Federal Election: Indigenous Electoral Information Program
Members of the land council network would be aware of the mounting speculation that a Federal Election is about to be called by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
NSWALC's soundings in Canberra suggest the election will be called this weekend or next.
Given this, it seems timely to remind members that this will be the first Federal Election to be held since the Howard Government's demise in which Aboriginal voters across Australia will be able to use the services of an Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.
The program is operated by the Australian Electoral Commission.
Members may recall NSWALC lobbied for the re-introduction of the service in 2008. It had been abolished by the Howard Government.
The highly acclaimed program, which was operated at a cost of little more than two million dollars a year, and which sought to increase the electoral enrolment and participation of Aboriginal people in the electoral process, had been abolished against expert advice from the AEC and others.
NSWALC publicly welcomed the re-introduction of the program in the 2009/10 Federal Budget.
The then Special Minister for State, Senator John Faulkner, announced the provision of $13 million over the next four years to establish the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program to improve the electoral knowledge of our people and to encourage them to participate in the electoral process.
He announced the design and development of the program was expected to be completed by February this year, Indigenous staff would be recruited by March this year and the program implemented by this month.
NSWALC has been informed the service has been actively up and running in our state for the past few months.
Aboriginal Community Education and Information Officers are now based in the electoral divisions of McArthur, Page, Parkes and Lindsay with a program coordinator based in Sydney.
We would encourage all land council members to use the service should they have any voting eligibility questions.
Contact numbers are available from all Australian Electoral Commission offices in NSW.
This is a small but worthy program which should never have been abolished.
NSWALC plans to seek a guarantee from both major parties during the Federal Election campaign that the program will be retained whichever party forms the next Federal Government.