27 August 2009
Creating a sustainable National Representative Body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma delivered the final report of the Steering Committee for the creation of a new national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Government on 27 August 2009.
The long awaited report - Our future in our hands - Creating a sustainable National Representative Body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - outlines a proposed model for a new national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which was designed and developed from 12 months of intensive consultations with Indigenous peoples.
The journey to this historic moment commenced in June last year when Commissioner Calma presented the federal government with an Issues Paper on considerations for a national Indigenous representative body. The Government commenced a consultation process soon after.
Mr Calma was subsequently asked by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin in December 2008 to convene an independent Indigenous Steering Committee to undertake phase two of consultations and develop a model for a new national Indigenous representative body.
Mr Calma has been leading this challenging process ever since and formally handed over the final report to Minister Macklin on 27 August 2009.
Arriving at this stage has required an unprecedented level of consultation and negotiation in the highly contentious and politically-charged area of Indigenous affairs. Firstly, Mr Calma facilitated a process to recruit 10 influential and innovative interlocutors from among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to comprise a Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee then oversaw a rigorous, open and transparent selection process to select 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to attend a three-day workshop to maximise participation and contribution to developing the model.
The Steering committee used the workshop outcomes, online submission and survey processes, as well as focus groups, to guide the process and ultimately develop a preferred model for a new national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Commissioner Calma said in his National Press Club address that establishing such a body is the most significant step in reconciliation and resetting the relationship between Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since the National Apology. The handover of this model to Government is an historic moment for the nation's Indigenous people.