Indigenous Victorians gather

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By Marcus Pearce

Indigenous Australians often feel without a voice, in fact there isn’t an Indigenous person in the Victorian Parliament, or in our City Council.

So, over 80 indigenous people from surrounding communities in Victoria, known as Local Indigenous Networks (LINs), gathered together to discuss and identify local issues in which to develop priorities, planning towards a brighter future.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins asserts, “I’m dedicated to working alongside Aboriginal people in closing the gap. The work of Local Indigenous Networks is an important step towards achieving this goal.”

LINs was first established under the Bracks Government so that indigenous people can take an active part in building and strengthening Victoria’s indigenous communities. There is now 39 Local Indigenous Networks working together.

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins stated, “This first gathering of the 39 Local Indigenous Networks is a significant milestone in ensuring Aboriginal people have a strong voice to affect local change.”

The Andrews Labor Government has also jumped on board in recognising LINs importance of having a voice and making a stand for their communities.

This shows the Government’s commitment in the significant importance of indigenous people being the centre of decision making for their own communities.

Some of the issues and priorities raised and discussed over the 3 day gathering were.

  • Increasing youth participation
  • Supporting local initiatives such as men’s group and homework centre’s
  • Building relationships with government service providers and organisations
  • Advancing cultural strengthening projects

On the same weekend this gathering happened, another gathering happened down the road. Frustrated Indigenous Victorian members of the local communities rallied together in the Melbourne CBD at the intersection of Flinders and Swanson St over the forced closure of remote Australian Indigenous communities. Similar rallies happened in Sydney and Brisbane.

A criticism often levelled at the Government of the day is that while the right things are said about recognition, positive change and closing the gap, success has remained elusive for decades.  Things have remained the same: Poor health care, poverty, lack of education, homelessness, racism, drug and alcohol addiction, criminalisation and ridicule. All these issues still carry on to this day despite all these policies the Government keeps pitching at us. They keep making proclamations in the media, but it often falls on deaf ears.

Hence it is left up to the Indigenous community leaders and Activists, to affect change. It is these people that educate and bring to light the truth of what really goes on behind closed doors in their communities.

Don’t forget this is a country that prides its self on giving everyone ‘A fair go’ – so why are the Indigenous Australians excluded?

Will this appalling issue ever be resolved? If history is an indicator, it won’t. It’s up to us the public to further educate ourselves and make an individual decision to stand alongside the Indigenous people against injustice. There is unity in diversity so let us all unite to have these voices not just heard but to get some real action put into play.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

To make a difference you must not only recognise and understand; you must also change your attitude and except the differences of not only one side but of both.

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