Justice for First Peoples
The experience of Australia’s First Peoples is one of survival, strength, resilience, and determination for a different future. Yet, the historical and social effects of racism and dispossession have led to disproportionate disadvantage across a range of measures. These include shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, poorer health, and lower levels of education and employment.
Promising inroads have been made toward Justice for First Peoples, especially through the governance of Closing the Gap via the formal agreement between governments and the Coalition of Peaks. However, we believe the Federal Government’s approach to a First Peoples voice to parliament still needs to be addressed. This initiative provides an opportunity for government to partner equally with First Peoples and write a new chapter that will respect and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians.
Evidence has shown that the voice and participation of First Peoples in decisions that affect their lives is critical to achieving lasting change, and that when they are included in the design and delivery of services that impact their lives, the outcomes are far better. UnitingCare Australia aims to provide a platform for that voice.
A First Peoples Heart
As an agency of the Assembly of the Uniting Church, UnitingCare Australia is committed to the Church’s Covenant with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) which articulates the “desire to work in solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress” to work towards “national policy changes” and “build relationships which respect self-determination”.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, nurtured and sustained by God before colonisation, are celebrated at the very heart of what it means to be Australian. First Peoples’ sovereignty is affirmed, First Peoples have a voice in the decision making of our country and are living out their right to self-determination. As First and Second Peoples, we walk together, creating socially just and culturally safe relationships, listening and learning from one another.
UnitingCare Australia in partnership with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) has established a First Peoples Network representing all our service providers and the UAICC – which is a voice that speaks on behalf of our First Peoples community. In addition, we have also created the First Peoples Working Group to progress the goals of the wider network.
Building relationships with relevant stakeholders to progress the strategic goals of the First Peoples Network is vital to our advocacy work. UnitingCare Australia is a member of the Department of Social Services Community Services Advisory Group – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledge Forum which provides First Peoples cultural expertise on Departmental programs and policy.