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Listening with ‘our ears and our eyes’: Ken Wyatt’s big promises on Indigenous affairs

Eddie Synot writes in The Conversation (11.7.19) that Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt's promise of a referendum on constitutional recognition within three years marks a dramatic shift from the Turnbull government's rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

'Recently, I wrote that Ken Wyatt’s appointment as the minister for Indigenous Australians was a momentous occasion in Australian history. The appointment showed the government is committed to doing things differently when it comes to its responsibilities and obligations to Indigenous Australians.

'It is still incredibly early days, but Wyatt has delivered his first major speech at a significant time – in the middle of National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week.

'For Indigenous communities, the speech held much promise and provided key details on what the Morrison government’s approach to Indigenous affairs will look like over the next three years. This is a major turning point that could result in real change after years of little progress.

'... Most importantly, Wyatt’s recommitment to constitutional reform moves the nation one step closer to achieving those important reforms of voice, treaty and truth from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.'

As the federal government debates an Indigenous Voice, state and territories are pressing ahead

Harry Hobbs and colleagues write in The Conversation (16.7.19) about how Queensland has become the latest state or territory to embark on an Indigenous treaty process. But for lasting progress to be made, the authors argue, the federal government cannot shirk its responsibility.

'Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has announced that the state will begin a conversation about a pathway to treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

'In doing so, Queensland joined Victoria and the Northern Territory in formally commencing treaty processes.

'This is a significant development. While the Commonwealth government embarks on another round of important yet time-consuming consultations over a potential First Nations Voice to Parliament, the states and territories are taking the lead on treaties.

'... It is hoped that the Commonwealth reflects on Queensland’s announcement and commits to establishing a Makarrata Commission. And that commission should be designed by Indigenous representatives serving on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice.'

 

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