Congress decision a welcome move by Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans 21 December 2013
he National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples’ $29.2 Million in funding plus a further $15 Million in promised funding is under reconsideration by the Federal Government. I say good! National Congress has simply failed to, not only deliver but to also represent a wide cross section of views from the Aboriginal community Australia wide. A ridiculous amount of taxpayer’s money has been sunk into this enterprise which has seen poor performance and has received minimal support and membership from Australia’s First Peoples across the board, which has made them financially nonviable as a stand alone organisation. Their dependence on Federal funding seems hypocritical regarding some of their initiatives towards self-empowerment. The idea was good but not everything works all the time, this is partly due, in National Congress’ case, because they have not behaved or seen to be (when looking at the campaigns they support) very inclusive of the wide and differing range of views held by contemporary Aboriginal people and that in itself renders the very essence of the National Congress pointless as a self-declared representative body. It is unfortunate and it sets a poor example to Aboriginal people when National Congress carry on the way they do in a tantrum because their mass amounts of funding is being cut.
Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans. Image: Sky Allen
When the so called national representative body for Aboriginal people kick up a stink over a lack of government handouts it reinforces the negative view that all Aboriginal people want is freebies from the tax-payer. We barely heard boo from them since their inauguration regarding cuts to other Aboriginal lead or supported organisations, we have barely heard boo from Congress regarding the third world living conditions of Aboriginal people in some parts of the country as well. I for one have never heard of them advocating for anything other than themselves and the Recognise [for Constitutional recognition] campaign; I haven’t seen them support grass-roots Aboriginal
people, initiatives or campaigns outside of Sydney if at all. We hear a right ruckus from them now their own comfort is being threatened. I welcome the decision to reconsider the National Congress’ funding. Hopefully during the review period National Congress can cease blaming the government and start looking at themselves and how they might change to be the truly independent and inclusive organisation they claim they already are. Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans is a Traditional Owner and Aboriginal Affairs advocate from Far North Queensland, Mapoon region