Local, Independant and Effective

Adjournment - 2015 Closing the Gap Speech

Posted February 11, 2015


CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (21:10): On the eve of the Closing the Gap event, I am proud tonight to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to the elders past and present, particularly to the traditional owners and custodians of the country within the electorate I serve and represent—the electorate of Indi. On my election in 2013, I committed to three tasks relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people in my electorate, and tonight I would like to report on progress made to fulfil those commitments.

Firstly, I committed to form an advisory group to seek the advice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from Indi's communities concerning, amongst others, the issues of health, education and employment. Tonight I report that I have met with representatives of the Bangerang community, the Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, members of the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network, members of the Gadhaba Local Indigenous Network, staff and representatives of the Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation including the Koorie First Steps Kindergarten in Wodonga, the Hume Regional Healthy Lifestyle Workers Tackling Tobacco and Healthy Lifestyles, and liaison staff from the many providers of educational and health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across Indi.

In this work, I am grateful for the assistance and advice of Darren Moffitt. Darren is the Indigenous community
development broker working with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs within the Hume region. In acknowledging
the warm and frank advice I have received from the representatives of those organisations and communities, I
also wish to acknowledge Matt Burke OAM, who in July 2014, completed nearly four years of service as the
CEO of Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation, in Wodonga.

Amongst the many achievements of the corporation during his service as CEO, was the establishment, in
partnership with Wodonga based Wilson Transformer Company, of a unique and successful Aboriginal youth
traineeship, which has successfully skilled and employed 19 young people. I am delighted to let this House know
that this model is now being copied by other Australian enterprises. In acknowledging Matt Burke's service, I
also welcome to Indi Mr Michael Cutmore, who is following Matt into the CEO role.

Secondly, I committed to making a public statement, at every available opportunity, to acknowledge and
recognise past mistreatment of the stolen generations. On the 28 May 2014, I rose in this House and fulfilled the
first part of that commitment and in doing so, closed in part, the gap in the recognition of the grief, suffering and
loss which has remained open for a generation of children and their families for so long.

Thirdly, I committed to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land. Members of my office and I are now
very proud to acknowledge the traditional owners of country and pay our respects to elders past and present. We
will continue to recognise the significance of such acknowledgment and the respect it is due.

In this work I have been advised, assisted and encouraged by many. Tonight I would particularly like to thank,
for their friendship, wisdom and advice, and for the representation they give to their communities, Uncle Wally
Cooper, Uncle Freddie Dowling, Aunty Bernadette Franklin, Uncle Sandy Atkinson, Uncle Roy Patterson, Aunty
Sylvia Terare, and Aunty Pam Griffin who, in December last year, retired after 20 years work at TAFE. Thank
you all very, very much. You have taken a raw recruit, polished her, and put her in a place where she can now
speak on your behalf.

In considering the continuing national commitment made by successive governments to Closing the Gap, tonight
I acknowledge the work being done in our local communities, which is where the hand-to-hand and heart-to-heart tasks of Closing the Gap are undertaken, by those people already mentioned and by organisations such as Northeast Health in Wangaratta, Benalla Health, Albury-Wodonga Health, Women's Health Goulburn North East, Gateway Health, the many rural primary health providers, La Trobe University, Wodonga TAFE, Goulburn-Ovens TAFE and our many secondary colleges and schools. Well done.

In closing, last year the government announced the Indigenous Advancement Strategy as a means to consolidate
and provide a more efficient, effective and consistent— (Time expired)

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