An urgent call for a more just approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
"Social justice is what faces you in the morning. It is awakening in a house with adequate water supply, cooking facilities and sanitation. It is the ability to nourish your children and send them to school where their education not only equips them for employment but reinforces their knowledge and understanding of their cultural inheritance. It is the prospect of genuine employment and good health: a life of choices and opportunity, free from discrimination."
- Mick Dodson, Annual Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 1993.
In the past 25 years – a generation in fact – we have had the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Bringing them home Report and Reconciliation: Australia’s Challenge: the final report of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. These reports, and numerous other Coroner and Social Justice Reports, have made over 400 recommendations, most of which have either been partially implemented for short term periods or ignored altogether.
In the last 25 years we have seen eight Federal election cycles come and go, with seven Prime Ministers, seven Ministers for Indigenous Affairs, countless policies, policy changes, funding promises and funding cuts – all for the most marginalised people in Australia.
For the last quarter century, then, we’ve seen seminal reports which have repeatedly emphasised that our people need to have a genuine say in our own lives and decisions that affect our peoples and communities. This, known as self-determination, is the key to closing the gap in outcomes for the First Peoples of these lands and waters.
All of these reports call for better resourcing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
All of these reports call for real reconciliation based on facing the truths of the past and creating a just and mature relationship between the non-Indigenous Australian community and the First Peoples.
The next Federal Government will take on the same responsibility to right this nation’s past injustices as the last eight Federal Governments have had. The next Government of Australia will take power with our First Peoples facing the same struggles as they were in 1992. But this next Federal Government also has an unprecedented nation-building opportunity to meaningfully address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. They have the mandate to act.
The Redfern Statement, 2016
We stand here as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak representative organisations with a deep concern:
Stand with us to let this statement be heard and acted upon by our nation’s leaders.
Read the Redfern Statement in full, including specific policy asks.