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Indigenous people facing 'economic apartheid', policy shift needed

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First Nations people are facing "economic apartheid", with leading Indigenous development experts urging a national shift in policy.

Wealth creation will be top of the agenda for improving outcomes for First Nations people when the Australian National University holds a development roundtable from Wednesday.

First Nations at ANU vice-president Professor Peter Yu said government policy, which has focused on training and employment pathways, had been a "consistently flawed approach" to closing the gap over previous decades.

"This unchanged governmental stance over the past 40 years has, in effect, created a form of economic apartheid, with many outside the mainstream economy having limited avenues to pursue economic development," he said.

"It's clear the continued commitment to the same systems by Australian taxpayers is a bad investment."

Mr Yu said Indigenous Australians were becoming more asset rich, but remaining cash poor.

"Without the development of an economic self-determination framework, Indigenous Australians will continue to be second-class citizens in their own country," he said.

He said the nation is the only commonwealth country that has never signed a treaty with Indigenous people.

"Indigenous Australians are destined to manage a portfolio of rights and assets that are the subject of deliberate development constraints, working only in the mainstream economy in mainly conventional jobs for which, in most circumstances, they are not the ultimate or main beneficiary," Mr Yu said.

The Albanese government has pledged to hold a referendum on enshrining a Voice to parliament in the constitution.

It would be a body made up of First Nations people that the government would need to consult with on policy, so they can have their views heard on the laws that will impact their communities.

The government has previously said the referendum won't be called until it is confident it will succeed, which will require bipartisan support.

Story by Tess Ikonomou, AAP


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