Congress urges national summit, engagement with Turnbull

National Congress co-chairs Rod Little and Dr Jackie Huggins have urged Malcom Turnbull to support a “coming together of minds” while briefing him about the damage potential funding cuts to various programs would cause.

They said the PM had promoted engagement and innovation since he took over the top job and no-one needed more of these factors than the First Peoples of this country.

During the Sydney meeting the trio discussed Congress’s current relationship with the federal government, constitutional recognition and the critical state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs generally.

Congress believes there needs to be a circuit breaker and has told the PM that it is willing to assist in addressing these matters.

“We invited the Prime Minister to support an annual national summit, a coming together of minds and souls to get everyone working together to expedite positive and lasting change,” Dr Huggins said.

“We strongly expressed our concerns about funding cuts and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and provided him with examples of how this has impacted on our people.”

The National Congress recently surveyed its members seeking initial views on Constitutional Reform.

“Congress members supported an acknowledgement in the Constitution; they also strongly indicated their support for Treaty, a prohibition on Racial Discrimination and for a body in the Constitution,” Dr Huggins said.

“We will wait and see if the Prime Minister shows some courage and actually starts engaging with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ representative voice,” Mr Little said.

“We have provided the Prime Minister with a real opportunity to build a strong relationship with the National Congress of Australia’s First People.

“Let’s not forget the high incarceration rates, suicide rates and low life expectancy.”

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