New co-chair rejects internal criticism of National Congress model

BY AMY MCQUIREMAY 10, 2011

 Originally published in Tracker Magazine.  

Co-chair elect of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Jody Broun.

NATIONAL, May 4, 2011: The co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has rejected suggestions her fellow co-chair’s outspoken criticism of the model is a bad start for the organisation.

The vote of 600 of the claimed 2,000 members of the Congress last month resulted in the election of the former Director-General of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in NSW, Jody Broun and Aboriginal activist, Les Malezer to head the Federal Government funded body.

The body is led by two co-chairs, one male and one female, to ensure a gender balance.

In his first media interviews following the election Mr Malezer questioned the need for two co-chairs.

“The gender balance can be pursued without creating co-chairs… how would we go if we had two prime ministers?” he asked.

Ms Broun who was overseas on a pre-planned holiday when the decision was announced has told Tracker she supports the model as it stands.

“My position is we have been elected under the current model,” she said.

“There is a holding on us to make that work. I am committed to the gender balance that the congress has mandated.

“I think that’s really important, because one of the flaws of ATSIC was it wasn’t always a gender balance, and women’s issues didn’t necessarily get dealt with as well as they should have.

“… I don’t think it is necessarily a bad start. The congress structure is in its infancy and it might evolve over time, driven by members, and driven by delegate meetings.

She believes she will work well with Mr Malezer.

“There’s a hell of a lot of work to do in the first couple of years and I think that’s going to keep us both working. I don’t think we’ll be bored that’s for sure, “ she said

Ms Broun also rejected criticism the body was not representative.

“The congress is only just getting started,” she said. “It needs to prove its worth and value.

“We need to work around the membership base and build that up. That’s one of my priorities for this term.”

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