Well thank you very much Jackie and Rod, and thank you Matilda, for your very warm Welcome to Country.
We are on the lands of the Ngambri and the Ngunawal people and I pay my very deep respect for the traditional custodians, for you, your elders, today, in the past and as we saw, the little children in the future.
I want to welcome and acknowledge all the leaders of our First Australian communities here today, acknowledge and pay our respect to them, as we do to all Indigenous Australians.
I also welcome the First Ministers and their representatives who have gathered with us today to demonstrate the responsibility, the opportunity, for Closing the Gap in partnership with our communities, rest with all levels of Government, with all Australians.
I acknowledge my many parliamentary colleagues, our Indigenous parliamentary colleagues, Ken Wyatt, Pat Dodson, Linda Burney, Malarndirri McCarthy, Jacqui Lambie. I also acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and the Leader of the Greens and of course our Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, who has been working so closely with the authors of the Redfern Statement. And we are of course, Kevin, here with you on the day after the 9th anniversary of your Apology to the Stolen Generation, which we acknowledged in the Parliament yesterday.
I thank the National Congress of Australia’s First People for its leadership in bringing together the Redfern Statement Alliance.
I thank you for your efforts to come together to identify the key priorities for Indigenous Affairs, and opportunities for Government and the community to work together more closely.
Your vision, and the call to action of the signatories of the Redfern Statement aligns with the Government’s commitment to do things with Indigenous Australians, not do things to them.
As we work together as a nation, all levels of government, to renew the Closing the Gap targets, input from the Redfern Statement Alliance will be critically important. Our intention is to redesign the targets that are expiring in partnership with our First Australians.
Now, in the last six months, I believe we have built a new relationship with Congress. In the year ahead, I want us to strengthen that further. I'll be asking members of the renewed Indigenous Advisory Council to work with the Redfern Alliance so that a broad range of views are heard and brought to bear on improving not only what we do, but the way we do it.
We'll work to ensure that the Closing the Gap initiatives are community-driven and recognise that Indigenous leaders are absolutely central - paramount - to finding the solutions in a way that supports identity and wellbeing.
We want to have more local decisions-making models and we'll continue to build the capability of governments and communities to engage in a better way of working together.
Now, I know you've commenced discussions, as you noted Jackie, with Nigel Scullion the Minister, on holding workshops to discuss practical solutions and work in more detail on a plan for the five key topics proposed in the Redfern Statement.
I believe this shows the way we're approaching a new relationship in good faith. The Indigenous Affairs Cabinet Policy Committee will attend the workshops along with Nigel Scullion, the Minister, as appropriate.
I also want us to take a moment to reflect on the progress made in addressing Indigenous disadvantage over the 50 years since the '67 referendum.
There are more Indigenous Australians in school, in universities, in employment, in business, living longer lives and in better health. We have come a long way over the last 50 years since the '67 referendum, but we have not come far enough.
There are still significant challenges that remain. That's true. But let's ensure we continue to celebrate the successes along the way. Because they are the stories that encourage and inspire and pave the way for those who will come after.
Last night, I had the privilege of meeting with many Indigenous Australians who have pursued their dreams and are succeeding. They were doctors, lawyers, nurses, disability advocates, scientists, business leaders, officers in our Defence Forces, senior public servants and so many more. Those bright Indigenous Australians, bright and often young Indigenous Australians, reflect the diversity of experience and aspiration that exist in our communities. It's vitally important that the narrative is not solely one of deficit. It must also recognise and reflect the success, the inspiration, the enterprise, the leadership.
Now, I've had the privilege in the last year of meeting with many Indigenous Australians in very a wide diversity of settings. The Indigenous Digital Excellence Conference in Redfern, full of budding young entrepreneurs. Helping to get kids to school in Yalata and Fregon. Meeting Indigenous business-owners in Brisbane. Handing back the title deeds of the Cox Peninsula to the Larrakia people in Darwin. Speaking and consoling grieving parents from the Kimberley who is suffered the pain of their children's suicide.
Now on each occasion and many more, it gave me an opportunity to listen to your stories, to understand, in awe, the resilience of our First Australians and to build a stronger bond between the Government I lead and our First Australians.
This is a relationship we'll continue to build and we look forward to working with you all, in the year ahead.
I want to thank you for your ongoing commitment, your tireless and ever-optimistic commitment, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
We will achieve much greater progress together in the years ahead and we will do so working together in collaboration, in long-lasting relationships, built on a common goal of a fair go, as Jackie said, a fair go for all - long-lasting relationships and trust and in the reconciliation that is our commitment.
Thank you very much.