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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Premier and Indigenous Mayors sign historic partnership agreement in Yarrabah.

    Premier and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    Premier and Indigenous Mayors sign historic partnership agreement in Yarrabah.

    Premier Peter Beattie and 15 Indigenous Mayors representing Queensland’s Aboriginal and mainland Torres Strait Islander communities today signed an historic partnership agreement.

    Gathered in the Yarrabah community, south of Cairns, the Mayors and Premier committed to working together to make a practical difference to the lives of people in the State’s Indigenous communities.

    "This partnership commits the State Government and each of the communities to take responsibility for some major changes," Mr Beattie said.

    "The Indigenous Partnership Agreement is about real change, with the government and the communities working together to provide better services in return for changed behaviour and greater responsibility by community members.

    "In contrast with the approach being taken elsewhere, it is my government’s strong view that building partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through these arrangements at the local, regional and state levels is a key factor in creating positive and sustainable change".

    "The State Government will work to provide jobs and improve vital services including better education, policing, housing and infrastructure and in return communities will be asked to ensure tenants look after their own dwellings, and make sure children attend school.

    "Community members will also be expected to promote healthy eating, supported by local stores and will take action against people indulging in illegal or anti-social activities," Mr Beattie said.

    "The Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Warren Pitt, has also agreed to review the alcohol supply and demand reduction policies that govern the communities’ Alcohol Management Plans.

    "Today I am pleased to announce the first practical step in the implementation of the new agreement – land tenure reform for these communities.

    "The Mayors have made it clear to me that land tenure must be reformed before we can fix the chronic lack of housing and other community infrastructure.

    "These changes will also allow business and industry to develop and grow in Indigenous communities," Mr Beattie said.

    Legislative amendments to be introduced into Parliament later this year will set in place new arrangements for land ownership, management and tenure, which will enable:

    • leasing options of up to 99 years for housing bodies;
    • residential leases of up to 99 years;
    • leasing options of up to 99 years for significant commercial developments; and
    • renewable 30 year commercial leases.

    These amendments do not diminish Indigenous control over traditional lands, but will allow community members to take real and active ownership of their economic future and the welfare of their communities.

    "I am also pleased to announce another step in building a ‘real world’ economic future for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures - a new $10.73M arts program will support Indigenous arts and culture but also help artists get an economic return for their work," Mr Beattie said.

    The Indigenous Arts Program will support Queensland’s Indigenous communities to take their art to the world through:

    • developing a network of 15 Indigenous Arts Centres across North Queensland;
    • establishing an Indigenous arts hub at Weipa;
    • a new Cairns Print Centre – to open in 2008 to provide a resource for Indigenous artists to produce high quality prints of their work; and
    • an Indigenous Arts Marketplace in Cairns to showcase and celebrate Indigenous art and improve economic outcomes for communities.

    "Economic independence is the key to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders lifting themselves from the cycle of dependence and despair.

    "Many talented and highly skilled artists are living and working in North Queensland communities and this program is designed to help them develop their skills further and market their art around the world.

    "These are first steps in a long process which will require strong commitment on all sides.

    "Over coming weeks we will work together on practical solutions and changes to the way we deliver services and assistance and identify new ways of having community members respond in kind.

    "I want to thank the Mayors and elders of the communities who have today signed this historic agreement and I look forward to working with them to make this partnership agreement part of a practical set of solutions to the problems besetting many of our Indigenous communities," the Premier said.

    The Indigenous Partnerships Agreement is for three years (2007 – 2010) and will be implemented on the ground through Local Indigenous Partnerships Agreements to deal with local priorities as informed by local data, and be overseen through twice yearly roundtables convened by the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

    Over coming weeks Minister Pitt will work with the four indigenous councils yet to sign the agreement. It is expected that at least three of the four councils will sign shortly.

    The Indigenous Partnership Agreement builds on a multi-million dollar package of initiatives across numerous portfolios, including:

    • a significant boost in funding for Indigenous housing including $86.3 million for maintenance and new and upgraded dwellings in 34 communities and $35.9 million for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Housing Rental program;
    • 29 extra police officers for Indigenous communities;
    • An extra $5 million capital and $12.4 million recurrent to establish residential care facilities for children at risk in Weipa, Napranum, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Doomadgee and Aurukun; and
    • $9 million to enhance vocational training and skills development for Indigenous adults in regional and remote communities.

    Monday July 23, 2007

    For more information: Premier’s Office – 3224 4500