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What is the Redfern Statement?
The Redfern Statement was released on 9 June 2016 as an “urgent call for a more just approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs”.
It is a blueprint to address the disadvantage and inequality many Aboriginal communities are still challenged with today.
The 18-page manifesto proposed dozens of changes across a range of areas, including health, education, justice and family violence.
18 Aboriginal organisations from health, justice, violence prevention, disability, children and families’ sectors, and dozens of supportive mainstream organisations signed the statement.
What does it call for?
The Redfern Statement comprehensively sets out Aboriginal peoples’ expectations of, and priorities for, Australian governments.
- Community involvement. Policies should be made with communities rather than to communities.
- Resource Aboriginal solutions. More than $500 million that the government had cut from Aboriginal Affairs in the 2014 budget should be restored, and local Aboriginal organisations should be used as preferred providers.
- Better engagement. Government should engage with peak national Aboriginal representative bodies by funding them and scheduling regular ministerial and departmental meetings with them.
- Recommit to Closing the Gap. Government needs to set targets, secure funding and develop national strategies to address family violence, incarceration rates, child safety and wellbeing, the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, and increase access to disability services.
- A dedicated Aboriginal department. Government should create a stand-alone department for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, run by Aboriginal employees, that delivers policies and services and is a central department of expertise. (Indigenous Affairs is currently within the Prime Minister’s Department).
- Commit to reconciliation. The government should implement the recommendations of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, which includes an agreement making framework (treaty) and constitutional reform.
Why is the Redfern Statement significant?
Aboriginal people are amongst the most disadvantaged people in Australia, with the worst rankings in social indicators of education, employment, health, standard of living and family violence.
There have been too many reports and recommendations on how to end this disadvantage and resolve the massive gaps in equality, most of which were not followed up on with actions.
The launch of the Redfern Statement was a watershed moment for Aboriginal peak organisations who were coming together to demand a new and better relationship with the government.
Fact On the morning of 14 February 2017, Jackie Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples, handed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a coolamon holding the Redfern Statement.
Who signed it?
The statement was spearheaded by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
17 other Aboriginal groups signed it, including the First People’s Disability Network, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
They were joined by mainstream organisations including Amnesty International, the Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Medical Association, Law Council of Australia and Oxfam Australia.