Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has announced who will make up the new group tasked with bringing an Indigenous voice to government.
The body will be co-chaired by Larrakia woman and Aboriginal Broadcasting Australia head Dr Donna Odegaard, and an unnamed senior official from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. They will be joined by 15 members who will “develop models for a national voice” to the federal government.
Appointees include National Native Title Council CEO Jamie Lowe, Palawa Elder Rodney Dillon, Indigenous rights advocate Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, Wadjuk traditional owner Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker, SNAICC CEO Richard Weston, Wiradjuri woman Katrina Fanning, Worimi man Damian Griffis, Warlpiri man Steve Wanta Patrick Jampijinpa, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation deputy chair Joseph Elu, Nira illim bulluk man Marcus Stewart, Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service CEO Zell Dodd, and Jawoyn and Wiradjuri woman Kristal Kinsela-Christie.
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, former president of the Law Council of Australia Fiona McLeod, and former Aboriginal affairs minister Fred Chaney have also joined the group.
Wyatt said the team and an in-the-works local and regional co-design group would bring about “real and lasting change” for Australia.
“Indigenous Australians want their voices heard at all levels of government and want to help shape the policies and programs that affect their lives,” he said.
“This group will work on options to have Indigenous voices heard on the national stage and take a model to Indigenous leaders, communities and stakeholders around the country to refine.”
The group will be assisted by the Senior Advisory Group, co-chaired by Professor Marcia Langton and Professor Tom Calma.
Odegaard said the co-design process was an “unprecedented opportunity” to bring the many voices of Indigenous people together.
“We cannot expect to succeed in changing our future as Indigenous Australians if we do not bring each other along. Working together towards the same goal, within the same framework that we establish, gives us greater chance of success but we must expect hard work, determination and dedication,” she said.
“We can do it, we just have to be genuinely committed. I have been committed to this for most of my life and I’m certain most of us are.”
In 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison Scott Morrison rejected the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, which had called for an Indigenous voice to be enshrined in the constitution.
Wyatt announced his hopes for a referendum to be held to achieve constitutional recognition shortly after he became the first Indigenous Australian to hold the Indigenous affairs portfolio last year. He received pushback from his party, shifting the focus to Indigenous voice to government instead.