New Indigenous body announced

By Angela Dorizas

NATIONAL: The independent steering committee responsible for establishing Australia’s new national Indigenous representative body has released the name of the organisation.

Chair of the steering committee, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma, announced that the body had been named the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been without a representative voice for too long,” Mr Calma said.

“This is a critical moment in forging a new relationship with the Australian Government and I thank them for honouring their commitment to establish the new representative body in this term of government.”

The announcement follows the Federal Government’s decision to accept the recommendations of the committee’s report, Our future in our hands, and fund the new body until December 2013.

“With funding secured for the initial years of operation, it is now up to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to put our future in our hands,” Mr Calma said.

“I call on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to support the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and contribute to the task of building a truly representative and effective national voice.”

Mr Calma said the body would remain in a development stage until the end of 2010.

“The steering committee has continued to work in a voluntary capacity on the institutional arrangements for the organisation in recent months and will continue to do so for the coming months,” he said.

Mr Calma said the committee would continue to focus on establishing an ethics councils for the organisation, selecting and appointing the interim national executive, developing the constitution and rules of the organisation in order to lodge it with ASIC and recruiting a chief executive officer.

The national body has received mixed reviews from the Indigenous community, with some fearing a repeat of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) corruption scandal.

Mr Calma has offered reassurance that the new body will be “radically different” from past representative organisations, with members subject to unprecedented probity checks. 

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