1.1 RETHINKING THE SOLUTION TO INDIGENOUS DISADVANTAGE
Founded in 2001 as Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships,
Jawun has evolved overmore than a decade of partnerships
with Indigenous communities, starting in Cape York and
expanding now to eight regions across Australia. This
evolution has seen changes in how Jawun operates, but
its work remains dedicated to supporting Indigenous
organisations to progress their agendas for change.
As Jawun Patron Noel Pearson explains:
In an effort to move away from a passive
welfare economy and to effect real change in our
communities, we didn’t want money… we wanted to
take responsibility… we wanted skills and expertise
and we wanted to have the opportunity to develop
our skills and enhance our capabilities in order to
take ownership of our future. We were in search of
people with skills and expertise that could assist us
in pursuing our reformagenda through skills transfer
and capability enhancement. It is from this notion
that Jawun was born.
Indigenous Australians have the right to vote and access
to universal healthcare, education and welfare. Yet
average life expectancy for Indigenous Australians is
equivalent to developing countries like Kosovo
in some Indigenous communities, unemployment is as
high as 80 per cent. As Noel Pearson has stressed, the
solution is not simply providing Indigenous people
with more freedom or more choices.
Noel credits his thinking in this area to Amartya Sen,
Harvard Professor and Nobel PrizeWinner in Economics.
Sen believes, “Freedom and human rights are not just
about having choices, but having the capability to
choose a life you have reason to value”.
To achieve progress, a different approach was
required, a partnershipmodel with emphasis on working
Indigenous people, rather than simply providing
services to them. This was especially critical given
that the majority of previous reform efforts had been
unsuccessful in achieving sustained improvement and
measurable change for Indigenous communities.
“The question we face as a nation is one in
which we’ve got to define a place for the
Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders within
the life of the nation. Otherwise how can it be
said that we have a rightful place in this, our
own country? An architecture of power is needed
so that communities can come to decide their
own futures, have a strong say in what happens
in our community and the directions we face.”
, Chairman, Cape York Partnership
and Jawun Patron
“Doing the same thing we’ve done for the last
50 years isn’t going to work, and the elephant in
the room is a dependence on passive welfare.”
, Executive Chair, Wunan
Steve Hind (former BCG), Ross Love (Partner and Managing Director, BCG and Jawun Board Member), Shane Phillips (CEO, Tribal Warrior Association)
and Sean Gordon (CEO, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council).
Photo: Daniel Linnet, Linnet Foto