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Linda Burney reveals priorities as record First Nations cohort prepares to enter parliament

Giovanni Torre -

Australia's new Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney has named the Uluru Statement from the Heart and closing the gap as her two top priorities.

Ms Burney, a Wiradjuri woman representing Barton, New South Wales, in the House of Representatives, will be sworn in as the first Indigenous female to hold the portfolio next week.

"Obviously the top priority is the Uluru Statement from the Heart but it needs to be equally seen with the Close The Gap targets and implementing the commitments we made prior to the election in full," she said.

"A number of those are in other people's portfolios like health, education, foreign affairs, attorney general, so it will involve working closely with those ministers in terms of implementation across the board."

Ms Burney said there were many pressing "day to day" matters to address, including this week's controversy around the secret burial of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady.

She said an investigation would also be conducted into the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (Youpla).

"Stephen Jones (Minister of Financial Services) will have responsibility for that," Ms Burney said.

"We don't know all of our options yet but we know it is very problematic, it is despicable what's happened.

"I am not sure what the options are but we need the full inquiry to fully understand the history of this mob."

On heritage reform Ms Burney said she would work with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance and the environment portfolio to probe implementing standalone Aboriginal heritage protection which outlines minimum standards for states and territories.

"This is not something you would unilaterally do, you would talk to all the parties who would be impacted, including the states and territories but its' something very strongly understood by the Labor Party and the experience of Juukan Gorge is at the forefront of our minds," she said.

Native title reform is also on the cards, with Ms Burney keen to look to WA Senator Patrick Dodson for advice on the issue.


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