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Issue #1736      June 22, 2016

Union endorses Redfern Statement

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members and members working in Indigenous policy and service delivery have overwhelmingly endorsed the Redfern Statement and its demands for government action to end Indigenous disadvantage.

A survey of around 350 relevant members has found 86% of respondents want the CPSU to publicly support the recently launched Redfern Statement, while 82% support the creation of a dedicated federal Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

The Redfern Statement was jointly launched earlier this month by Indigenous health, education, legal and reconciliation organisations, with broad support from non-government organisations committed to empowering Indigenous Australians to end disadvantage.

The Redfern Statement’s demands include:

  • Restoring the $534 million the Turnbull-Abbott government slashed from Indigenous programs in the 2014 budget.
  • Better engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including through funding the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
  • Establishing a Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs that is managed and run by senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants and brings together policy and service delivery.

CPSU national president Alistair Waters said: “Our members have spoken clearly in support of the Redfern Statement and its goal of ending the massive disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We stand by the Redfern Statement and call for action to implement it. The statement is a clear plan for reversing the damage done by the Turnbull-Abbott government, including massive budget cuts, and engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop and implement new, empowering and enduring policies.”

The Redfern statement also recognises the impact of the Turnbull government more broadly, by calling for a resumption of indexation of the Medicare rebate, a pause that has adversely and disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The threatened privatisation of Medicare under Malcolm Turnbull will similarly hurt Indigenous Australians even more than other parts of our community.

The union says a dedicated Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs managed by senior Indigenous public service workers would bring together policy and service delivery and ensure centralised expertise. “It is a key step but it would be just one step in the journey to improving the situation. The real key to change is developing policy and implementing programs with and not merely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Survey responses included:

“Unless Aboriginal people have a voice of their own, development will not occur. Self-determination is an essential ingredient to Indigenous development.”

“A federal Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs could also be a training mechanism for young Aboriginal people to train and have a say in their future. Many of the youth see no future for them[selves]. The current system is a disgrace.”

“The current way in which Indigenous Affairs is operating is not working and not delivering on the intended outcomes of the government, including getting adults to work, children to school and creating safe communities ... A department dedicated solely to the delivery of programs and services to Indigenous Australians headed by Indigenous leaders is an important first step in the right direction.”

Next article – Their debt, our repayments

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