Turning promises into actions

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Reconciliation Australia said today that it was confident the newly elected Tony Abbott-led Coalition Government would maintain the Australian Parliament’s bipartisan support for reconciliation and constitutional recognition.

CEO, Leah Armstrong, also said she was aiming to meet the Prime Minister-elect and his new Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, as soon as it could be arranged.

“We saw strong cross-party support on aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy including the commitment for a referendum on constitutional recognition and we hope to see that continued into the new Parliament,” she said. “Mr Abbott has committed himself to offering up a draft constitutional amendment for public consultation within the first twelve months of his government and we look forward to working with him.

“When this commitment is met we believe there should be no reason why we shouldn’t be voting in a referendum to complete our constitution with recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by the end of 2015,” she said. “Given the current high level of public support for recognition we are confident that during the next term of Parliament the people of Australia will vote to alter our constitution. Ms Armstrong said that while constitutional recognition was the immediate priority it was also essential that the new Government continues to prioritise policies that engender reconciliation.

“Mr Abbott promised during the campaign to spend a week every year in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, and we urge him to ensure that investment that can deliver sustained and positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continues.

She said that Reconciliation Australia’s experience taught her that effective government investment must be based on genuine partnerships and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, communities and representative bodies, and strong accountability and good governance on both sides in a way that authentically empowered the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

She also reiterated Reconciliation Australia’s view that policies and investment must have consistency, be long term and build on programs which are working.

Ms Armstrong congratulated the two Aboriginal members of the Federal Parliament; the re-elected member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, and the newly elected senator for the Northern Territory Nova Peris. “I am confident Ken and Nova will serve their people, constituents, and their country with distinction and act to encourage other First Australians to consider standing in future elections,” she said.

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