January 28, 2021

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The push to have an Indigenous voice to government and parliament is entering a four-month consultation period, with the government again dodging any timeframe for implementing the measure.

A 239-page interim report on the process of designing an Indigenous voice was released this morning, and is being heralded by the Federal government as a significant milestone.

It spells out some of the proposals for how Indigenous people could have a say on matters before parliament.

But the report does not set any timeframe for when constitutional recognition could become subject to a referendum or introduced to parliament.

The measure was most recently recommended as part of a joint parliamentary committee in 2018, and is considered important by a majority of Australians.

Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt said in a statement:

Over the last 12 months, more than 52 members across three co-design groups have worked through options for what the Indigenous Voice might look like and how it might operate.

Together with group members, we are now seeking feedback so they can refine their final recommendations to Government. All Australians are invited to have their say and further shape the proposals.

I want to ensure the voices of all 800,000 Indigenous Australians can be heard. The more people that provide their feedback, the greater chance we have to refine the best possible options and set up structures that enjoy long-term success.

Prof Marcia Langton, who is the co-chair of the Indigenous voice senior advisory group, said the proposals were not final, and people should make sure they helped guide the process. She said:

Now it’s time for everyone to consider them and provide comment so that we can put a well consulted final proposal to Government. Your feedback will help us make sure the final proposal is one that can work for all Australians.

The report finds that while the group has been encouraged by the government’s response to the pandemic, which largely helped keep Covid-19 from Indigenous communities, the destruction of Juukan Gorge showed more had to be done to ensure Indigenous voices were listened to.

It found:

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the very low numbers of cases in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations highlight what can be achieved when the Australian Government listens to, and works with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a say in the laws and policies that affect them.

Conversely, the destruction of sacred sites at Juukan Gorge is just one example that has occurred during the co-design process, which shows the negative impact when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are not heard.

You can read the full report and the consultation material here.

Original News : https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2021/jan/08/coronavirus-live-news-poorest-countries-to-get-vaccine-in-weeks-says-who-brazil-deaths-pass-200000

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