Rebuilding the Social Fabric: The Agenda of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Australia, Human Rights

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In a powerful speech delivered at the Inaugural CASWA AGM and Statewide Gathering, Katie Kiss, the newly appointed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, outlined her agenda for the next five years. With a focus on rebuilding the social fabric and creating the conditions necessary for positive change, Kiss emphasized the importance of self-determination and self-governance.

As the sixth Commissioner to be appointed, Kiss acknowledged the work of her predecessors in fighting for cultural and system reform. She highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including high rates of incarceration, violence against women, and mental health issues.

During her term, Kiss plans to engage with the government and key stakeholders to address these issues and rebuild the social fabric of communities. She is particularly committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and advancing the goals of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty, Truth.

Kiss also expressed the need to move beyond inquiries and reports and focus on the implementation of recommendations from previous investigations, such as the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Bringing them Home Report. Strengthening the Community Controlled Sector, as outlined in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, is another priority for Kiss, ensuring that culturally safe and relevant programs and services are delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

As Kiss begins her term, she calls for government commitment to genuine partnership and a strengths-based approach to bring about real change. Through listening to the voices of the community and collaborating with key stakeholders, she aims to create a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can exercise their rights and thrive in strong, self-determined communities.

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