The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Joint Media Release
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
& Senator Amanda Vanstone
Australian Government Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
& Mr Jon Stanhope, MLA
Chief Minister for the Australian Capital Territory
& Mr Lionel Quartermaine
Acting Chair, ATSIC
& Mr Keith Morgan
Chair, Queanbeyan ATSIC Regional Council
Ms Ros Brown
Chair, Indigenous Working Group
15 April 2004
A landmark ‘Shared Responsibility Agreement' has been signed today by representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, the Australian and ACT Governments and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
The Agreement commits the parties to a new relationship that will focus on improving individual and community well-being in our Indigenous community; strengthening culture; improving health, education and employment; and enhancing the capacity of government staff and community residents to work together more effectively.
The Australian Government Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said the Agreement would result in better outcomes for the ACT's Indigenous community.
“Today's announcement follows on from an earlier decision of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to trial a whole-of-governments partnership approach with a number of Indigenous communities or regions around the country,” said Senator Vanstone.
“The ACT is the eighth trial site to be announced. Today's Agreement is an important step towards the partnership but the hard work on all sides is just beginning. This new way of working is showing good early results in other places. It requires governments and their public servants to develop timely, sensible and wholistic responses to priority issues agreed with our Indigenous partners - and it requires local Indigenous people to join with us in taking responsibility for progress.”
The Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said his department was playing a key role in the ACT trial.
“The Australian Government is committed to this principle of shared responsibility. The Indigenous community of the ACT has identified the areas where they would like to focus change, and we look forward to working with them and the other partners on making those changes happen.”
ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, welcomed the partnership and said it was a great step forward from past approaches.
“The ACT's Indigenous community is vibrant and diverse, and includes the Ngunnawal people as traditional owners and also many other peoples from around Australia. This Agreement provides a new way of identifying and addressing the priorities of the community, and opens up an avenue for the parties to enter into comprehensive negotiations regarding the way services are to be delivered in future.
“My Government has recently committed to a number of significant initiatives through the Canberra Social Plan, aimed at advancing the health and well-being of the Indigenous community. Through the Shared Responsibility Agreement I look forward to working closely with the Australian Government to confront the fundamental challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
Chair of the Indigenous Working Group, Ros Brown, whose members have been elected to represent the interests of the ACT's Indigenous community, also welcomed participation in the trial.
“We have worked closely with the Australian and ACT Governments, ATSIC and ATSIS to establish this Agreement in the ACT. The Trial will give effect to a partnership that is about the community and governments working closely together to improve the health and well being of the local Indigenous community,” she said.
Acting Chair of ATSIC, Lionel Quartermaine, and the Chair of the ATSIC Queanbeyan Regional Council, Keith Morgan, agreed that, as Indigenous people, they understood the issues confronting the community - particularly the frustration of dealing with a multitude of Government Agencies.
Mr Quartermaine said the COAG Trials have followed ATSIC signing partnership agreements with nearly all States and Territories Governments in recent years, aimed at working co-operatively to address Indigenous issues.
“ATSIC has long recognised the importance of working partnerships and a whole-of-government approach to tackling Indigenous disadvantage, and has been at the forefront of putting such strategies into action,” he said.
Other trial sites are at Cape York (QLD), Wadeye (NT), the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands (SA), Kimberley Region of WA, Shepparton (VIC), Murdi Paaki (NSW) and the Northern region of Tasmania.
A copy of the ACT Shared Responsibility Agreement and further information about the COAG Trials Initiative can be found at http://www.icc.gov.au/ .