The Senior Advisory Group tasked with finding a model for Indigenous recognition has held its first meeting in Canberra today.
Nineteen people were announced last week to be part of an elite body to oversee a co-design process, responsible for developing two lower consultation groups that will create models for a voice to government.
The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, welcomed the members of the group to Old Parliament House this morning and outlined his plans going forward.
He referenced the unlikelihood of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous advisory body coming to fruition – the model supported by advocates for the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart proposals.
"This process should come as no surprise," he said.
"I understand that many in this room and across the country have expressed disappointment that enshrining the voice in the constitution is off the table.
"I also acknowledge and respect the fact that many of you will not reconcile from that view. I'm not here to change that mind of thinking, but we're here to deliver outcomes for Indigenous Australians," said Mr Wyatt.
Not all members were present at Old Parliament House for the first meeting, but co-chair Professor Tom Calma maintained the entire Senior Advisory Group supported the minister's preferred Co-Design Process.
Mr Wyatt received online criticism for some of the appointments to the senior body since making the announcement last week, notably for including conservative political commentator and Sky News media personality Chris Kenny.
Minister Wyatt outlined the reasoning for his selections, claiming those appointed to the group reflect the opinions within broader Australian society.
"It is important we bring a diversity of minds to the table," he said.
"You can have like-minded people, but you then delude yourself as to the outcome - if everybody is like-minded."
Mr Wyatt called on the elite group to embrace their opportunity to “enact meaningful” and “long-lasting change” for Indigenous Australians and the entire nation.
The meeting today will consider the selection criteria and membership for the lower-level committees that will represent people at a local and regional, and national level.
Group priorities have been outlined to have representation in all states and territories and a 50/50 gender balance.
The advisory committees will steer the consultation process over the next 12 months and provide advice to the federal government on the models that might be adopted in the future.