SUBMISSIONS RELATING TO ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES
‘If Australia is to regard itself as an advanced, equitable, western democracy it must eliminate the major economic and social disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.’ – IBCA, submission to MAP
The Indigenous Business Council of Australia (IBCA) supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses becoming an integral part of the Australian economy. While Australia is successful in the global economy, IBCA said it is important this wealth and success is shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They recognise Australian governments have attempted to close gaps through welfare, training and employment creation, but they propose that increased support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector would also yield positive economic results.
The Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council (IHEAC) advises the Australian Government on higher education, research and training issues in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education students and staff. It aims to increase participation in higher education and higher education policy development, and to support higher education institutions to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. IHEAC’s submission to the ABS aspired for improved outcomes in higher education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, so
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share in all that Australian society has to offer.’
They suggested improved measures of educational participation and outcomes by focusing on advantage and strength, rather than simply attainment.
The Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in the Department of Health and Ageing suggested including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific aspirations and measures in MAP, and comparisons with non-Indigenous populations. They suggested equity and equality as social and economic goals, as well as the freedom to express ethnic, cultural and religious identity and difference; social justice and social cohesion; work/life balance; and freedom from discrimination.
The ABS spoke to representatives from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and BioMed Central: International Health and Human Rights, who emphasised the importance of showing how progress differs across regions and for different groups, in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and that national aggregate statistics on their own can mask this information. They suggested data addressing these issues should be a prominent feature of MAP, rather than a supplementary feature, and pointed to their paper about indigenous well-being (Cooke et al. 2007) which discusses Australia’s achievements in this area when compared with other similar countries.