The worrying state of issues raised in the Closing the Gap report have led to calls for government to rely more on advice from indigenous community leaders in regional Australia.
Northern-based Senator Ian Macdonald has today urged state and federal governments to consult more with leaders who have ”skin in the game”.
“We should be using the people who are on the ground,” he said
Senator Macdonald called upon the government not to be basing its actions on the advice of academics and bureaucrats from the southern capitals when the indigenous communities themselves have their own duly elected and accountable representatives.
“We don’t need advisory bodies..(indigenous communities) have elected representatives,” he said.
The Senator went on to list for the record a number of elected Indigenous community leaders who are currently serving as mayors or leaders of local government authorities. These included Cr Fred Pascoe (Carpentaria Shire Mayor), Cr Alf Lacey (Palm Island Mayor) and Cr Pedro Stevens (Torres Strait Mayor).
“They are the people who should be listened to and taken into confidence”, he said
Senator Macdonald acknowledged the genuine commitment of Prime Minister Abbott and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to the welfare of indigenous Australians, and noted that the task at hand is a challenging one.
“But they are just not getting the right advice from people with skin in the game.”
“I’m not saying that what I am suggesting will ‘close the gap’ tomorrow, but I make this plea,”
“You’ve got to take these people into confidence because they are the leaders of their communities and if they don’t do the right thing by their communities they won’t be there after the next election
“These are the sort of people they should be taking advice from, not from southern politicians, bureaucrats and academics – well meaning all but from this far away, people who really do not have skin in the game,”