Proper community engagement key to closing the gap
The Local Government Association of Queensland is calling for the new Closing the Gap agreement to be driven by the country’s Indigenous communities.
Councils want new targets included to address housing and overcrowding as well as incarceration rates.
“The top down approach has been shown to be ineffective. The new agreement must be Indigenous-led and must consider community views,” LGAQ president Mayor Mark Jamieson said of the latest Closing the Gap report showing just two of the seven targets are on track to be achieved.
Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor and LGAQ policy executive member Fred Gela said the only way for the new agreement to succeed was if communities were given a stronger voice and continuously consulted along the way.
“This country is so diverse. In order to be effective in that space, engagement involving key stakeholder groups in regional areas and rural and remote communities is integral.
“That ground-truthing is the only way to inform and create better policies.
“Up here in the Torres Strait, there has been nil engagement.
“They need to be able to engage and it needs to be mandatory that they have to engage.”
Mayor Gela said it was crucial housing and incarceration rates were included as targets in the new agreement.
“We have been trying to broker and advocate for investment to continue in addressing homelessness and overcrowding in our remote communities.
“That issue hasn’t been addressed.
“The incarceration rate of our people represented in prisons is higher than any other ethnic group within this country.
“The reasoning behind that, in reference to why it is happening, that needs to be one of the key things we collectively need to focus on addressing.
“Closing the gap is everyone’s business. If we are going to improve and address this, we need to do it collectively.”
Mayor Jamieson said he supported the comments of Mayor Gela.
“Local government mayors and councillors live in these communities.
“They are ideally positioned to know what will or won’t work on the ground.
“The government must learn to harness the wisdom of these local people and not overly rely on input from capable but less-connected indigenous spokespeople.”
Cover image credit: http://www.peopleorienteddesign.com.au/projects-research/research/housing-conditionality-and-tenancy-palm-island-uq
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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