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Trailblazers of Indigenous voice to government on track

Co-chair Professor Tom Calma. Source: SBS News

“We want to move away from government telling us what is good for us, to us telling government what we think is good for us.” - Professor Tom Calma AO.

Professor Tom Calma AO and Dr Marcia Langton AM are Co-chairs of the Senior Advisory Group overseeing the process to develop an Indigenous voice to government.

In an interview with NITV Radio, Professor Calma explained that Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal person in the role of Minister for Indigenous Affairs portfolio as a minister, working together with the Prime Minister, agreed that it’s up to Indigenous people to design the mechanisms to be heard at every level of government up to the highest echelon.

The co-design process is truly underway to the great satisfaction of both co-chairs. “Both Marcia and myself are pleased that the PM and the Minister for Indigenous Australians are willing to work together with us and give us the responsibility of developing some models for them to consider.”

Professor Calma stressed that the last time we had a minister for Indigenous affairs and a prime minister working in tandem was under Kevin Rudd’s government credited for the Apology and subsequently implementing the Closing the Gap Targets.

“Whilst ATSIC is gone, National Congress is gone we are looking at a new way of being able to get the Voice of Aboriginal people heard by politicians at the commonwealth level. Our job is to design what that might be.”

“It is a great opportunity for us to make sure that we are heard. What is complicated is that we still have existing bodies, peak bodies, a coalition of peak bodies, peak bodies in health, employment, education, justice and so forth but they don’t get heard enough.”

Despite numerous setbacks in the past, Professor Calma continues to forge ahead supporting efforts to improve Indigenous peoples’ advancement. 

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