20 September 2023

Linda Burney tells economic leaders that Canberra is getting Indigenous policy wrong too often

| Chris Johnson
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Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney says Canberra needs help devising policy for First Nations people. Photo: File.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has told an economic forum that programs developed in Canberra for First Nations people are often backfiring and wasting money due to a lack of consultation.

In a speech delivered last night (19 September) at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event, Ms Burney said giving Indigenous people a say will result in better policies for the long term and achieve better value for money.

The Minister cited the Remote School Attendance Strategy as an example of where proper consultation could have saved a lot of money and achieved better outcomes.

“Over $270 million has been spent since 2014 on the Remote School Attendance Strategy – a program that was developed in Canberra,” she said.

“Developed with good intentions, but without listening. Across the 84 schools in the program, attendance has actually gone backwards. Backwards. Even before COVID.

“It’s what happens when governments make policies for Indigenous communities, not with communities.”

She said an Indigenous Voice to Parliament could have helped build a far better program that worked for the people it was intended to help.

READ ALSO Enrolment for Voice closed, bring on the vote

“Government and the parliament will have a two-way relationship with the Voice,” she said.

“As the Minister, I will go to the Voice and say: ‘This school attendance program isn’t working. Help me to get the best possible advice to fix it – from every corner of the country – about how we can do better’.

“Because the approach that different governments have been using for decades simply hasn’t worked, and we owe it to the next generation to do better.”

She said Indigenous children are more than 20 per cent less likely to finish school, and young Indigenous people are more than over 20 per cent less likely to be in education or training.

Later in life, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are more than 20 per cent less likely to have a job.

“It can’t go on like this, not when we have an opportunity to change the system that is letting the next generation down … Every day I wake up, I think about those kids. Every day during this referendum campaign, I think about their futures,” Ms Burney said.

“I’m 66. My great friend and West Australian legend, Senator Patrick Dodson, is 75.

“This referendum isn’t about us. It’s about the next generation. So when people ask you what’s this referendum about? When they ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ tell them this: ‘If you want a future where everybody has a fair shot in life – Yes makes it possible. If you want to move this country forward to a better future for everyone – Yes makes it possible.”

READ ALSO ‘Like you, we want our kids and young people to see a future for themselves,’ First Nations woman tells leaders

With the establishment of the Voice, she as a federal minister, would seek advice on four main areas where progress is needed for Indigenous Australians – health, education, jobs and housing.

Describing them as the building blocks of a good life, Ms Burney said if policymaking in those key areas were done right, almost everything else would improve for First Nations people.

“The form of constitutional recognition Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are seeking is a Voice – not a preamble. not a footnote in the Constitution,” she said.

“First Nations people want structural change that can make a practical difference – a mechanism that can empower. A mechanism that can make children’s lives better. Not just something that will feel good, something that will do good by making a lasting positive difference.

“The Voice won’t solve every issue overnight. It won’t right every wrong. But if we get this right, we can make significant progress in almost every area.

“Friends, for 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been speaking – 363 languages – but no Voice.

“In 24 days, you have the power to do something about it. You have the power to use your voice to give Indigenous Australians a greater say in their future.

“And on October 14, you can write the next chapter in our great country’s history.”

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Terin Meisner11:53 am 21 Sep 23

The Voice is exactly what Australia needs, if you don’t know, find out!

HiddenDragon9:24 pm 20 Sep 23

As a former NSW minister and shadow minister of many years standing, and most particularly as Minister for Community Services in the state, Linda Burney should understand better than most that Indigenous Australians in remote communities are by no means the only Australians who live in a galaxy far, far away (as the saying goes) from the generally well meaning but all too often uncomprehending (in spite of what they might sincerely believe and tell themselves) Fabian Socialist careerists of the Canberra bureaucracy.

The arguments, including this latest contribution from Linda Burney, being advanced in support of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament are essentially pointed illustrations of some fundamental problems in the relationship between the national government and many Australians of all backgrounds.

Imagine using a claim that the department(s) you’re in charge of are dysfunctional as a selling point for needing constitutional change.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

How about you actually do your job properly or resign if you’re that incompetent that direct consultation is too hard.

Her whole department is a failure

If thats the case call an election. Don’t just stand there not doing your job properly.

Does she think that policy is done correctly for the rest of Australia too?
Still waiting on my $275, bring on the nuclear. 10 reactors for Less than 40 billion vs a trillion and destroying the place for “green” power.

If you perpetually give handouts, why do you expect them to go and make it on their own?

When I was a kid we learned that the country had been inhabbited for 40-45,000 years. Every half decade they add on an extra 5,000 years, rather than the usual 5.

Linda B makes the arguement that Aborignal Australias should be treated differently (they need a voice). In order to make the arguement she complains that Aboriginals aren’t more the same, trying to get the rates of work and finishing school. Are they to be treated the same and measured the same, or treated different and measured different. You can’ t have it both ways.

The whole Yes arguement is completely illogicial and not internally consistent.

Max_Rockatansky2:29 pm 20 Sep 23

Vote No, we are all equal in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of the Constitution.

Linda must have forgotten that we have the internet. From the Remote School Attendance Strategy site….The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) is an engagement-focused program that works with communities and schools to improve school attendance. RSAS team members are local people from the community. They may be mums, dads, caregivers, aunties, uncles or grandparents who want to help children in the community get to school.

RSAS teams work closely with teachers, parents and the community to develop a community plan to identify ways to ensure all children in the community go to school every day.
It’s Canberra funded and the NIAA administer it but as their own website says…PARENTS and THE COMMUNITY develop a COMMUNITY PLAN. Linda continues to promote the YES false narrative that no one has listened to indigenous communities. Linda has taken a pretty good salary for the last 44 years in indigenous related roles. In education (not as a teacher) including the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (NSW AECG) from the 1983 to 1998, participating in the development and implementation of the first Aboriginal education policy in Australia. But to read her statements above she never consulted with local communities. She was waiting for The Voice. She’s held Indigenous State and Federal Ministry roles for the last 10 years. And still, she was waiting for The Voice. Linda’s very big on it so she might try some truth telling first.

Would’ve been just as effective and a lot less complicated if Burney had just taken the Voice as legislation to Parliament without the proposed constitutional change. That’s if consultation to improve service delivery was really the motivation. But Document 14 and numerous activists have said the constitutional amendment is meant to be an activist beachhead for a far greater agenda than mere consultation: treaty, ‘truth telling’ and reparations.

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