Oxfam Australia Urges Government To Develop New Relationship With First Australians

Oxfam Australia Says The Country Needs To Do More To Fight Climate Change

Aid agency Oxfam has expressed its support for calls that urge the Australian Government to develop a new relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as commit to funding the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. The calls came at a breakfast event last month at Parliament House. The event saw Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peak organisations formally hand over the Redfern Statement to Malcolm Turnbull.

Still getting the short end of the stick

Helen Szoke Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive said whilst there had been some improvements during the decade since the community driven initiative to Close the Gap first started, Indigenous Australian still continue to receive the short end of the stick on a range of measures which is unacceptable. According to Dr Szoke the life span of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples is more than 10 to 17 years shorter than non-Aboriginal Australians. They also claim the highest suicide rates globally and are being imprisoned at unprecedented rates.

The relationship needs to be reset

Last June Oxfam joined forces with several indigenous and non-indigenous organisations across Australia to show its support for the launch of the Redfern Statement. The Statement calls for the relationship between the Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be reset. The statement also urges the Australian Government to provide funding for Indigenous programs and adopt the policies proposed by Indigenous leaders and organisations.

The Government has been cutting funding

Dr Szoke says that decisions taken by the Federal Government such as more than $500 million in cuts to Indigenous programs and the defunding of the National Congress suggest that policy makers were talking the talk but not walking the walk. Dr Szoke added that many Indigenous leaders are labelling the present situation a crisis. They argue that the Government is simply paying lip service to Close the Gap targets. If the Government does not meaningfully engage with the community, another generation could be condemned to face the acute poverty and injustice of present day Aboriginals.

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