Apology anniversary: Much good will and hard work, so much more to be done

13 February 2012

The peak body for Australia’s community and social services sector, ACOSS, is marking today’s anniversary of the Commonwealth Government’s Apology to the Stolen Generation by urging all levels of governments to make a greater effort to close the enormous gap that still exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

“Despite so much good will and hard work, the reality is that there is still so much to be done.” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The official apology to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Stolen Generations in 2008 showed deep community sentiment for a new relationship based on respect and equality.

“We now have another opportunity to right the historical wrongs by recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our constitution.

“ACOSS recently welcomed the release of the final report of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and fully endorse its recommendations.

“We will continue to urge all politicians and political parties to show good faith and responsibility as we debate and shape this long overdue constitutional reform. This will help facilitate the building of mutual respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Australians and the rest of the community, which is fundamental if we are to see real change.

“ACOSS has long been calling for a new direction in policies affecting Aboriginal Australians based on cooperation, not ‘intervention’, as is currently the case under the Federal Governments’ Compulsory Income Management and SEAM policies as part of the Northern Territory Intervention.

“Whilst we have acknowledged that some aspects of the so-called ‘Intervention’ have ensured much needed investment that was previously non-existent in so many Indigenous communities, ACOSS views such policies like withdrawing income support payments from parents whose children aren’t attending school, as punitive, unnecessary, and counterproductive.

“We have joined other Aboriginal peak organisations calling for a new path based on real engagement, not more of the top-down approach to social problems that has characterised much of the ‘Intervention’.

“Today as we commemorate the anniversary of the apology, the Commonwealth and state governments have an opportunity to reflect on their policies, and the best way forward to achieve the much sort after change we all want,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155