Aboriginal land councils across Australia have hailed a “seismic shift” in Federal politics they hope will deliver improved community housing, an enshrined voice to parliament and long-overdue progress in closing the gap.
Land council bosses have resoundingly welcomed Labor’s rise to power in Canberra, which has coincided with four new Indigenous MPs being elected to office, bringing the number of First Nations representatives to 10.
Northern Land Council chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the new Indigenous MPs would give their people a stronger voice than ever.
“There has been a seismic shift in Australian politics and the number of Indigenous Australians who have been elected to the national Parliament continues to increase,” he said.
Mr Bush-Blanasi said key priorities included fast-tracking funding for remote housing and homelands, developing a new model to replace the Community Development Program and maximising job opportunities for Aboriginal Territorians.
“Over-crowding is still a problem,” he said.
“If we can get housing right that will have a huge impact on the health of our people.”
Central Land Council chairman Robert Hoosan said he wanted to see Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney fast-track jobs and housing in remote communities.
“Aboriginal peak organisations have developed a strong model for the creation of real jobs with which we want the new government to replace the Coalition government’s failed work-for-the-dole scheme,” he said.
“We would also like to talk with Mr Albanese and Ms Burney about working with us to keep our young people out of trouble.”
Mr Hoosan said it was promising to hear Mr Albanese start his victory speech by recommitting to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
North Queensland Land Council chairman Richard Hoolihan said he would hold the new government to commitments to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people.
“We also look forward to Prime Minister Albanese’s promise to follow through with his commitment of an Indigenous voice to parliament and the recognition of First Nations people within Australia’s constitution,” he said.
The Uluru Statement commitment was a point backed by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council too, which described Labor’s victory as “renewed promise” for the advancement of First Nations rights.
NSWALC chairman Danny Chapman said the constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament and Makarrata Commission were needed to bring the country forward.
“Five years on from the historic release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart we remain waiting for government to listen, respond and genuinely work with our peoples to address the issues we have said are important to us,” he said.
“Our people want change, this is evident with the large number of First Nations candidates at this election.”
Mr Chapman said Ms Burney was respected by Aboriginal leaders and held firsthand experience of issues affecting Indigenous people.
The National Native Title Council praised Labor’s commitment to national heritage protection reform, but questioned how ready they were to reform the native title system.
NNTC chief executive Jamie Lowe said further work was required on native title recognition and compensation.
“It is our priority to demonstrate how native title is inextricably linked to most of Labor’s First Nations Policy commitments, alongside the economic, social and cultural well-being of the nation,” he said.
NNTC said it would advocate for reforms to address inherent inequalities in the current system which place First Nations people at a severe disadvantage when negotiating native title agreements.