Following the 2016 report on the ‘Closing the Gap’ program, it is good to see a well researched article in The Age. Ben Stephens and Matthew Tyle, graduate students at Harvard University, say:
“insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Quoting Einstein, the writers’] sincere hope is that rather than continuing the merry-go-round of repeated mistakes, the Turnbull government [will embrace] real solutions…
Australia will move forward when it cedes power to Indigenous people and demands accountability”.
Centralised government here has so far failed to allow indigenous Australians to take responsibility for their lives. Despite so many recommendations to follow grassroots communities’ advice, Australia’s gap is more than double what exists in the US with respect to finishing high school, employment measures and incarceration.
Broadly speaking there are two common characteristics:
1. Supported by treaties and legislation, federal and state governments provide resources and capacity, in devolving decision-making power to indigenous peoples.
2. Governments have shown preparedness to work with indigenous institutions that have been designed to fit specific cultural and contextual needs…unique systems that blend contemporary checks and balances with cultural practices.
They found success didn’t occur overnight, but with patience and recognition that people/institutions can make mistakes and learn from this, these governments are committed to indigenous self-determination and are moving towards it.
Australia is doing the opposite! Politicians and bureaucrats hold power rather than dispersing it among indigenous leaders and communities who can drive actually drive change.
Many people seeking sustainable community development work with the following
Asset-Based Community Development beliefs in mind:
1. Everyone has gifts: each person in a community has something to contribute
2. Relationships build a community: people must be connected in order for sustainable community development to take place
3. Citizens at the center: citizens should be viewed as actors—not recipients—in development
4. Leaders involve others: community development is strongest when it involves a broad base of community action
5. People care: challenge notions of ‘apathy’ by listening to people’s interests
7. Listen: decisions should come from conversations where people are heard
8. Ask: asking for ideas is more sustainable than giving solutions
This report was prepared by Indigenous leaders from eight regions across Australia and looks at
“creating a system where Indigenous people are enabled to lead their own cultural, political and economic development…
One critical component is an independent umpire – the Indigenous Policy Productivity Council (IPPC) – that would moderate negotiations between government and Indigenous communities. The IPPC is needed to inject mutual accountability to the system and to level the playing field between government and Indigenous parties…
The Empowered Communities process has enjoyed strong bipartisan endorsement and was widely supported when it was released. But progress has stalled because the Turnbull government is yet to provide a meaningful response to the recommendations despite receiving them almost 12 months ago.
Progress occurs when good policy meets good politics.”
Will our popular Prime Minister listen AND act?