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    Latest Press Release

    30 August 2016

    PM: Meet with First Peoples

    Today, on the first day of Federal Parliament, national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership organisations delivered a strong message to Prime Minister Turnbull, his government and the Parliament: the relationship with the First Peoples of this nation must be reset.

    The national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, along with peak national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations will unite in front of Parliament House calling for a new era in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

    National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chairs, Mr Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins, said that it was critical that the Prime Minister commence this term of government prioritising the establishment of a strong relationship with First Peoples.

    “We’re here on the first sitting day of parliament seeking a new relationship with the government based on working with us, not delivering to us.”

    “We share the same goals of addressing the disadvantage faced by our people, but we must be involved, we must be at the table when approaches are being developed and decisions made,” Dr Huggins said.

    The call comes on the back of the historic Redfern Statement, delivered during the federal election campaign, which offers a clear way forward drawn from the combined expertise of 18 peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and 31 supporting organisations.

    “The Redfern Statement was a great statement of unity on what needs to be done. The first step must be to engage with us,” Mr Little said.

    “Proper engagement must begin now. To begin, we’d like a public commitment from the Prime Minister to meet with us within the first 30 days. Further, we want the Prime Minister and relevant portfolio Ministers to join us at a National First Peoples Summit held within the first 100 days of parliament.”

    “Today’s an opportunity for the Prime Minister to show he has heard us”, he said.

    Today’s message was delivered in front of a backdrop of a Sea of Hands, with over 2500 hands planted in Federation Mall outside of Parliament House calling on the PM to meet with First Peoples. The installation is a symbol of support from the broader community who want to see change in the way government engages with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    “Previous Parliaments have failed to engage effectively with us, and as a result we have not seen sustainable solutions for our people,” Dr Huggins said.

    “Prime Minister Turnbull has a unique opportunity to establish a new relationship and listen to the expertise of national peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, so that together we can confront the challenges faced by our people,” she said.

    (Ends)

    Contact Details

    Contact: Shannon Longhurst ph: 0409 711 061 e: shannon@changetherecord.org.au

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