Governments are committed to building respectful and collaborative relationships with Indigenous people, marked by open dialogue and mutual respect and responsibility.
Through improved engagement, Indigenous people are being made central to the design and delivery of services and programs. The aim is to build responsibility and capacity at the personal and community level and lay the basis for lasting change.
Connection to culture is also critical to personal and community wellbeing. Pride in culture plays a vital role in shaping people’s aspirations and choices. Closing the Gap recognises and builds on the strengths of Indigenous cultures and identities, with assistance from a range of cultural programs.
Government is also working to strengthen the cultural awareness and competence of policy makers and front-line staff.
Australian Government initiatives that are restoring and strengthening relations with Indigenous people include:
- the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and in particular the Stolen Generations (February 2008)
- promoting constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians
- support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- creation of a new national Indigenous representative body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
- changes to the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) including restoration of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, after an extensive period of review and consultation, and further consultations in 2011 that have informed directions for the future after the NTER ends in mid-2012
- establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
- expanded Link Up (family reunion) services for the Stolen Generations
- establishing a Stolen Generations Working Partnership to ensure the voices of the Stolen Generations continue to be heard
- the repatriation of Indigenous ancestral remains and secret-sacred objects from Australian and overseas collecting institutions
- support for the work of Reconciliation Australia
- encouraging Indigenous people to exercise their citizenship rights through the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.