Australians want to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, regardless of what the voice referendum outcome might infer.
The nation voted down a proposal to enshrine an Indigenous advisory body into the constitution with a resounding ‘no’ despite strong support in areas with significant First Nations populations like the Kimberley, Tiwi Islands and remote parts of the country.
Some Indigenous community groups have called for a period of mourning in response, and while Prime Minister Albanese recognised their disappointment he said Australia’s choice must be respected.
“We respect the outcomes in our democracy and I have done that,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Perth on Friday.
“While Australians did not vote in favour of the referendum, Australians do want to see the gap closed.
“They want to see disadvantage dealt with in Indigenous communities and we’ll continue to work in this area and in health, life expectancy, in community services, in all of these areas with the programs we have.”
The prime minister emphasised the importance of First Nations perspectives in further government measures.
“We do have this gap and we’ve been unable to bridge it. Governments of all persuasions have failed in doing that,” he said.
“The best programs are ones which involve Indigenous Australians.
“We can’t do things in Canberra for a place like the Kimberley in the Pilbara and think bureaucrats in Canberra know better than the people on the ground.”
The federal government has allocated more than $200 million as part of its skills and apprenticeships package to help upskill Indigenous Australians.
The opposition has called on the government to establish a royal commission into sexual abuse in Indigenous communities.
The prime minister said addressing abuse was important but the government would not initiate a royal commission.
The referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament was lost when 61 per cent voted no, compared to 39 per cent who voted yes.