Established in 2013, Empowered Communities represents Indigenous leaders from eight regions around Australia who have joined forces to drive a common reform agenda for Indigenous empowerment.
In 2015 this group of leaders submitted to government a Design Report which articulates the Empowered Communities vision and proposes a range of national policy reforms aimed at achieving the same level of wellbeing, life opportunities and choices for Indigenous people as for non-Indigenous Australians. In 2016 regions were funded to develop Backbone teams and work with communities to develop First Priorities that would precede regional Development Agendas. In 2017, EC leadership delivered Regional Reports. These reports provide a picture of progress to date and will serve as a baseline to consider future change.
‘Backbone’ organisations convene leadership groups and play a secretariat function in coordinating regional reforms. They are now operational in seven regions:
- Cape York: Empowered Communities Cape York
- Central Coast: Barang Regional Alliance
- East Kimberley: Binarri-Binyja Yarrawoo Aboriginal Corporation (BBYAC)
- West Kimberley: Aarnja
- NPY Lands: NPY Women’s Council
- Inner Sydney: Inner Sydney Empowered Communities (ISEC)
- Goulburn Murray: Kaiela Institute, with the Community Cabinet Algabonyah
Another region, Lower River Murray: Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority, has been approved as an additional Empowered Communities region and is awaiting funding approval.
Across the regions, around 50 ‘opt-in organisations’ are committed to designing and implementing reform at the local level.
Empowered Communities emerged from an Indigenous leaders’ conference on the Central Coast in 2013. At that conference, Jawun Patron Noel Pearson invited leaders from the regions in the Jawun network to discuss their shared priorities and ideas. As a result, the leaders cemented their resolve to work together on two levels: as an interface with government and to share best practice examples from their regions. Since the 2013 conference, Jawun corporate and government secondees, as well as senior business leaders from Jawun’s corporate partners, have provided strategic business advice and expertise to support Empowered Communities.
The strength of Empowered Communities is the collaboration; it has its own legacy of empowerment that will live on way beyond any formal process.
-Fiona Jose, CEO, Cape York Institute
To find out more about Empowered Communities, visit: empoweredcommunities.org.au