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Truth-telling, local voices still on government's radar

Alex Mitchell -

Truth-telling along with local and regional voices remain on the government's agenda despite the failed referendum earlier this year.

Indigenous Australians minister Linda Burney will attend a Closing the Gap meeting on Friday, along with Aboriginal affairs ministers around the nation and peak body representatives.

Just a month on from the failed Indigenous voice referendum, Ms Burney acknowledged that how community can move forward from the setback, would be top of the agenda.

She said there would be specific discussions about housing, education and inland water targets.

But she wouldn't close the door on the government's commitment to the Uluru Statement, which calls for a truth-telling process and a treaty along with a voice.

"Very much what I'm hearing moving around the country is 'what does it mean for the rest of the Uluru statement?'" Ms Burney told ABC Radio.

"In particular, I'm hearing the importance of truth-telling. I am not saying I've got a model in my mind, but I am saying that what I'm hearing very clearly from Aboriginal communities is the importance of truth-telling."

The voice proposal had included a number of local and regional dialogues that would feed into a national body.

The minister said a similar consultative framework at the local level remained a "very live discussion", pointing to voice models operating in Australian states and territories.

"There are structures across Australia and they have to be self-determined, it's not up to government to say 'this is the way you do things'," she said.

"But our job is to make sure that we implement the things that were promised in the last election … what's most crucial, in my view, is to make sure we come up with a considered way forward, not a grab bag."

Of the 19 national socio-economic Closing the Gap targets, just four were on track in data released earlier this year.

"We've also got some of the targets in Closing the Gap that are actually going backwards, and that's completely unacceptable," Ms Burney said.

Alex Mitchell - AAP


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