Pat Turner speech - CONVERGE Conference, Lismore NSW (5 May 2021)
Lismore - 5 May 2021 – 9:45am (plenary session/approx. 15-20mins)
Good morning everyone, I would like to thank First Nations Media Australia and the Koori Mail for inviting me here today to make this address. SPEECH
I also thank and acknowledge the Bundjalung people, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of whose lands we are meeting on. I pay my respects to their elders Elder’s past and present. I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands some of us are joining from online today.
I am both delighted and inspired to be here today, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Koori Mail and the coming together of one of the most vibrant community-controlled sectors – the First Nations community-controlled media network.
My name is Pat Turner, I am the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak organisations.
Foremost, I am here as an Aboriginal woman – the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman.
That is how we are all here:
- as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- with our own stories to tell
- to help other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tell their stories; and
- to help provide services and supports that meet the expressed needs of our peoples and communities.
Today is an opportunity to celebrate our growing voices; our growing services; and our presence in this country, that is being re-claimed.
The Koori Mail was started by Owen Carriage, a Walbunja man, who was impassioned to start an Aboriginal newspaper, due to frustrations of misrepresentations of Indigenous stories in the mainstream media.
The Koori Mail’s first edition was just 24 pages, in black and white, and read by around 25,000 people.
Today, the Koori Mail averages close to 100 pages, is alive with colour, and reaches more than 100,000 readers right around Australia every fortnight.
Thirty years of our stories.
If it is important to our mob, you’ll find it in the pages of the Koori Mail.
This is how many of our community-controlled organisations formed.
Dissatisfied with services and supports that were being provided to us.
Dissatisfied with how we were being represented in the mainstream.
Dissatisfied that we, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, were not being acknowledged in mainstream services.
Our peoples have been coming together for decades now, rising to the challenge, and building organisations around the issues that are important to us – in health, legal services, early childhood, healing, and of course media.
The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Peaks Organisations formed with a similar purpose – to have our stories, the stories of our organisations, members and communities – front and centre in government decision making on policies and programs that have a significant impact on us.
We were dissatisfied with the way governments have been making decisions about us, without us being at the table and making them too.
And we have all been dissatisfied, angry, with the lack of control over our own lives and the corresponding lack of positive outcomes for our peoples.
The Coalition of Peaks – now over fifty-five community-controlled peaks and organisations – have made some progress in having our voices heard in government decision making.
Together with all Australian government and Local Government, the Coalition of Peaks negotiated a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The National Agreement sets out commitments from all governments to change the way they work and support our organisations and communities.
The majority of these commitments are centred around four priority reforms:
- building and strengthening structures that empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share decision-making authority with governments
- strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors
- systemic and structural transformation of mainstream government organisations to improve accountability and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
- shared access to data and information at a regional level to support community decision making.