| June 21, 2018
Indigenous Affairs Policy Question
In my electorate of Murray the largest population centre is the city of Shepparton. It has an urban population of around 50,000 people when you take into account its twin city of Mooroopna. Shepparton has Victoria's second-largest Aboriginal population after Melbourne, and the concentration of Indigenous Australians is the second-largest of any Victorian city and four times the national average. The Greater Shepparton area holds significant Aboriginal cultural heritage and is among the most culturally diverse communities in regional Victoria. Historically, there were eight tribes that now fall under the Yorta Yorta banner. In the state parliament there are registered Aboriginal parties—at the moment that status is held by the Yorta Yorta nations. There has been some serious consternation about that in relation to the role of the Bangerang, and whether the Bangerang is a nation within itself or simply a clan of the Yorta Yorta nation. I have continually met with Indigenous leaders of both the Bangerang and the Yorta Yorta.
There have been many great Indigenous leaders whose origins lie within Murray, possibly none greater than Sir Douglas Nicholls. Sir Doug Nicholls had a historic rise throughout his life. He was an outstanding athlete, he was a VFL footballer for Fitzroy, he served in the military and he became a pastor. A genuine leader of his people, along with his uncle William Cooper, he led many of the Aboriginal rights protests and was able to play a significant role in Indigenous affairs.
Sir Douglas Nicholls was named Victorian Father of the Year in 1962. He was the second Aboriginal justice of the peace. He was crowned King of Moomba in 1973. And in 1976 Sir Douglas Nicholls was appointed Governor of South Australia, and he played a significant role there until he passed away in Mooroopna in 1988. Yesterday the Australian Electoral Commission announced the Victorian redistribution of federal divisions, and the seat of Murray will in future be known as Nicholls. So, if I am privileged enough to be here after the next election, I will be known as the member for Nicholls.
To paint the picture around Shepparton, it's worth realising how many significant leaders we have at the moment. I recently met with Clint and Miranda Edwards from the Bangerang 'keeping place'. They have some serious challenges to be able to maintain their cultural centre on the same site. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has offered to help them work out whether it is best to leave the Bangerang Cultural Centre where it is or to start planning for a future where the amazing diorama there is moved to a more prominent site.
We also have outstanding leadership in Paul Briggs, who leads the Rumbalara Football Netball Club. Associated with that is the Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative, which offers a whole range of health and social benefits. Rumbalara plays a really important role within the dynamic of Shepparton and Mooroopna because it offers a place where the Indigenous people are the mainstream, the majority. It takes away this concept that Indigenous people in mainstream Australia always find themselves as the minority. When they go to a football club that is predominantly Indigenous, then they are certainly in the majority. That is something that Rumbalara has achieved. It has made some amazing social gains through people having their own football netball club. Also associated with the work that Paul Briggs is doing is the Kaiela Institute, which has become a great advocate for a whole raft of Indigenous people and their areas. It supports a collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders to design and implement the future for people throughout the Goulburn-Murray region.
Can the minister provide an update on the Closing the Gap targets throughout the seat of Murray?