Queensland Democrats’ Senator Andrew Bartlett has backed the idea of a national summit to address Indigenous disadvantage and opportunity, but it will be a ‘once in a lifetime chance’ to make a difference if it is run very differently from the usual Ministerial talkfest.
"I suggest we have a summit in the House of Representatives where all politicians and media just sit and listen, while as many Indigenous leaders are given the opportunity to give their views on what needs to be done and what has failed in the past. This may take a few days, but after such a long legacy of major failure, I think we can afford a week or two to properly hear Indigenous views on the issue for the first time."
"Politicians and press have spoken ad nauseam on the issue, but we have collectively failed to address it. The House of (un)Representatives has heard speeches from politicians for over 100 years, reported on by the media, including speeches from Presidents of the USA and the top dictator of China, yet it has never in all that time heard an Indigenous voice."
"Indigenous women have been the most vocal in the community for decades seeking help for violence, hopelessness and substance abuse. Yet there has never been an Indigenous woman in either house of Australian Parliament. They must have a voice."
"Many people already know of the reports, inquiries, recommendations, programs and promises that have been directed towards these issues for many years. The fact is that governments, Parliaments and the mainstream media have had the most control and influence over these matters over all that time."
"Unless we start to acknowledge that we have all failed to fix this problem, we will not find the pathway to working better with the only people who can finally fix it, which is the Indigenous people and the communities themselves," concluded Senator Bartlett.