2998

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Submission Number
2998
Participant
Queensland Government
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

Queensland Government response -
Indigenous Voice Co-design process
Interim Report
STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT

TO REFRAME THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES
STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES AND THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Queensland Government are building a
reframed relationship that acknowledges, embraces and celebrates the humanity of Indigenous
Australians. We are proud that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have continuing rights
and responsibilities as the first peoples of Queensland, including traditional ownership and connection
to land and waters.

In the spirit of healing, we recognise the past acts of dispossession, settlement and discriminatory
policies, and the cumulative acts of colonial and state governments since the commencement of
colonisation which have left an enduring legacy of economic and social disadvantage that many
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced and continue to experience.

It is time to nurture hope and optimism. It is time to focus on strengths and not deficits and to move
from surviving to thriving. This can only be done by the Queensland Government doing things with
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and not ‘to them’.

We will move forward together with mutual respect, recognition and a willingness to speak the truth
about our shared history. Through our continued shared commitment to reconciliation, all
Queenslanders will be part of this journey.

Background
In 2017, First Nations Australians came together and created the Uluru Statement from the
Heart, which led to the establishment of the 2018 Joint Select Committee on constitutional
recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (the Committee). The
Committee recommended in its Final Report a process for co-design between government
and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to determine the detail of a First Nations
Voice. The Australian Government Indigenous Voice Co-design process is in response to this
recommendation.

On 9 January 2021, the Australian Government released the Indigenous Voice Co-Design
Interim Report (the Interim Report), which provides proposed models for a National Voice and
a Local and Regional Voice. The proposals have been co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples and were developed by a Senior Advisory Group alongside the National
and Local & Regional Co-design Groups. Public consultation on the proposals is occurring
with a Final Report expected by mid-2021.

Queensland was represented on the Co-Design Groups and on the Senior Advisory Group
which oversaw the work of the Groups. The Department of Seniors, Disability Services and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DSDSATSIP), is also a member on the
Senior Officials Group to ensure that the co-design process continues to advance with
consideration of Queensland Government reforms.

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Executive Summary
The Queensland Government strongly supports proposals for an Indigenous Voice that ensure
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a greater say on laws, policies and services
that impact them and their lives. An Indigenous Voice provides the opportunity for Queensland
First Nations peoples to be heard on issues that affect them.

The Queensland Government’s response to the Indigenous Voice models in the Interim Report
aligns with the Statement of Commitment to reframe the relationship between the Queensland
Government and First Nations Queenslanders and notes that feedback from communities will
be crucial in refining Indigenous Voice models. The Queensland Government will continue to
collaborate with Queensland First Nations peoples and the Australian Government to develop
authentic and appropriate models for Queensland.

The key points of the Queensland Government’s response to the Interim Report are
summarised below:
• the Queensland Government is currently investigating Indigenous Voice options
including establishing a state-wide representative body through a co-design process
with First Nations peoples in Queensland. Options will consider how the proposed
state-wide body could link to the National and Local and Regional Voice models
• the Queensland Government supports the need to build on existing and emerging
structures in each jurisdiction, while also not encroaching or undermining the mandates
of existing bodies.

The Queensland Government recommends that the Australian Government take into
consideration the co-design work underway in Queensland to ensure that future Indigenous
Voice models are reflective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders views and
Queensland’s current policy settings.

It is also intended that the Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships continues to advance Queensland’s
position with relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory Indigenous Ministers to inform
Indigenous Voice developments through 2021.

The Queensland Government position
The Queensland Government response to the Interim Report’s Indigenous Voice proposals
has been informed by the need to consider the range of existing whole-of-government
Queensland reforms that are contributing to an Indigenous Voice, such as the Path to Treaty
and Local Thriving Communities reforms. Given the extensive reform landscape in
Queensland, and the importance of First Nations Queenslanders having a say on what their
preferred Indigenous Voice models are, the response to the Interim Report notes that further
co-design work is required to inform the Queensland Government’s preferred Indigenous
Voice model.

Co-design will focus on developing a Queensland Indigenous Voice model including
investigating options for the establishment of a state-wide representative body, and how this
could link with local and regional voices provided through existing reform agendas so that
communities needs and priorities are met. Importantly, this will build on the Australian
Government’s co-design processes and result in a Voice model that reflects First Nations
views and Queensland’s reform context.

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The National Voice proposal

The Interim Report proposal for a National Voice encompasses a national body made up of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that:
• could provide advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on relevant laws,
policies and programs
• could engage early with the Australian Parliament and Government in the development
of relevant policies and laws.

The proposal includes two ways members could be selected to the National Voice: (1) drawn
from a state-wide body where it exists or Local and Regional Voice structures (LRVs) in each
state, territory or Torres Strait Islands (a hybrid arrangement of these options can also be
selected); or (2) direct election through an elected state-wide body or election process held in
each state, territory and Torres Strait Islands.

Informed by co-design with Queensland’s First Nations peoples, options to establish a state-
wide representative body is being investigated by the Queensland Government. Options will
consider how the proposed body might link to local and regional governance arrangements to
contribute to the National Voice, including membership arrangements.

The Queensland Government is supportive of representation on the National Voice that
maximises both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Elders, young people, people with disability and LGBTIQ+ should also be
considered in the National Voice to ensure a diversity of views is heard. It is noted that
representation will, importantly, be informed through ongoing consultation with Queensland
First Nations peoples.

Local and Regional Voice proposal

In the Interim report, the intent of the LRV proposal is to:
• be designed and led by communities
• provide advice to all levels of government about what's important in communities and
in the region
• work in partnership with all governments to make plans on how to meet community
aspirations and deliver on local priorities
• provide regional and local views to the National Voice where this informs national
issues.

The Interim Report proposes between six to eight regions for Queensland (including the Torres
Strait Islands). Each region would ensure clear pathways for communities and groups to
participate and be involved in the decision-making process by enabling smaller geographical
areas to ‘feed into’ broader local and regional voice structures. There would be no set
structure; different regions will have different structures, based on what works for their
communities. A principles-based framework would guide and support each LRV structure.

The Queensland Government’s Voice arrangements
Queensland is investigating options to establish a state-wide representative structure to guide
decision-making on how local voices and structures will be brought together through regional
representation, and link to the National Voice. This will inform Queensland voice arrangements
in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

It is noted that the Interim Report’s LRV proposal allows for individual regional structures to
be established in jurisdictions, informed by local and regional voice arrangements. In
investigating the establishment of a state-wide representative structure, Queensland will
consider the LRV proposal to ensure that structures support and complement each other.

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Principles-based framework
The Queensland Government is supportive of the proposed LRV principles and note that they
share commonalities with the principles of current reforms in Queensland. Close alignment
exists with the principles of accountability and respectful long-term relationships, and several
principles hold similar intentions, such as empowerment and community led design. It is noted
that these alignments provide for a level of consistency to guide Queensland’s decisions and
investigations for the state-level representative body proposal.

The Queensland Government supports the key principle that LRV’s need to build on existing
and emerging structures in each jurisdiction, while also not encroaching or undermining the
mandates of existing bodies. These principles will be important to inform deliberations around
Queensland’s Indigenous Voice model and the establishment of the state-wide representative
body.

Queensland Government expectations and accountability
The Queensland Government notes the Interim Report advocates for matching legislation to
be developed to establish and formally commit to LRV structures. It is noted that options to
establish a state-wide representative body in Queensland could include consideration of a
statutory body model to give it authority and embed the approach; similar to the LRV proposal.
However the Queensland Government will not be committing to any future legislation at this
interim stage, given it has not yet determined what the options could be for Queensland’s final
Indigenous Voice model. Importantly, co-design work and consultation will be conducted with
First Nations Queenslanders to understand what these options might entail.

The Queensland Government notes the proposal for accountability mechanisms for the
National Voice such as an Ethics Council. It is anticipated that the development of
Queensland’s Indigenous Voice model will consider the need for accountability mechanisms
that complement existing Queensland Parliamentary Committee processes.

The Interim Report also outlines and proposes minimum expectations for the establishment of
LRVs. Minimum expectations include formally committing to respectful long-term partnerships,
transparency and accountability and data and evidence‐based decision-making. The
Queensland Government acknowledges the value of these expectations and note that these
align with our Tracks to Treaty – Reframing the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Queenslanders initiative and other key commitments currently enabling this reframed
relationships (see below for a summary of links to existing reforms and Appendix 1 for more
detail on the Queensland reform context). Accordingly, the investigation of Indigenous Voice
model options for Queensland including the establishment of a state-wide representative body
will further consider these expectations.

Links to Existing Queensland Government reforms
The Queensland Government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities across Queensland and is actively engaging with a broad range of
stakeholders (including communities, elected leaders and peak bodies) to jointly design,
implement and evaluate reforms that deliver on community needs and priorities.

Current whole-of-government reform agendas have therefore informed the Queensland
Government’s preliminary position on the Interim Report’s ‘Voice’ proposals, including:
• Path to treaty
• Local Thriving Communities
• Closing the Gap.

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Through the co-design processes which have underpinned these reforms, Queensland
communities have said that they want authentic and inclusive representations of Queensland
First Nations peoples, that are culturally informed, and community led.

Path to Treaty

An Eminent Panel of high profile Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous
Queenslanders, supported by a Treaty Working Group, was appointed in 2019 to guide
conversations between all Queenslanders about what a treaty might mean to them and to
provide recommendations to the Queensland Government on next steps towards a Path to
Treaty.

The Eminent Panel made eight recommendations and the Queensland Government either
accepted these in full or in-principle and committed to establishing a Treaty Advancement
Committee to provide options on how these recommendations could be implemented. The
Treaty Advancement Committee was announced in February 2021 and will provide a report
to the State Government in 2021 on the next steps to implement the recommendations.

Voice reform considerations
The key recommendation of the Eminent Panel was to establish a First Nations Treaty Institute
to oversee the actions required to progress the Path to Treaty including the establishment of
potential representative mechanisms and structures which will be informed by consultation
with First Nations peoples. Following further advice from the Treaty Advancement Committee,
the Queensland Government will consider how representation might be considered as part of
the treaty process. Key considerations of relevance to considering representation include:

• Everyone needs to be represented in the treaty process, particularly specific groups
such as Elders and youth
• Authentic representation that can speak for First Nations peoples and Country (cultural
authority)
• Community led approaches supported by First Nations Queenslanders
• Capacity-building to assist First Nations peoples to become treaty-ready.

These findings will inform Queensland’s deliberations on options to be investigated for the
establishment of a state-wide representative body, including its design and contribution to
Indigenous Voice arrangements. It is noted that the establishment of future representative
structures as part of the Path to Treaty process will need to be taken into consideration as the
Indigenous Voice to Government progresses.

Local Thriving Communities (LTC)

Under LTC, the Queensland Government has undertaken significant engagement at the local
level on shared decision-making, service design and delivery. The LTC initiative will establish
Local Decision Making Bodies (LDMBs) in remote and discrete communities, which are local
community-led representative structures that engage directly with the Queensland
Government. Through this approach, local voices will provide the platform for enhanced,
effective and sustainable engagement between communities and the Queensland
Government at a grass roots level, particularly around how services and investment are
designed and delivered.

Voice reform considerations
Noting that the Interim Report proposes that LRVs not to encroach on, or undermine, the
mandate of existing and emerging structures, options for Queensland’s Indigenous Voice
model including investigating the establishment of a state-wide representative body will

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consider how local structures such as LDMBs are appropriately and authentically represented
in Queensland voice arrangements. Key issues that will therefore be investigated as part of
Queensland’s co-design process include:
• Local community concerns around organisations and regional bodies speaking on their
behalf but not having the authority to represent their interests
• Issues of national importance being supported by representative engagement
mechanisms at the local level.

Queensland’s co-design process will address these concerns, as well as ensuring LDMBs
functions, such as providing local leadership to inform how Queensland Government services
and investment are designed and delivered, are respected and recognised.

Closing the Gap

The Queensland Government, as part of the new National Closing the Gap Agreement (the
Agreement), is currently co-designing an implementation plan for the Agreement. The
Agreement commits governments to building the capability and capacity of the community-
controlled sector, recognising that this is critical to improving life outcomes for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people. Queensland has committed $9.3 million over four years from
2021-22 to build the capability and capacity of the community-controlled sector, as part of a
national funding effort with other jurisdictions.

Queensland’s peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are looking to establish
the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coalition to provide a coordinated peak
structure on Closing the Gap that will co-design the Agreement’s implementation plan with the
Queensland Government. The soon to be established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
housing body, an action under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Action Plan,
is also likely to join QATSIC.

Voice reform considerations
Queensland’s Indigenous Voice, including deliberations focussed on options to establish a
state-wide representative body, will consider emerging partnership arrangements established
under Closing the Gap including the QATSIC and Closing the Gap co-design processes.

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Appendix 1: Queensland Reform Context
The Queensland Government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities across Queensland and is actively engaging with a broad range of
stakeholders (including communities, elected leaders and peak bodies) to jointly design,
implement and evaluate reforms that deliver on community needs and priorities.

In May 2016, the Queensland Government accepted recommendation seven of the
Reparations Taskforce Report, which called for the negotiation of a document that reframes
the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Government.

In July 2019, the Queensland Government announced its commitment to implement the Path
to Treaty and Local Thriving Communities (LTC) reforms as part of the Tracks to Treaty –
Reframing the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders initiative
and co-signed a Statement of Commitment with the former Chair of the Reparations
Taskforce, Mr Mick Gooda. The Statement of Commitment is underpinned and informed by
the following principles, which Queensland would seek to see reflected in the Indigenous Voice
co-design:
• Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of
Queensland;
• Self-determination;
• Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures;
• Locally led decision-making;
• Shared commitment, shared responsibility and shared accountability;
• Empowerment;
• Free, prior and informed consent; and
• A strengths-based approach to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples to support thriving communities.

There are many Queensland Government actions that are facilitating a reframed relationship
with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including:
• the addition to the preamble to the Queensland Constitution in 2010 to honour
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians;
• the implementation of the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-
2021;
• the commencement of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) which in its preamble
acknowledges the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples;
• the passage of the Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional
Child Rearing Practice) Act 2020 which provides for the legal recognition of
traditional Torres Strait Islander child rearing practices;
• the establishment of the Queensland First Children and Families Board;
• the implementation of Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander children and families, 2017-2037;
• the appointment of the First Nations Advisor for Housing, the Chief Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Health Officer and the Deputy Director-General of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Division;
• the commencement of the Health and other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 which
aims to strengthen the commitment to health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples;
• the implementation of the Department of Environment and Science’s Gurra Gurra
Framework 2020-2026;

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• the implementation of the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital
Economy’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement Framework;
• the co-design of Local Housing Plans with remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander communities and the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peak housing body through the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Housing Action Plan 2019-2023;
• the establishment of the First Nations Art and Cultures Panel through the
implementation of the whole-of-government Creative Together 2020-2030: A 10-Year
Roadmap for arts, culture and creativity in Queensland;
• the implementation of the Third Action Plan of the Domestic and Family Violence
Prevention Strategy 2019-20 and 2021-22;
• the implementation of Queensland’s Framework for Action: Reshaping our Approach
to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence; and
• the implementation of the 2020 Framework for Stronger Community Justice Groups.

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