Collaboration, partnerships and respect are key to Aboriginal success.
Reconciliation Australia has welcomed the bi-partisan support being shown for community led, regionally based approaches to improving economic and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
The Empowered Communities Initiative presents another opportunity to improve public administration and the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policies and programs based on what works: cooperation, community involvement, government support, leadership and good governance.
A wide body of evidence ranging from the Productivity Commission, COAG trials, and our own work at Reconciliation Australia highlights that the absence of collaboration built on genuine partnerships, respectful relationships and cultural knowledge lies at the heart of decades of policy failure.
There is much detail still to be worked out, but it is clear that the initiative’s focus on community led innovation, genuine partnership, sharing information, strong governance and improving the accountability of all parties to reform – including government – through measurement and reporting are aligned with the work of Reconciliation Australia.
While the initiative represents an exciting way forward for the eight founding communities and possibly others down the track, its development must not be seen to exclude or discount approaches adopted by other communities and leaders applying the same or similar principles. Those approaches will also require ongoing financial support and backing from both governments and the corporate sector.
Our expertise and relationships built through our Reconciliation Action Plan program and through our Indigenous governance work may be useful in complementing the objectives of this initiative and we look forward to working collaboratively with community leaders and Jawun in pursuit of genuine reconciliation.
Dr Tom Calma AO and Ms Melinda Cilento – Co-Chairs of Reconciliation Australia