May 10, 2017
Reconciliation Australia tonight welcomes the Australian Government’s decision to reverse cost-cutting measures, seen in previous Budgets, and investment in evaluation and evidence-based programme design.
However, Reconciliation Australia is concerned with the lack of a clear plan to close the gap, and to take the next steps toward constitutional recognition and treaty.
The Prime Minister’s latest Closing the Gap report, which revealed six of seven targets are not on track, is clear proof that targeted and sustained resources are needed to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and employment disparities.
Also of concern, is a lack progress on the anticipated roadmap forward for recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our Constitution, as well as treaty and agreement making.
As the Referendum Council wraps up regional dialogues on constitutional recognition at Uluru on 24 to 26 May, this year’s Budget is silent on how the implementation of the Council’s recommendations will be resourced.
“Both constitutional recognition and treaty are long-sought milestones on Australia’s reconciliation journey,” said Mr. Mohamed, Chief Executive Reconciliation Australia. “We cannot afford to stall progress any longer. The Australian Government must be prepared for the recommendations of the Referendum Council, and provide adequate resources for their swift implementation.”
States and territories are leading the way with constitutional recognition and treaty. Tasmania was the final state to recognise Aboriginal people in an amendment to the State’s Constitution in late 2016. Meanwhile, both Victoria and South Australia have announced significant resources to fund state treaty processes.
Mr Mohamed said of the announcement, “the next three years are crucial for reconciliation, and continued government support is vital to ensure we carry forth a long history of reconciliation, which generations of Australians have dedicated their life’s work to.”
It is only weeks before the nation reflects on three significant anniversaries; 50 years since the successful 1967 referendum, 25 years since the High Court’s Mabo decision, and 20 years since the Bringing them home report. “These anniversaries are a reminder of how much has changed, but also how much remains to be done.
We cannot afford to lose the momentum these milestones have set in motion,” Mr. Mohamed said.
It is now time for the nation to follow in these footsteps and take the next steps.
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