ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Scrutiny of Government progress welcomed

18 March 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed last week’s public hearings on government services by the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (ATSIEB). The annual hearings provide an opportunity for scrutiny of ACT Government programs by ATSIEB.

ATSIEB was created to enable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT to have a strong democratically elected voice. It was established under the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Act 2008. Its Chairperson is Katrina Fanning PSM.

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO of ACTCOSS, said: “We acknowledge the important work of ATSIEB in the oversight of the ACT Government through the ATSIEB hearings. 

“The hearings demonstrate the critical role of ATSIEB in highlighting gaps and inequalities in the delivery of government service to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and ongoing issues of individual and systemic racism and discrimination.”

Recurring issues and gaps were revealed through the questioning by ATSIEB members which highlighted the need for:

  • Increased involvement of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the design and delivery of services
  • Accountability through improved monitoring and evaluation of programs put in place to improve the cultural competency of government employees and services
  • Investment in the recruitment, retention and progression of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in ACT Government departments and the achievement of targets for representation at senior levels of government and on ACT Government boards, committees and other governance structures; and
  • Close attention to racism and discrimination in all departments, including the justice and corrections system – an issue brought into sharp focus by last week’s media reports of a racist incident by staff at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. 

Dr Campbell said: “The hearings provide the robust scrutiny of government that the community deserves. The ACT Government must respond to the issues and gaps that have been highlighted through the ATSIEB hearings.

“If we are serious about addressing the ongoing and historic dispossession and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, the Government must be held accountable.”

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.