Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Australian PM urged to plan annual visits to Aboriginal communities

Australia's prime minister has been urged by the head of his Indigenous Advisory Council to spend a week each year living among indigenous communities.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was ousted by Malcolm Turnbull last week, formed the Indigenous Advisory Council last year and promised to spend a week each year among indigenous communities.

Council head Warren Mundine Wednesday urged Turnbull to do the same.

Turnbull called Mundine earlier this week to confirm he would keep the council running under his leadership and, on Wednesday, Mundine told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that Turnbull should consider committing to similar visits such as those Abbott had undertaken.

"If we are going to keep Indigenous affairs front and centre, then it's important that the Prime Minister has those engagements at those community levels," Mundine said.

"The only way to have those engagements at community levels is actually going into Aboriginal communities."

Mundine said Turnbull should consider spending time with indigenous communities in Western Sydney, stressing that indigenous communities were not restricted to remote and rural regions.

"I would like to see it expanded not only from remote and regional communities, I would like to see it also happening in some urban communities where we can look at western Sydney and some other areas," he said.

"Western Sydney's got one of the largest Aboriginal populations in the country, in fact more people live in western Sydney than in the entire Northern Territory."

Earlier this year, then Prime Minister Abbott visited Arnhem Land, the Torres Strait Islands and the Northern Area Peninsula for a week.

Abbott had also been in consultation with indigenous leaders about constitutional recognition of the Aborignal people being Australia's first inhabitants.

Mundine said he was confident that Turnbull would continue down the same path as his predecessor.

"It will go ahead, he's a very strong advocate in the conversation in regard to the constitutional amendments, in regard to recognition of Indigenous people," Mundine said.

  Xinhua -

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