Overdue indigenous commission on its way: government

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ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.

ACTION towards creating an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s commission will not be set in motion until an empathetic territory model “reflects what the community desires”. 

An ACT government and parliamentary agreement has ensured that new Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury’s portfolio brief states the proposed commission remains an “institutional priority” following on from last year’s October election.

But the Canberra Liberals have accused the coalition government of not adhering to its timeframe after suggesting promises that the commission would consult and develop a model sometime between late 2020 and early 2021 that has now passed.

“I have been very clear with my priorities to the directorate and I don’t recall making that indication with them at any point in time,” Mr Rattenbury said.

This extends to appointing an inaugural commissioner within two years.

Minister for Human Rights Tara Cheyne, who has been working with Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Rachel Stephen-Smith, on addressing the systematic issues that has continued to plague Canberra’s indigenous youth communities, said “work has been underway on this for sometime”.

Indigenous communities have already asked the ACT government to urgently implement recommendations from a report that investigates the high incarceration of young people from the release of the Productivity Commission’s report on government services.

Ms Cheyne said an announcement will suit the young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and not the political taunts of the ACT opposition.

“We’re not going to announce government policy, but it is absolutely a commitment for this government, it is the parliamentary and government agreement, it is something that we’ve committed to,” she said, “and we wanna work with the community to make sure that we do get it right and that it reflects what the community desires.”

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