NACCHO pays tribute to outgoing Senator Rachel Siewert

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills congratulates and thanks Senator Rachel Siewart for her 16 years of service advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Our sector is saddened to hear of your retirement as a Senator representing WA in the Australian Parliament. The Australian Senate is a much poorer place with your departure.

We congratulate you on your influential 16 years of service and your many achievements along the way.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lost a strong advocate in Parliament, we look forward to working with your successor. We congratulate the Greens on nominating Dorinda Cox, a Yamatji Noongar woman, to take up the vacant seat left by you in the Senate from next month.

You have been a strong voice for our people and we thank you for it. In particular, you have had a deep understanding of the issues affecting our lives, families and communities. Your support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, of reparations for the victims of the Stolen Generation and your indefatigable opposition to discriminatory and demeaning welfare measures such as the ‘robodebt’ debacle, the unproven cashless welfare card and your relentless calls for the raising of income support payments have all been appreciated by many of our 143 members, their 7,000 staff across Australia and the 370,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and families that they serve.

NACCHO also benefitted from your critical support as a cross-bench senator over the years. For example, the rejection of amendments to the CATSI Act was appreciated by the 80+ NACCHO members who fall under this legislation. As you are aware, this is a fight that continues today with the recent tabling of the Amendments Bill after a deeply flawed consultation process. Likewise, we appreciated your ongoing interest in the CDEP scheme and its iterations over the years.

We also recognise the steady pressure that you and your colleagues have applied in the area of climate change action. Support for the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in land management – be it through traditional fire control, Aboriginal rangers or land-care programs – is another element of your work over the years that is appreciated by many communities in our sector.

We also thank you for your contributions in the various Senate committees. In particular, you have contributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests in the Senate Select Committees of Regional and Remote Indigenous Communities and Effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia Agenda; the Joint Statutory Committee on Native Title and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account; the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia; and the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

It is a remarkable contribution. There are few parliamentarians who can demonstrate such a genuine and ongoing interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. As such, you deserve our warmest congratulations.

NACCHO wishes you well in your next endeavours and thanks you for everything you have done during your 16 years as a Senator.


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