A Senior Advisory Group will lead the way on Voice to Parliament by establishing models to ensure First Nations people are heard, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has revealed.
Minister Wyatt announced Wednesday that the Senior Advisory Group, co-chaired by Professor Tom Calma AO and Professor Marcia Langton AM, will ensure First Nations people are heard at all levels of government.
“Today there are almost 800,000 Indigenous Australian voices – from the far reaches of the top end of Australia to inner Sydney. I am committed to being the Minister for all Indigenous Australians, and want to make sure that all of these voices can be heard loud and clear,” Minister Wyatt said.
Consisting of up to 20 experts and leaders from across Australia, the Senior Advisory Group will also oversee the formation of a National Co-Design Group and a Local/Regional Co-Design Group to develop models that will enhance local and regional decision-making nation-wide.
“We need to get it right. Models will be workshopped with communities across urban, regional and remote Australia,” Minister Wyatt said.
“The best outcomes are achieved when Indigenous Australians are at the centre of decision-making. We know that for too long decision-making treated the symptoms rather than the cause.”
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney responded to Wyatt’s new plan Wednesday morning on ABC’s The World Today that the Government’s proposal for co-design doesn’t reflect the initial proposal outlined in the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
“The original proposal says that people wanted an enshrined Voice to the Parliament in the Constitution,” Ms Burney said.
“It also said that they wanted a Makarrata Commission which oversees agreement-making and Treaty-making, and it also talked about a national process for truth-telling.”
The Shadow Minister also said while there will be a range of views across First Nations communities on a Voice to Parliament, participation in the process was fundamental.
“I think it’s really important that people participate in the co-design process to make sure that voices are heard, to make sure there is a clear understanding by those leading the co-design process of what the wishes are of First Nations people.”
Although a plan has now been put on the table, some remain unhappy that a constitutionally enshrined Voice has been ruled out by the Morrison Government, despite comments from Minister Wyatt in May saying the Government is committed to constitutional recognition.
At a recent meeting at an Uluru outstation, delegates of the Central Land Council unanimously passed a resolution stating they “reject symbolic recognition in the Constitution.”
“Our laws were here first, they are the original laws of this land … We demand that [the Voice to Parliament] be protected in the Constitution.”
Members also voiced concerns that a legislated Voice to Parliament could easily be abolished or reversed.
“The abolition of [the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission] is still fresh in the minds of our members,” CLC Chair Sammy Wilson said.
“The Government will be struggling to win over Aboriginal people in the heart of the nation for its plans.”
The Morrison Government has invested $7.3 million into the co-design process and has promised a referendum on Voice to Parliament during this term.
By Hannah Cross