Indigenous Affairs

"I will continue to do all I can to ensure that being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander means to be successful, to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous person in this great country."

Malcolm Turnbull
Embedded thumbnail for Indigenous Affairs

Australians are part of the oldest continuous culture on earth.

Researchers revealed new evidence that Indigenous Australians have been here for 65,000 years. These findings show that Indigenous people were living at the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Mirarr Country, at Kakadu east of Darwin, 18,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The findings place Australia on centre stage in the story of human origin, including mankind’s first long-distance maritime voyage - from Southeast Asia to the Australian continent. They reveal our First Peoples as artistically advanced, and at the cutting edge of human technology.

Importantly, they confirm what Aboriginal people have always told us and that we have known: that Indigenous peoples' connections to the land and sea are deep, abiding, and ancient, yet also modern. This news is a point of great pride for our nation. We rejoice in it, as we celebrate Indigenous cultures and heritage as something we are all a part of - uniquely Australian.

Improving the lives of our First Australians is a priority of all Governments. Each Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander community is unique.

In 2016 Malcolm Turnbull was the first Prime Minister to speak in an Aboriginal language in Parliament (2016 Closing the Gap), and has continued to show respect to First Australians by learning local language and celebrating our unique Indigenous heritage.

Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunawal dhawra.

Wanggarra lijinyin mariny bulan bugarabang.

The Prime Minister and the Government are supported by the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, as well as working with State and Territory Governments.

Closing the Gap

The Government is committed to Closing the Gap, and the 2017 Closing the Gap report revealed important progress in key areas:

  • Significant improvements in health; a significant decline in mortality rates, greater access to antenatal care, reduced rates of smoking, reduction in mortality from chronic diseases and declining infant mortality rates
  • Improvements in reading and numeracy for Indigenous children
  • Significant increase in Indigenous female employment over the longer term
  • Significant improvements in the proportion of Indigenous 20-24 year olds achieving Year 12 or equivalent
  • At high levels of education there is virtually no employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Engagement with Indigenous Australians:

The Prime Minister is committed to effective engagement by developing respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. However, there can be no relationship without partnership. And, there can be no partnership without participation.

As part of doing things ‘with’, not ‘to’ Indigenous peoples, the Government has refreshed the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, committed to the Empowered Communities model, and is progressively increasing funding to more Indigenous organisations under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy than ever before.

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy is the way in which the Government funds and delivers a range of programmes targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The three key priorities under the Strategy are getting children to school, adults into work, and building safe communities. The positive impact that education has on the future success of individuals, families and communities is clear - children who go to school have better life outcomes. Employment, economic development and social participation improves the lives of families and communities. The right conditions and incentives need to be in place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate in the economy and broader society. Growing up in a healthy and safe home and community is essential for families to thrive and reach their full potential. In particular, the violence that too many women and children face must be addressed.

Under the Turnbull Government

$4 Billion
Indigenous Advancement Strategy
Year 12 Attainment
On track to meet target
Contracts to Indigenous businesses

Responsible Ministers

Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion
Minister for Indigenous Affairs