A group of Indigenous community leaders from far-western New South Wales has launched a national political party, with an eye to next year’s federal election.
- A newly launched political party hopes to tackle systemic issues with Indigenous housing, water management, fracking and education
- The party says Indigenous Australians are under-represented by the major political organisations
- The Indigenous Party of Australia has 2,000 members and is looking to expand into all states and territories
The Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia has been officially approved by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
Convenor Owen Whyman, a Barkandji-Malyangapa elder living in Wilcannia, said the party had been in the works for some time and was in response to First Nations people’s concerns they were being overlooked by Canberra.
He said the motivation to seed the party came after feeling under-represented in the political sphere and from becoming disenfranchised with the major parties.
“To get a call from the AEC, some could say it’s a Christmas present for us because [potentially] we now have a voice in parliament for Indigenous people’s right across Australia,” Mr Whyman said.
A voice for the environment
Mr Whyman said the management of the Darling [Barka] River along with the destruction of culturally significant sites, had forced the group into action.
“We’ve got a saying, ‘We don’t own the land, the land owns us’,” Mr Whyman said.
“It’s the same across Australia. We want to stop all the fracking and mining going on that’s killing the outback way of life.
Mr Whyman’s daughter Amelia is a voice for the next generation. The 13-year-old is excited by the potential for change if the party succeeds.
Her hope is that the party is embraced by a more mainstream audience of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“It’s very exciting for me. I think it’s a really great idea and a great chance for us to finally be in parliament.
Putting the ‘call out’
So far, the majority of the party’s 2,000-plus members are based in the western and the Upper Hunter regions of New South Wales.
But as borders reopen across the country, Mr Whyman and his executive team are looking to reach a broader audience interstate.
“We can come to them and sit down with them, whether in the bush or the office.
“To sit down and listen to them. I can only talk on behalf of my concerns in my area. I’m not going to say that I know everyone else’s concerns in other states or territories.
“We want to go to those people and sit down with them to see what their main concerns and problems.
The party is hopeful it will give a voice to those they say have not been heard before and to those who have stayed quiet.