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Australian forum on indigenous issues

FORUM POINTS WAY TO STRONGER INDIGENOUS FAMILIES & COMMUNITIES

Indigenous and community leaders have mapped out a way forward to tackle the major issues affecting indigenous communities.

An Indigenous Families and Communities and Roundtable held in Canberra this week has agreed on a range of key principles to govern the design and implementation of programmes for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Roundtable was co-chaired by the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, and the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Senator John Herron.

Senator Herron said: "We now have instructions on a new approach to a partnership between governments, indigenous communities and families."

"The problems that exist today are best resolved at local levels and it is up to government to provide opportunities for indigenous Australians to shape a better future for future generations."

Senator Newman said that the Roundtable recommendations would provide valuable guidance in the allocation of $20 million earmarked for indigenous communities under the Federal Government's Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

"The solutions put forward by the Roundtable today will go towards building on existing strengths and assets within indigenous families and communities, rather that a one size fits all approach," Senator Newman said.

Key principles agreed by the Roundtable included:

> Relevant Government programmes should be delivered on a strategic, coordinated and a whole-of-Government basis. Programmes should be based on the views and aspirations of whole communities and indigenous people themselves should have a central role in the design, planning and delivery of services.

> Government should give urgent attention to targeting the needs of children and young people, particularly in the areas of leadership training, self esteem building , awareness of one's culture and family, and anti-violence training.

> Governments should give priority to encouraging self-reliance, sustainable economic and social development.

The Roundtable nominated a Working Group to provide ongoing advice. The Roundtable reconvenes in six months.

Further enquiries can be made via www.australia.org.nz

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