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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