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Katie Kiss commences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner role

Callan Morse -

Australia’s new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Katie Kiss, commenced her role on Wednesday.

Ms Kiss was announced as the new Commissioner last month, replacing outgoing commissioner, June Oscar.

The proud Kaanju and Birri/Widi woman said her immediate focus will be to meet with First Nations communities around the country, hearing their perspectives on the most pressing matters facing their people.

“If we are going to improve the lives of First Nations Peoples, and if we are serious about reconciliation, healing, and unifying the nation, the voices of First Nations Peoples must be front and centre,” Commissioner Kiss said.

“I want to hear what communities think their priorities are, whether it be about Closing the Gap, youth justice reform, Native Title, truth-telling and treaty, or combatting racism and other structural barriers. 

“There is so much work to do and conversations to continue having. We need to elevate and empower our People, and this must be done together.”

Previous to her current role, Ms Kiss held numerous government positions in her home state of Queensland.

She was Executive Director of the Interim Truth and Treaty Body supporting Queensland’s Path to Treaty and held senior positions in the Queensland Government, including Chief of Staff to the Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Senior Advisor to the Deputy Premier.

“It is a real honour to take on this role, following the legacy left by the five Social Justice Commissioners who have served over the last 30 years, since Mick Dodson was appointed in 1993 in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,” Commissioner Kiss said.

“I’m also proud to be the second woman to hold this position, following the completion of June Oscar AO’s term.”

Ms Kiss’ commencement as Commissioner coincides with the 15th anniversary of Australia endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Australia initially voted against the Declaration at the UN General Assembly in 2007.

“Having been part of the team at the Australian Human Rights Commission that helped facilitate this important step in building Australia’s human rights framework, a key focus of mine will be to see the Declaration fully implemented across our country to better protect and progress the rights of First Nations People,” she said.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner is a statutory position relating to the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This includes undertaking research and education projects to promote respect for, and the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by Indigenous Australians.

Ms Kiss said she is eager to make meaningful progress in addressing systemic and structural discrimination experienced by First Nations communities.

“I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners at the Australian Human Rights Commission, as well as state and territory counterparts, our Elders, community organisations and advocates, business, health and media sectors, and governments, to champion the empowerment of our people,” Commissioner Kiss said.


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