LAUNCH OF THE FINANCIAL SERVICES COUNCIL NATIVE TITLE STANDARD
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
Thank you to Aunty Matilda House for that very fitting welcome to country, and thanks to Sally Loane and the Financial Services Council for inviting me to share in today’s launch. I acknowledge the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, and also my counterpart and occasional sparring partner, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. All political sparring gets put aside when we come together to mark worthwhile initiatives like the one the Financial Services Council is launching today, and particularly when we do so during National Reconciliation Week.
A little while ago I was reading some research done by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, on the experience of Indigenous communities managing their native title rights once these have been recognised in Australian law.
The study noted that:
“For native title holders, recognition of traditional rights in country is often hard won, euphoric and highly symbolic. It creates the expectation of positive outcomes such as greater involvement in decision-making and an improvement in social and emotional wellbeing. The reality is that Native Title holders face a miasma of complex legal and political issues, competing demands, a lack of resources, and a great deal of uncertainty…as to the meaning of the rights and interests of native title holders.”
I was reminded of that quote when I first heard about the Native Title Standard we’re here to launch today. Because nowhere are those ‘complex legal and political issues, competing demands and uncertainty’ more evident than when it comes to managing the financial resources which flow to Native Title holders and must be managed on behalf of their communities.
With often large amounts of money flowing into community trusts, managing this well is both a challenge and an opportunity for Indigenous communities.
In reading through the Standard, I was impressed by the range of practical and cultural considerations the FSC working group has taken into account to ensure that communities not only benefit financially, but also build capacity for the future. Requiring Trustees to provide plain English disclosure and build up their own cultural knowledge are both valuable initiatives, but it strikes me that what is most important about this standard is the commitment to in-community capacity building and inclusive decision-making.
Supporting communities to grow their human capital at the same time as building up their financial capital is absolutely critical for a brighter economic future.
One of the things I’ve noticed in my time here in Parliament is that we get the best outcomes when there is broad consultation with the communities and individuals that will be affected by a policy, and when a wide range of views are heard. I want to congratulate the FSC for the inclusive, consultative process that underpinned the development of the Native Title Standard, and I think the benefits of that approach are evident from its comprehensiveness.
I understand that we have representatives from all of the Indigenous groups who took part in developing the Standard with us today, including the First Nations Foundation, Indigenous Business Australia, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute and Nyama Buru Yawuru – congratulations on the important role you’ve played in ensuring Indigenous communities across Australia get a better deal from their financial managers.
I know that Perpetual is one of the largest providers of Native Title Trustee services, and I noticed that the tagline for this service is ‘sustainable investment for communities’. That’s absolutely what we should all be working towards to ensure Indigenous communities truly benefit from recognition of their Native Title rights.
Congratulations to the Financial Services Council for working to take that one step further with this new Standard.
MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856