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Community feedback report 671.75 KB

In 2018, the State Government sought community views about a proposal to establish an independent statutory office for advocacy and accountability in Aboriginal affairs. Feedback was provided by a range of individuals, groups and government agencies, just under half of whom were Aboriginal people or organisations.

The State Government received a total of 77 written submissions and held 43 verbal discussions about the proposal. In July 2019, it released a Community Feedback Report, which outlined the main ideas and concerns raised through the feedback process.

Feedback received in response to the discussion paper will now inform a model for the new office that will be considered by the Government. It is anticipated that new funding and supporting legislation will be required, therefore the proposal will be contingent on budgetary and Parliamentary processes.

This Community Feedback Report outlines the main ideas and concerns raised through the feedback process. Every response was read or listened to thoroughly and this report provides a broad summary of those views. Direct quotes from submissions or consultations have been included in the document where they represent a widespread or otherwise significant viewpoint.

This report is based on all feedback received—written and verbal. Overall, responses varied greatly. Not all submissions addressed the same issues. Some followed the structure of the discussion paper in full, while others only discussed certain components of the proposal.

Just under forty-five percent of those we heard from (53/120) were Aboriginal people or organisations. Some non-Aboriginal organisations also included comments and advice from Aboriginal staff, members and/or reference groups in their feedback. Overall, there was no single, distinct stance or viewpoint evident in these responses. Amongst the feedback received from Aboriginal sources, there were areas of broad agreement and also of clear disagreement; these patterns did not differ greatly from the range of opinions provided by non-Aboriginal contributors.

Some Key Findings:

  • The vast majority of responses favoured the proposal, although many emphasised that it should be “done properly”, be well resourced, and that Aboriginal people should be heavily involved.
  • Some respondents were concerned that the proposal might not deliver its aims, and a small number stated they would rather see the Government prioritise other ways of improving outcomes for Aboriginal people.
  • The Function of the Office:
    Most responses agreed that the office should be free to determine the scope and extent of its business in conjunction with Aboriginal people, and that its key functions should be advocacy and accountability. Some submissions stressed the importance of Aboriginal people having an easily recognisable, approachable and culturally safe agency they can contact with their concerns.
  • Many stated that the office’s main business should include:
    1. Engaging with Aboriginal people and helping to build community capacity;
    2. Making recommendations on government policies and programs;
    3. Promoting Aboriginal culture and achievements, and meaningful engagement by government agencies.
  • Office Structure and Powers:
    1. Respondents agreed that the new office should be independent and established under legislation. Some thought that all or most of the staff in the office should be Aboriginal.
    2. Having a regional presence or network was stressed as important, to account for the diversity of Aboriginal people across Western Australia.
    3.Most agreed that the office should be accountable to Parliament and Aboriginal people.
    4. Some submissions recommended having two key office holders a man and a woman or reasons of inclusiveness and cultural protocol.
  • Naming the Office:
    Feedback largely supported Aboriginal people being involved in deciding the name, although some names were proposed; the term 'Commissioner' being widely endorsed. There were diverging views about 'First Nations' and 'Aboriginal'. Using words or phrases from a specific Western Australian Aboriginal language was not recommended, as it would not be inclusive of the diversity of languages across the State.
  • Office Appointment Process:

    1. Almost all responses agreed that Aboriginal people should be involved in the appointment process. Many thought this should include developing the selection criteria and choosing the successful applicant.
    2. A selection panel drawn from respected Aboriginal people was a common suggestion.
    3. It was agreed that the office holder should be an Aboriginal person from Western Australia.

The Government is now considering the extensive feedback received as part of the first stage of consultation. A report will be released providing details on the preferred model as informed by the feedback received during the first consultation process. There will then be a further opportunity for comment and consultation before any draft legislation is introduced into Parliament.


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