03/12/2020 | Steven Marshall MP

South Australia today takes its first step in establishing a Voice to Parliament.

The State’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Dr Roger Thomas, will give a historic address to the House of Assembly.

Dr Thomas will present a report on his activities over the past two years.

A major part of his work has been Aboriginal engagement reform.

The Premier’s first two-year Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan released in December 2018 committed to developing a model to enable better engagement between the Government and Aboriginal communities and for Aboriginal voices to be more represented in government decision-making.

During development of the new model, the existing South Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council has been meeting twice a year with the full Cabinet and more regularly with individual ministers and senior agency officials to provide advice across all portfolios.

The Commissioner’s report discusses the progress made in developing the new engagement model which will result in the initial establishment during 2021 of a half-elected, half-appointed body.

As the Commissioner’s report comments about the new model: ‘It will be a voice of the Aboriginal community to the Parliament of South Australia.’

Premier Steven Marshall said it was important that the Parliament, as well as the Government, was regularly and directly informed about the issues of interest and concern to Aboriginal people.

“I therefore welcome this first report by Dr Thomas which provides frank commentary on a number of issues of concern as well as discussion about policies and programs to improve the lives of Aboriginal South Australians,” Premier Marshall said.

“COVID-19 has caused some delay in consultation with Aboriginal communities about the new engagement model but as we move to its establishment, the Government will ensure adequate resources are provided to enable regular engagement with the Parliament as well as government ministers and agencies.”