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Regional Council Chairs propose action on good governance.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

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Regional Council Chairs Propose Action on Good Governance


Statement by Terry O’Shane Chair of the ATSIC Cairns & district Regional Council April 11 2003 Yesterday a number of ATSIC Regional Council Chairpersons from across Australia came together to discuss the issue of good-governance.

During the discussion is was agreed that over the coming weeks a good-governance model for ATSIC be developed and then presented to Regional Councils across Australia for consideration and endorsement and then on to the ATSIC Board.

The model will include the following: · The continuation of the present system where the Government appropriates funds to ATSIC subject to current quarantines and general Ministerial guidelines; · The Board setting policies, priorities and program guidelines supplemented by priorities and guidelines contained in Regional Council Regional Plans; · ATSIC administration to solely exercise individual funding decisions in accordance with policies, priorities and guidelines referred to above; · Effective checks and balances to support open decision making by ATSIC’s Administration including fair review mechanisms.

The Chairs present were resolute about the need for Regional Councils to have an input into the issue of good-governance for ATSIC; collectively we are tired of the continuing stand-off between Minister Ruddock and the ATSIC Board over the different roles and responsibilities of the elected and administration arms of ATSIC.

We want a good-governance model that facilitates a clear policy direction and an out-comes-based approach from the elected arm and the implementation of our policies by the administrative arm.

It is imperative that the approximately four hundred Regional Councilors start exercising their own powerful community mandates in a more effective way within the Commission.

Regional Councilors are, after all, ATSIC officials elected by ordinary members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community across the nation and as such they are the arm of ATSIC most closely in touch with the views of our community.

It is at the regional council level that the critical work of ATSIC actually occurs and at this level we are making great progress in achieving our principal goals of economic development, employment, land justice and cultural maintenance.

Through the development of our regional plans we consult widely with our people, determine

community priorities and explore the most efficient ways of achieving those priorities with the limited resources we are allocated.

These regional plans represent the distillation of ATSIC’s raison d’etre; the delivery of programs to our communities which will improve the economic, social and cultural well-being of our people.

Our success in this matter will depend on the continued existence of a vibrant, autonomous Indigenous-led organisation that enjoys the confidence of our own people and the Australian Government.

It is time for the regional councils to start acting to ensure that a climate prevails that will allow us to get on with the job of providing advocacy and leadership for our people in order to fulfill our collective aspirations.

Further information:

ATSIC Cairns Regional Council Terry O’Shane 0417 764 992 ATSIC Media Alastair Harris 0409 658 177