|STATEMENT FROM CONGRESS NATIONAL BOARD: FIRST PEOPLES VOICE WILL NOT BE SILENCED
The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) promised its members and supporters today that it will continue as a strong, fearless national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islnder Peoples.
Congress Co-Chairs Kirstie Parker and Les Malezer met with Congress Board Directors to assess the Government’s announcement that it will, in all likelihood, renege on an official $15 million funding commitment in the 2013 Budget.
Our founders protected Congress from the whims of Government by ensuring we were established as an independent company owned and operated by our Peoples – not as a construct of the Government.
Congress was also established based on the right to make decisions for ourselves. This is clearly articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 18:
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.
We will continue to fight for the issues that are important to us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Congress met with the Federal Minister Senator Nigel Scullion this week and was advised that the Abbott Government was unlikely to sign the funding agreement that underpins the 2013 Budget commitment.
The new Government has shown that they do not support real decision making for our families and communities through a national representative body chosen by our Peoples, for our Peoples.
The Board remains focused on the purposes of Congress, including securing economic, political, social, cultural and environmental futures for our Peoples.
Critical to this will be building a sustainable financial base for the long term. Congress will also continue to grow its extensive membership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Congress will now hold urgent meetings with members. We will also continue to build parterships with all Australians who are committed to achieve a just, fair and mature nation.
Kirstie Parker Les Malezer
Co-Chairs, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
[Extract from the Constitution of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples]
Congress is established for the public charitable purposes of:
Leading Peoples: providing national leadership and recognition of the status and of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as first nations peoples;
Protecting Rights: protecting and advancing the wellbeing and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities;
Being Representative: providing a representative voice of, and a conduit for communications with and between, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
Securing Futures: securing economic, political, social, cultural and environmental futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities by working with governments, service providers, communities and other stakeholders;
Building Relationships: building strong relationships with government, industry and among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, based on mutual respect and equality;
Identifying Solutions: identifying issues, researching solutions and educating government, service providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to achieve the above purposes.
Being Professional: In carrying out its purposes, the company will operate with the following values:
(1) the highest standards of professionalism and objectivity;
(2) integrity and honesty;
(3) accountability, transparency and openness;
(4) participation and inclusion; and
(5) being informed.