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Jacinta Price rejects call for Indigenous self-determination to Close The Gap

Dechlan Brennan -

Opposition spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, has responded to the Productivity Commission report released on Wednesday which found governments had largely not fulfilled their commitments in relation to Closing the Gap, saying the recommendations were not the answer.

The Country Liberal Party senator's remarks are at odds with many Indigenous health, legal and human rights groups, who say decisions that impact Indigenous people should be put in the hands of Indigenous people, as recommended by the report as a part of the solution to closing the gap.

Appearing on Sky News, the Warlpiri/Celtic senator told host Andrew Bolt: "To simply suggest that a group of Australians, based on their racial ethnicity, know what's best for that particular racial ethnicity, and determining that organisations who are run by majority of people with that ethnicity be given all the money and the responsibility doesn't actually mean it will produce any outcomes and we're seeing that over again."

"The Productivity Commission can make all the suggestions they want, but it is such that we should stop treating Australians on the basis of race and start treating the need…supporting those programs that are actually providing outcomes," she said.

The Senator also reiterated her calls for an audit and Royal Commission into Indigenous-led organisations and child-safety into Indigenous communities, which have been rejected by both the Federal Government and grassroots Indigenous groups, with the later arguing solutions already exist but haven't been enacted.

Senator Price agreed with Mr Bolt when he claimed removing children should be done without "pandering" to calls to "remove fewer of them."

"Indigenous children are Australian citizens, they deserve to have their human rights upheld just like any other kids in this country; not treated differently because of their race," Senator Price said.

"Unfortunately, we've got an ideological child protection system in place that favours this concept of 'country' and 'culture' over their human rights to have live a dignified life where they have education; where their health is taken care of; where the people that are the responsible adults in their households are actually loving them and caring for them."

The Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, which legislates Aboriginal children should be raised, where possible, in connection with their community, is a key tenet of the child-protection system.

The legislation is "to ensure that, recognition is given to an Aboriginal child's right to be raised in their own culture and, to the importance and value of family, extended family, kinship networks, culture and community in raising, — 'growing up'— Aboriginal children."

Senator Price's comments are not the first time her ideas have run contrary to other Indigenous bodies. During the referendum the Senator sparked controversy when she argued there were no ongoing negative impacts of colonisation, which was criticised by multiple organisations and individuals.

The idea of Indigenous-led responses was a strong theme throughout the report released Wednesday.

Commissioner Romlie Mokak, a Djugun man and member of the Yawuru people, said "efforts to improve outcomes are far more likely to succeed when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lead their design and implementation".

"Nothing will change until this model of partnership, based on genuine power sharing, becomes the rule and not the exception," he said.

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