Assisting Qld Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils achieve community aspirations
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) acknowledges the need to ‘close the gap’ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other Australians in terms of health and life expectancy.
The LGAQ also acknowledges the history of our First Australians, the struggles and misfortunes they have endured, and the ongoing battle they experience even today, in gaining the support required to close the gap across all significant aspects that affect their way of life.
The LGAQ recognises its 16 member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island councils within Queensland, and acknowledges their hard work and commitment to overcome hardships and discouragement in order to deliver community aspirations.
It is important to acknowledge the need to close this gap is being upheld by the LGAQ and that as a representative body for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils, it is striving to represent and voice the concerns faced on the ground, within these communities, every day.
Constitutional Recognition of Australia's First People: new website
Following a Motion resolved at the 2014 LGAQ Annual Conference we have collaborated with a Queensland Volunteer Working Group (supported by ANTaR and Reconciliation Queensland) to develop a website providing factual details about the upcoming referendum on constitutional recognition of Australia’s first peoples.
- accurate background evidence to the proposed referendum and
- access to a range of articles by prominent Australians both for and against constitutional recognition.
The purpose of the website is to inform the reader, assisting them in reaching their own conclusion on the matter.
Many Queensland councils will provide access to the website as a service to their community generally and their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander constituency specifically via a link on their council websites. Find your council's website
Ms Mary Graham, prominent educator, philosopher, writer and human rights campaigner and Uncle Bill Buchanan, Co-Chair, Reconciliation Queensland Inc. will officially launch the website on Thursday, 22 October 2015.
Indigenous Leaders Forum
The Indigenous Leaders Forum (ILF) is a gathering of the leaders (mayors, councillors and CEOs) from the 16 Queensland Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Queensland local government councils and also Torres Shire Council. The ILF is convened formally twice a year but occasionally will be brought together for specific-issue meetings as needed.
The ILF was established by the LGAQ at the request of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council members to provide an opportunity for Queensland Indigenous elected members to come together, to identify common concerns, to prioritise common issues and identify remedial strategies and agree upon implementation initiatives.
Appropriate government ministers and dignitaries are invited to attend and engage in genuine conversations with the Indigenous leaders.
Forum members and guests are encouraged to be open about their issues, to listen to the concerns and priorities of others with a view to establishing sustainable and genuine partnerships to address issues.
If you wish to register to attend or receive information regarding the next Indigenous Leaders Forum please contact our member services team on 1300 542 700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Council and government partnerships
Australian Government statistics confirm that across a range of accepted life indicators including health, education and employment, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain significantly disadvantaged. Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils have demonstrated that when the state and federal governments are willing to work with them in a genuine partnership, improvements can be made.
These partnerships have led to increased employment opportunities, improved social housing and enhanced government services. Councils continue to express their concerns about too many funded programs being initiated by state and national capitals relying exclusively on the advice of people who do not live and work in the communities and accordingly, on too many occasions, fail to achieve their desired outcomes.
Successful council and government partnering arrangements have led to results such as lifting completion rates of council employee training from 15 per cent to 89 per cent, increased local employment through preferred supplier arrangements, and the establishment of local business opportunities.
Councils strongly advocate the solution, not just the problem, lies with communities and governments, who need to improve engagement with their democratically elected leaders if they truly wish to close the gap.
Reconciliation Action Plan
In its own right as an organisation, the LGAQ has developed a Reconciliation Action Plan. Within this plan, the LGAQ recognises that genuine reconciliation requires the pursuit of knowledge and understanding to achieve cultural sensitivity and full appreciation of, and respect for, diversity.
The very constitution of the LGAQ acknowledges Indigenous representation. The LGAQ Policy Executive consists of 15 members including two as-of-right posts allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local government leaders. These posts currently belong to the Mayor of the Torres Strait Island Regional Council Fred Gela, and Mayor of the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council Alf Lacey.
There are also four dedicated positions within the LGAQ which focus on Indigenous issues and producing an annual Indigenous Leaders Forum, which allows the leaders of Indigenous local governments to come together, united, to voice their issues and concerns, which are then progressed by the LGAQ.
The LGAQ is continuing to lobby the federal and state governments to forge partnerships with the LGAQ and its Indigenous Leadership Forum as significant issues must be addressed, including housing, land tenure and Native Title which are vexed, complex and longstanding issues.
At a federal level, the LGAQ maintains that a dedicated strategy is required to first engage with Indigenous communities, and to develop mechanisms for the purpose of co-designing housing responses in Queensland. The LGAQ also advocates for any future investment or National Partnership Agreements for Remote Indigenous Housing to be guided by the NPARIH Review of Progress (2008 – 2013) report.
The LGAQ has briefed the new state government on Indigenous-related issues, including the Association’s 10 point plan which consists of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: with the Indigenous Leaders Forum; State Government Financial Aid; and improved engagement between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils and the state government.
Other relevant issues which have been flagged with Ministers by the LGAQ include council workforce, retail stores in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities along with issues such as affordable housing and healthy communities.
Several Indigenous councils have registered for the Healthier.Happier Workplaces program and have enrolled in associated initiatives, including the Queensland Government’s Quit Smoking Campaign, the LGAQ’s CEO Be My Inspiration Challenge and several workshops aimed at workplace health and wellbeing.
Additionally, Torres Strait Island Regional Council recently won a grant for their ‘Me’ke Healthier Happier Choices’ Program. Through these initiatives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of their workers and their communities.
QLD Indigenous Councils
Aurukun Shire Council
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council
Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council
Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council
Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council
Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council
Mornington Shire Council
Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council
Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council
Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council
Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council
Torres Strait Island Regional Council
Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council