A New Way of

Working Together

Governments and Indigenous Australians making decisions together

“We have to hope, not despair – we have the solutions.” – June Oscar AO, West Kimberley Aboriginal leader

While governments have a critical role in setting policies and implementing programs, true gains are made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to work with governments to set the agendas that impact on their wellbeing. This aligns with the Prime Minister’s commitment to ‘work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.

When governments listen, collaboration puts Indigenous Australians at the centre of decision-making, builds capacity of individuals, organisations and communities, and enables people to make decisions to support their wellbeing. Given the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and circumstances, a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not achieve desired outcomes.

We are shifting to a new way of engaging—we are working with Indigenous leaders and communities to support Indigenous ownership and enable true partnerships with government. We are using different approaches in different regions across the country.

One example of this new approach is the Indigenous-designed and led Empowered Communities initiative – it brings together Indigenous communities and governments to set priorities, improve services and apply funding effectively at a regional level. At its core, Empowered Communities is about governments backing Indigenous leaders to work with their communities to introduce positive change. It aims to empower Indigenous people to build positive futures for themselves and their families and build trust between communities and governments.

Empowered Communities puts Indigenous culture and participation front and centre in the decisions of government. It is moving us from an application driven, transactional approach to one of partnership, transparency and shared accountability.

We are sharing government data and funding backbone organisations to help Indigenous leaders in Empowered Communities regions drive implementation across their communities. We are moving to jointly making decisions about discretionary investment, and a ‘learn and adapt as you go’ approach ensures implementation is informed by what works and what does not. Next steps include progressing long term regional development plans and addressing first priorities to secure early wins and strengthen collaboration between governments and communities.

We thank the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples for their leadership in bringing together the Redfern Statement alliance. The government will work with a diversity of representatives to ensure a broad range of views are heard on key issue such as health, justice, education and employment.

Local solutions

Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly

Members of the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly in front of an Indigenous mural

"The biggest issue for the Assembly has been to maintain its relevance by keeping its governance strong. If the Assembly was not strong, it would not be relevant to its communities or to government."– Alistair Ferguson, Acting Chairperson Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly

Find out more on the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly local solution

More local solutions are available on the resources page