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What next for NCIE? Stakeholders reveal how community will have say in Redfern Indigenous centre's future

Jarred Cross -

Redfern locals will finally have a say in conversations about the future of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence from next week, according to former Aboriginal social justice commissioner Mick Gooda.

On August 17 it was announced Mr Gooda had stepped forward as a mediator between the community and NCIE managing bodies the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.

It comes after the ILSC's failed handover to the state's land council and backflip on the closure of facilities brought about by mass community outrage at the news.

Despite the reinstated operation of the NCIE's fitness and aquatic centres, protests continued, in large part due to the silencing of community input.

Mr Gooda said centres such as the NCIE were "always fraught".

"You got to make sure you're handing them to the right mob," he said.

"Something like this is particularly fraught, because my understanding is that the community hasn't been involved in the work.

"My job has always been just making sure I amplify the voices out of communities and those forces at the moment are those 16 (community) organisations."

The organisations identified, many of which operate out of the NCIE, include Tribal Warrior.

The group runs mentor programs for Aboriginal youth, families and individuals caught up in the jail system.

Tribal Warrior chief executive and Redfern Aboriginal Alliance member Shane Phillips has been vocal with his disappointment at the handling of the situation.

In the days following the saga a cultural fire was lit by community members on NCIE grounds to represent their invitation to the NSWALC and ILSC to engage.

"Our invitation had been open for almost three weeks and no one was responding," Mr Phillips said.

"Both of these well-resourced, government-backed organisations showed no sign of talking to us."

On Saturday NSWALC and ILSC agreed to include the NCIE community in consultation.

It resulted in the burning fire symbolically replaced with another custom.

"Although the fire is being extinguished, message sticks are being created in its place to mark the need for continuing dialogue," Mr Phillips said.

Redfern Youth Connect chief executive Margaret Haumono said the NCIE was established in part as a response to community grief, highlighting the need for the centre's prosperity to continue its work amid Saturday's developments.

"This is a long journey of justice for our young people," she said.

"Today we take the next step, but the fight is not over yet."

Mr Gooda said bringing all organisations to the table was key to finding a resolution.

Formal sit downs between all parties are set set to begin next week.

It's understood a confirmed date has not been locked in.


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