous peers?
    6. Be structured in another way? For example, youth participation and
      elders.
12:30pm
Lunch
2:00pm
Relationship to government

Issues paper question 8-9:

  1. Should the National Indigenous Representative Body be established by
    government (for example as a statutory authority) or be independent of
    government?
  2. How should the National Indigenous Representative Body be structured to
    ensure a direct relationship with the federal government and the federal
    Parliament?
3:30pm
Afternoon tea
4:00pm
Funding mechanisms:

Issues paper question 10:

  1. How should the National Indigenous Representative Body be funded to ensure
    its ongoing security? Should it:

    1. Receive government funding?
    2. Gain charitable status to receive tax-free donations?
    3. Have an establishment fund to give the body a capital base?
    4. Charge membership fees?
    1. Charge for delivery of services and products?
    1. Be established as a future fund financed through a percentage of mining tax
      receipts?
    2. Have other ways of funding?
5:30pm
Session closes

7:00pm – 11:00pm
Workshop dinner –
Entertainment by Mary G, Queen of the
Kimberley

During Dinner: online survey / polling of all participants on key elements
/ features of a national representative body

DAY 3
9:00am
Chair – recap on days one and two
9:30am
Workshops:

Tables / workshops to consider draft outcomes of day one and two re key
elements of national representative body, and make any additional suggestions /
comments for inclusion in workshop outcomes document
10:30am
Morning tea

During Morning Tea: online survey / polling of all participants on key
elements / features of a national representative body
11:00am
Plenary discussion or workshops:

Models – how design a national representative body that
contains all the key elements identified in day 1 and 2
12:30pm
Lunch

During lunch break: online survey / polling of all participants on key
elements / features of a national representative body
2:00pm

3;15pm
Final session: Agreed way forward

To address objective 3 of workshop:

Identify a process for further consultation with Indigenous communities
leading to the establishment of an interim representative body from July /
August 2009.

Closing remarks from Chair and facilitators
3:30pm
Afternoon tea and close of workshop

^top

APPENDIX 4 – Flowcharts / Diagrams of proposed structures of a
national representative body developed during the workshop

Flow chart 1

Flow chart 2

Flow chart 3

Flow chart 4

Flow chart 5

^top

APPENDIX 5 –Responsibilities and Structure of Torres Strait Regional
Authority (TSRA)

EXTRACTED from http://www.tsra.gov.au/the-tsra.aspx

The TSRA

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is an Australian Government
Statutory Authority established on July 1 1994 under the ATSIC Act 1989, which
is today known as the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander(ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER) Act
2005.

The TSRA has the responsibility to:

  • Formulate, coordinate and implement programs for Torres Strait Islander and
    Aboriginal people living within the region;
  • Monitor the effectiveness of these programs, including programs conducted by
    other bodies;
  • Advise the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on matters relating to Torres
    Strait Islander and Aboriginal Affairs in the Torres Strait;
  • Recognise and maintain the special and unique Ailan Kastom of the Torres
    Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Region; and
  • Undertake activities necessary to perform its function as defined by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth).

The TSRA Vision

NGALPUN YANGU KAABA WOEYDHAY, A NGALPUN MURUYGAW DANALAGAN MABAYGAL KUNAKAN
PALAYK, BATHAYNGAKA (KALA LAGAU YA)

BUAIGIZ KELAR OBAISWERARE, MERBI MIR
APUGE MENA OBAKEDI, MUIGE MERBI ARERIBI TONARGE, KO MERBI KEUB KERKEREM (MERIAM
MIR)

NGALPAN MOEBAYGAL THOEPOERIWOEYAMOEYN, NGALPAN YA KUDUTHOERAYNU,
NGALPAN IGILILMAYPA, SEPA SETHA WARA GOEYGIL SEY BOEY WAGEL (KALA KAWAU
YA)

EMPOWERING OUR PEOPLE, IN OUR DECISION, IN OUR CULTURE, FOR OUR
FUTURE

TSRA’s Goals

The TSRA aims to improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of the Torres Strait
Islander and Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region.  It aims
to achieve this by:

  • gaining recognition of our rights, customs and identity as indigenous
    peoples;
  • achieving a better quality of life for all people living in the Torres
    Strait region;
  • developing a sustainable economic base;
  • achieving better health and community services;
  • ensuring protection of our environment; and
  • asserting our native title over the lands and waters of the Torres Strait
    region.

The TSRA administers Programs to
help achieve these goals.

TSRA Structure

The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) consists of two parts - the
elected Board and the Administration.

The TSRA Board

The TSRA Board consists of 20 elected Members who are all Torres Strait
Islander or Aboriginal people living in the region. They are elected every four
years by their individual communities.

15 of these Members become TSRA Members when they are elected as the
Councillor of their Community to the Torres Strait Islands Regional Council and
2 representatives from Bamaga and Seisia, become Members when they are elected
as Councillors for their communities to the Northern Peninsula Area Regional
Council.
3 Members are elected for the TSRA Wards of Port Kennedy (on
Thursday Island), Horn and Prince of Wales Islands, and  Tamwoy, Rosehill,
Aplin, Waiben and Quarantine (TRAWQ, on Thursday Island).

The Board determines TSRA's policies and budget allocations, and is the
political arm of the TSRA.

The TSRA Board currently consists of:

Board Members may also assume Portfolio responsibilities.

The TSRA Administration

The TSRA Administration is made up of staff who are Australian Government
Public Servants. The Administration staff carry out the functions and
responsibilities of the TSRA.

The General
Manager
heads the Administration and is appointed to the position by the
Minister for Indigenous Affairs. For a copy of the TSRA
Organisational Chart
go to: http://www.tsra.gov.au/media/52006/tsra_org_chart08.pdf

^top

APPENDIX 6 – Role & Functions of the ACT
Indigenous Elected Body (ACTIEB)

EXTRACTED from: http://www.electedbody.com.au/role.htm

Our Role

The ACT Indigenous Elected Body (ACTIEB) has the following functions:

  • to receive, and pass on to the Minister, the views of Aboriginal people and
    Torres Strait Islanders living in the ACT on issues of concern to them;
  • to represent Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders living in the ACT
    and to act as an advocate for their interests;
  • to foster community discussion about
    • issues of concern to Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
      living in the ACT; and
    • the functions of ACTIEB; and
    • this Act;
  • to conduct regular forums for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
    living in the ACT and report the outcomes of those forums to the Minister;
  • to conduct research and community consultation to assist ACTIEB in the
    exercise of its functions;
  • to propose programs and design services for Aboriginal people and Torres
    Strait Islanders living in the ACT for consideration by the government and its
    agencies;
  • to monitor and report on the effectiveness of programs conducted by
    government agencies for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders living in
    the ACT;
  • to monitor and report on the accessibility by Aboriginal people and Torres
    Strait Islanders living in the ACT to programs and services conducted by
    government agencies for the general public;
  • when asked by the Minister, to give the Minister information or advice about
    any matter stated by the Minister;
  • when asked by a government agency or another person, and in consultation
    with UNEC, to recommend any reasonable action it considers necessary to protect
    ATSI cultural material or information considered sacred or significant by
    Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders living in the ACT;
  • any other function given to ACTIEB by the Minister;
  • any other function given to ACTIEB under this Act or another territory law

^top


[1] United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Fact sheet No.9 (Rev.1), The Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/fs9.htm.
[2] http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/members/standards.cfm.
[3] Adapted from the seven principles of the Nolan Committee Principles of
Public Life, http://www.fegovernance.org/nolan_committee.html