ATSIEB response to audit report on ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement
The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body is pleased to see that the ACT Government sought to deeply consider the barriers and issues in the implementation of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement. The ACT Agreement is complementary to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, they form two important drivers for change for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
This ACT Audit report on the implementation of the Agreement reflects a missed opportunity. The opportunity for the ACT Government to heed the needs and priorities of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and purposefully progress the actions within the Agreement.
It is validating to read that the issues of working across government in the ACT is needlessly complex and bureaucratic and lacks the agility and cooperation assumed of a small jurisdiction. Chair, Tanya Keed, comments, ‘We are pleased that the Audit report has recognised the difficulties and failures in governance and coordination across the ACT Government in the implementation of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement. We will be looking closely to see how the ACT Government seeks to fix this issue.’
The report also highlights the need for additional capacity within the Elected Body, and that observation is welcome. We need to carefully evaluate how much time is required to appropriately discharge the duties of being a member of the Elected Body and the impact it has on individual member’s time and profession and their ability to engage broadly and regularly with the local community.
The report also notes that there is low voting participation. The Elected Body is encouraging and supporting local community members to enrol to participate in both local and national elections. This will facilitate the ability to participate in elections for their own Elected Body members.
Finally, recent reporting by The Canberra Times (10 August 2023) has deeply misrepresented the findings of the ACT Auditor-General’s comments and the full report. Such sensationalising of issues of self-determination, community engagement and systemic change is not welcomed or appreciated by the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Sustainable, positive change which is advocated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body takes time, discipline, positive professional relationships with the ACT Government, and persistence.
Further questions, please contact email@example.com or contact officer Jennifer Bennet on 0405 210 006.