Indigenous leaders gather to discuss national body

By Staff Writer
Aboriginal leaders have gathered in Adelaide to discuss the possible make-up of a leadership organisation for Indigenous people.

One hundred Indigenous people from around the country are meeting for a three-day workshop to lay the groundwork for a new national Indigenous representative body.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, who agreed to a request from the federal government to convene the independent Indigenous Steering Committee organising the consultation, said the 100 applicants were selected from a highly competitive field.

“There was an extraordinary field of highly committed Indigenous people from all walks of life who applied,” Calma said.

“Such a high quality field of applicants meant that the selection process in the end had to come down to obtaining an appropriate balance of ages, locations and experience so that the workshop can represent the diversity of Indigenous communities across the country."

The previous Indigenous body, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), was dismantled by the Howard Government in 2004.

Calma said 263 applications were received by the closing date on 13 February, with a further 35 late applications which were not considered.

He said 56 per cent of the applicants were male, 44 per cent were female and that 45 per cent were from urban areas, 34 per cent from regional areas and 21 per cent from remote communities.

“This national workshop will focus on identifying the key elements or features of a new national Indigenous representative body which can then be distilled down to a series of preferred models for the new body,” Calma said.

“The workshop won’t be endorsing a final model for a national representative body nor will it be deciding the membership of it.”

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