Real partnerships a must for Closing the Gap

Reconciliation Australia has expressed its disappointment at the lack of progress under the Closing the Gap Strategy, following the Prime Minister’s report that found five of seven targets set by the Council of Australian Governments are not on track.

Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia, said her organisation was disappointed by the failure but remained hopeful that a bipartisan commitment to a greater First Nations’ voice in the planned refresh of the CTG would lead to more effective programs being delivered in partnership with communities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and peak bodies have been demanding a greater say in the policy priorities, and design and implementation of programs around the CTG since its inception over a decade ago,” said Ms Mundine. “Today’s commitment by the Prime Minister, supported by the Opposition Leader, is welcome albeit overdue, and builds on the COAG commitment in December.

“It is simple common sense that people, who live each day with the problems CTG is trying to address, will have the greatest knowledge and understanding of the causes and solutions to these problems,” she said.

Ms Mundine said a recent national survey on community attitudes around reconciliation strongly supported an increased say by First Nations people in matters that affect them.

“Our 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer found that an overwhelming 95% of Australians agree that it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them and around 60% believe more must be done by government departments to close the gap in areas of disadvantage.

“These figures prove that Australian Governments have a mandate from the Australian people to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a greater voice to ensure effective policies and programs are developed and real change occurs.”

Ms Mundine said that in light of the 2018 Barometer results she was pleased that Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, committed any future Labor Government to a referendum on a First Nation’s Voice to Parliament as proposed in the Uluru Statement.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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