Director-General's message

"During the past year we have worked very hard on improving our services, our systems and our performance. We worked to improve economic participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders, enhance home and land ownership in Indigenous communities, deliver reconciliation outcomes through the wages and savings Reparations Scheme, and contributed to the development of a significant whole-of-government reform agenda."

It is my pleasure to present to you the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships’ (DATSIP) Annual Report for 2016–17. This report provides a review of our performance in delivering our vision to ensure Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people participate fully in Queensland’s vibrant economic, social and cultural life.

This has once again been a very productive year for the department as we continued to build strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representatives and Elders, whilst strengthening the bonds with our strategic partners.

The department also achieved a significant milestone through the merger of the state-owned and operated Retail Stores in six remote Aboriginal communities with the stores under the IBIS operations in the Torres Strait. In consultation with the communities, the merger transferred ownership and management of Retail Stores to an independent body — Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ). CEQ is managed by a 10 person board with strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation.

The year delivered a number of other highlights including the hand back of state-owned land and national parks to Traditional Owners, including areas known as Sandstone West, Shelburne Bay and Bromley. We also continued to provide a range of activities related to infrastructure and coordination in remote and discrete communities and secured additional funding for the expanded role of the Remote Indigenous Land and Infrastructure Program.

We commenced a new phase of partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to refresh the Closing the Gap framework agenda. Activities included Closing the Gap Roundtables held in Brisbane and Cairns, strengthening our partnerships with the Mayors of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils and continuing to support the Ministerial and Government Champions Program in partnership with remote communities.

In March 2017, the Queensland Government convened a historic Indigenous Community Cabinet in Cairns, the first of its kind in Queensland’s history. It brought together all Ministers, Directors-General and the Mayors of discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, where the Indigenous Mayors tabled their priorities.

Through our ongoing collaboration with the Mayors of Indigenous councils we continued to promote the activities of White Ribbon Australia to end men’s violence against women. In May 2017, fifteen Mayors pledged their commitment to ending domestic and family violence.

In 2016–17, the Honourable Curtis Pitt MP, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment commissioned the Queensland Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry into service delivery in Queensland’s remote and discrete Indigenous communities. We look forward to receiving the outcomes of the inquiry in 2017–18 to guide the work of the Queensland Government for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We have also continued to build the capability of our staff, implemented key initiatives to improve our workforce diversity and embedded innovation into our organisational culture. Key areas of focus included continuing our Women in Leadership Program, staff development and building a talent pipeline, providing ongoing support for staff to undertake study and obtain qualifications, and providing opportunities for staff to undertake professional development through inter-agency secondments.

The department values workforce diversity with 32.2 per cent of staff, including at the executive and senior management level, identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of Ron Weatherall, our previous Deputy Director-General of Policy, who retired during the year. Ron was closely involved in developing and implementing all of our department’s major Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and reform initiatives over the past seven years.

It is our mission to increase and improve economic and community participation and promote the cultural recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. As a department we are committed to providing leadership across government to increase Indigenous representation and leadership at all levels within the Queensland Public Service. We support future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and seek the wisdom of current leaders and Elders in undertaking our work.

"Over the coming year we will continue to build on our collective efforts to ensure the equality, recognition and advancement of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people across all aspects of society and everyday life, and in doing so, create a better state for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders."

Clare O’Connor

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