We warmly welcome the continued support of the Australian Government following the Prime Minister’s and Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ announcement to renew Reconciliation Australia’s funding for another four years.
It is particularly appropriate that the decision coincides with the annual submission to the Federal Parliament of the Prime Minister’s report on progress on Closing the Gap.
In her speech to Parliament this morning the Prime Minister stated that “Closing the Gap IS reconciliation”, we strongly concur with this sentiment and urge all members of the Australian Parliament to recommit themselves to support the national effort to achieving health, educational and economic parity in this wealthy country.
In particular we join the Close the Gap Coalition in urging the Australian Parliament to recommit itself to the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes.
The $14.4 million funding to Reconciliation Australia over the next four years will allow us to continue our effective work in promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.
Reconciliation means a more united and cohesive Australia, one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enjoy the same rights and opportunities as all other Australians. Reconciliation is about acknowledging the past history of Australia and acknowledging the unique and invaluable contribution that the First Peoples of Australia bring to the richness of Australia’s life and culture.
As the Prime Minister pointed out in her Close the Gap speech this morning the Reconciliation Action Plans developed by Reconciliation Australia and our partners provide profound opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by linking some of Australia’s largest corporations and not-for-profit organisation with Indigenous groups and organisations.
The plans have helped to secure almost 20,000 jobs for Indigenous Australians, more than $15 million for educational scholarships for Indigenous students and about $58 million in transactions with Indigenous businesses.
These successes have made a significant contribution to the national efforts to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.
There are thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have jobs; who are studying and who are running sustainable businesses enabled by Reconciliation Action Plans. There are tens of thousands of non-Indigenous Australians who have had the opportunity to understand and experience the unique culture of Australia’sFirst Peoples because of the Reconciliation Action Plan program.
We thank the Australian Government and Opposition for their continued bipartisanship in supporting the reconciliation process and commit ourselves to working even harder with our partners to close the gap and achieve an Australia that recognises and respects the special place, culture, rights and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Statement provided by: Dr Tom Calma AO and Ms Melinda Cilento – Co-Chairs of Reconciliation Australia