On Wednesday the Minister for Indigenous Australians announced the latest consultative group to create a model for an Indigenous Voice to government.
The new Local and Regional Co-design Group will be made up of 17 people and is responsible for developing options for communities to liaise with governments to give local voices a viable platform to be heard.
The new group will be co-chaired by Professor Peter Buckskin and National Indigenous Australians Agency senior official Letitia Hope.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt told NITV News the group will be an instrumental way of implementing Indigenous voices at all levels of government.
“What I want them (the group) to do is have discussions about what should a local voice look like,” he said.
“Each time I go to a community, the Elders, the traditional owners, and the people who live in those communities say, ‘who listens to us, all you do Minister is listen to those bodies in Canberra’.
“We want a local voice… what they want is for their voices to be heard collectively.”
Mr Wyatt said people are seeing family and friends die at alarming rates in community and also “seeing people whose levels of poverty are disproportionate”.
This group, he said, will hopefully help address matters like those and other ongoing issues such as poor water quality in rural towns.
The new group follows the establishment of the national group and the Senior Advisory Group.
The Senior Advisory Group was the first of the three, and was announced in November as a way to develop a Voice to government, co-chaired by Professor Tim Calma and Professor Marcia Langton.
The senior committee is also responsible for identifying potential candidates to comprise the National Co-design Group and the Local and Regional Co-design Group.
Mr Wyatt said he then took the advice of the SAG into consideration and worked with its co-chairs to choose the final members of the two lower groups.
“What I’ve done is gone for a broad range of people who reflect the different geographical diversities of our nation,” he said.
“Too often we talk first and don’t listen to the voices of those who are not heard.
“For many of our communities it is about forgotten voices and forgotten people and I say that, in the sense that the issues they raise, they become frustrated ... when we don’t respond at any tier of government.”
He said the newly formed local group will establish a framework at ground level for models and options based on what community members want to see change, supporting the overarching national voice with this input.
The three groups will put forward a Voice model that Mr Wyatt hopes will be widely supported, particularly on how to improve the lifestyles of Indigenous Australians, he said.
Mr Wyatt has previously ruled out enshrining a voice to Parliament in the constitution, something proposed by Indigenous leaders in the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017.
He instead argues for the importance of finding a national structure to help enrich the lives of Indigenous Australians.
Members of the Local and Regional Co-design Group include:
- Professor Peter Buckskin PSM (Co-chair)
- Cr Ross Andrews
- Ms Ruth Davys
- Ms Triscilla Holborow
- Mr Paul House
- Mr Chris Ingrey
- Mr Des Jones
- Ms Fiona Jose
- Cr Getano Lui Jr AM
- Mr Albert McNamara
- Mr Wayne Miller
- Ms Karen Milward
- Ms Lavene Ngatokorua
- Ms Vicki O’Donnell
- Dr Aden Ridgeway
- Ms Marion Scrymgour