Pama Futures Submission March 2018

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Empowerment and development agenda to close the gap on Indigenous disparity in Cape York Peninsula Submission to the Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships March 2018

Contents Introduction 6 The time has come


This is our best chance


The gap can close through a combination of structural reform and Indigenous agency


We build capabilities and the gap will close


Policy Context


Genesis of Pama Futures


The Gap is not closing


A new productivity approach is needed


Development is the goal


The way to get there is Empowerment


The method for Empowerment


Pama Futures comes at a critical juncture


Over 800 Cape York people involved in Pama Futures


Pama Futures


The three streams


Strong foundations


1. Land Rights reforms


2. Empowerment reforms


3. Economic Development reforms


Structural Reforms


The need for legislation


Partnership Tables and Agreements


Pooled Funds


Productivity Dividend


Development Zones and Projects of Indigenous Development Significance


Procedural ILUA to set out commitment to Pama Futures


Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Specific Initiatives


Open for Business


Dreaming Track


Tribal Wealth Funds


Opportunity Account


Community Development Programme reforms




Evolution of the Family Responsibilities Commission


Child protection


Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation




Monitoring and Evaluation




Introduction The time has come The time has now come for our Cape York reform agenda to move beyond pilots and trials and for Pama Futures to become the new way forward for the social, economic and cultural development of the First Nations of Cape York Peninsula. If we take the year 2000 as the time when we first germinated our social and economic reform agenda with the establishment of Cape York Partnerships with the Queensland Government, then we are veterans of 18 years of regional reform activity, including various permutations of partnership with the two levels of government. In this time we developed mature partnerships1 with the private and philanthropic sectors that culminated in the formation of what is now called Jawun Corporate Partnerships. Jawun now works with ten regions across the country based on the model we developed in Cape York. An array of programs followed a great deal of innovative policy and design work that we have implemented in Cape York. Some of these innovations have influenced developments nationwide. For example Cape York pioneered financial literacy with the invention of Family Income Management (now called MPower) as the first output from our reform agenda. In the past ten years our reform work was captured in the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, which has been evaluated and the failures and successes of the trial are clear to us. Our organisational capability has grown exponentially since we began this agenda and the necessity for us to move from trial phase to a comprehensive implementation phase has been pressing upon us for some years now. There has been an obvious need for us to move from trials and pilots to an unequivocal adoption of the reform agenda indicated by the outcomes of these trials. As well as organisational capabilities there has been a flourishing of Indigenous leadership at the community and regional levels. Our young people have become educated and they have come to occupy positions of leadership in our organisations and communities. We are now equipped to move to a full reform agenda across all of our communities involving all of our people. Now is the time. The time has come for us to bring the whole agenda together and move forward in partnership with our people and with governments.

This is our best chance Pama Futures represents the best chance we have to close the gap on Indigenous disparity in our region. It represents the distillation of everything we have argued for almost two decades, all of the lessons we Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


have learnt, all of the policy arguments we have won and lost, all of the initiatives that have succeeded and failed, and all the learnings we have accumulated in this period. We now know what needs to be done about closing the gap on our people’s disadvantage. All over Australia there is a level of anxiety if not despair about the failure of our country to solve the Indigenous predicament as evidenced by the miniscule progress on Closing the Gap over the past decade. This year’s report by the Prime Minister to the parliament on the disappointing progress in reaching the targets that were set ten years ago not only tells the national story of failure but it tells the story of our regional failure to close the gap.2 We in Cape York have constantly argued a new paradigm of Indigenous affairs is needed to really come to terms with the predicaments our people face and the reforms that are needed. Some of our thinking is challenging to Indigenous affairs orthodoxy in other parts of the country however there is also a great deal of resonance with what Indigenous leaders and organisations are saying in other regions, particularly those associated with the Empowered Communities initiative which we are part of. Pama Futures represents our best chance to seize the reform leadership that has grown in Cape York Peninsula over the past 18 years and which commenced with our first act of regional self-determination when we established the Cape York Land Council in 1990, so we need to seize this chance with all the vigour and alacrity we can muster.




Commonwealth of Australia, 2018 Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

WE HAVE HAD MANY SUCCESSES Over the past 18 years we have had many successes. Our land rights campaigns which began in 1990 have been very successful with many millions of hectares of traditional lands returned to traditional owners. As well as land justice, our various initiatives concerning social, economic and cultural development have yielded considerable and exciting success. There is much outside opinion held by the wider Indigenous and non-Indigenous public that is completely unaware of the progress we have made. Much of these external views focuses on our continuing challenges and the cyclical crises that explode in media reports, however, our story of success is real and mostly underreported. We have fanned the flames of aspiration and ambition in parents for their children and this is evidenced in the great successes we are having with our secondary and tertiary leadership programs. We have hundreds of graduates of these programs who are now university graduates and secondary school retentions to year 12 have grown. These young people form the basis of our future leadership. Our adult leadership programs have similarly been greatly successful. Education in our Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy has fundamentally improved teaching and learning for our primary school students. There are many areas associated with our Cape York Welfare Reform trial where we are so excited and pleased with the



progress we have made and this is evidenced in the data we rigorously collect and report on in our regular Family Empowerment Reports.3 We believe there is a considerable gap between the successes we have achieved and wider community understanding of this progress. It is a gap we are conscious needs to be addressed however the point to understand now is that the success we have had underpins our confidence in the agenda going forward.

3. The

Family Empowerment Reports are available at

WE HAVE LEARNED FROM OUR SUCCESSES We have learnt many things about what works. We have learnt that certain incentives produce certain responses. In crafting our Pama Futures agenda we are able to learn from the things that have succeeded during the Cape York Welfare Reform trial and our work extending back to 1990. When we commenced Cape York Partnerships we were conscious that many of our initiatives would require piloting and trial. We did not know whether some of the interventions we proposed would succeed. This was of course to be expected: there is no guarantee that plans and intentions will pan out in practice. Before scaling any program we needed to conduct some implementation trials: we have now done this, we have learnt the lessons and are now in a very good position to implement the lessons we have learnt.

WE HAVE LEARNED FROM OUR FAILURES We have also learnt from our failures. In fact the point is often made in business that the greatest lessons come from failure. Our Cape York Welfare Reform trial did not succeed with home ownership for example. We are still facing a brick wall in relation to our aspiration for families to own their own homes. It is not for want of trying and we applied a great deal of policy advocacy in relation to housing and we garnered support from government at various times, however success did not ensue. We are learning from our failure and we have not abandoned the home ownership agenda. There are other initiatives that have been partly successful and we have learnt lessons about how those initiatives might be redesigned and tackled in a different way. There are very important implementation lessons we have garnered over the past decade. Our intention was to implement trials from which we could learn and this we have done.

WE WILL SCALE THE GOOD THINGS We are now at the point where we have seen more pilots than Qantas, and we have undertaken many trials. We now have a suite of initiatives that should be scaled across Cape York Peninsula. We have learnt many lessons in relation to implementation and scaling success. Indeed the main lesson we have learnt is that implementation is nearly everything. We are good at designing compelling and effective interventions, however we know only too well that it all comes down to implementation in the end: successful program implementation is crucial. We have learnt many lessons and we have become very good at program implementation. Implementation is always at the forefront of our minds and Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


our track record is constantly improving in relation to our capabilities and experience in making the rubber hit the road and sustaining the operational success of initiatives.

WE WILL MAKE MORE MISTAKES AND ADAPT ALONG THE WAY We have learnt from implementation over the past two decades that the capacity to learn and to adapt as we move forward is crucial. Adaptation is absolutely key to successful development. It is one thing to make a plan at the beginning to reach a certain destination, but to get there requires tacking and change of direction according to the prevailing circumstances. Mistakes are part and parcel of the challenge. Some of our plans will simply not work out. Some of our plans will half work out and half fail. That is why we must take a positive attitude towards the mistakes, to anticipate that we will make them and to constantly have an eye to learning from the mistakes and adapting our plans for the future. The destination is very clear but the means by which we get there never are. We have very good ideas and some of our initial plans are indeed cogent and well thought out, however learning is part of the whole journey. So we intend to build into our implementation going forward a continual process of learning from our mistakes and adapting our implementation practice. We have a very firm belief that we will learn more from our mistakes than we will from our successes, and this is fundamental to our reform journey.

WE HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS BUT WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING: A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN It is clear from the process we undertook in the second half of 2017 through the two Summits and the co-design workshops with sub-regions, that a common language about reform has grown amongst our people. We are all talking a very similar language. Certainly there is a great diversity of views that are held by people coming from different perspectives, and this contributes to our agenda and is part of our strength. Our agenda cannot be simple consensus. It is good that we have forthright views from all quarters, and that our people have the freedom to express those views and to contribute in a co-design process to our plans going forward. Whilst there is a healthy level of debate and discussion in relation to our agenda, it is very clear that we all want the same thing: a better future for our children. It is in relation to our reform goal – to Close the Gap on our people’s disparity – that we have complete common ground. This is why we have united together in proposing this reform direction.



THERE IS A NEW SEASON – AND A RISING LEADERSHIP Cape York Partnership board member, Fiona Wirrer-George, from the Mbaiwum/Trotj and Alngith/Liningithi Wikway Nations of western Cape York Peninsula, describes the phase that we are in as Cape York people as “a new season”. This is a season of hope and aspiration and determination. A time of resolution and dedicated commitment to rebuilding our people, to strengthening our culture and to setting our children up for better futures. We have had great success in nurturing our leadership. The Cape York Leaders Program has been probably our most successful venture. It has been singularly supported by our great friends the McCauley family of Kilcoy, Queensland. The McCauley investment has paid off very handsomely indeed. Many of our current generation of new leaders are graduates of the program that the McCauley’s have steadfastly supported over the past decade. It is this new leadership that is heralding the new season. We are so well placed to move into this next phase because of the scores of regional leaders and hundreds of community leaders that are graduates of our Leaders Program over the past decade and a half.

THIS IS OUR BEST CHANCE TO CLOSE THE GAP Many ingredients are in the mix. Many stars are close to alignment. There has never been a more propitious time for us to make a drive forward to close the gap, and to commence the serious journey of moving towards Indigenous parity. This will likely be a three-generation long journey but now is the time to make the start. Nothing we have done in the past has been calculated to achieve the goal we have in mind. Only now do we have a connection between the goal we seek and our determination to make the journey towards it. As we have said we have had many pilots and trials, we have had many alterations of policies that have aimed to address certain aspects of our predicament, but now is the time to pull the whole strategy together and Pama Futures represents our best chance to close the gap on disparity.

The gap can close through a combination of structural reform and Indigenous agency We believe that overcoming disparity and closing the gap can occur through a combination of structural reforms and Indigenous agency. We know a lot about Indigenous agency and much of our thinking over the past two decades has been directed towards stimulating Indigenous agency. By agency we mean Indigenous people taking charge of their lives, through self-determination and through our right to take responsibility. Indigenous agency is about practical day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month action in our families, in our communities and in our Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


First Nations. This is about black fellas taking first responsibility for their own people. Our destiny can only be secured by ourselves. Nobody can save us in our stead. So, this whole notion of Indigenous agency has been at the forefront of everything we have tried to do through our pilots and trials over the past 18 years. We know a lot about it. We have a great deal of conviction about it. We have a common language about it now and there is a common leadership that has arisen through the “new season.” But we have always argued that Indigenous people rising up and taking charge of our problems and seizing our opportunities has got to be accompanied by structural reforms. It is not just a matter of our people taking responsibility. The structures that our people live within and our communities are trapped within have got to be reformed. It’s not just a matter of human agency. There are institutions and laws that need to be reformed. We have always understood this but these reforms have still yet to be made. These reforms require governments to work with us in partnership to change some of these profound structural barriers to change, barriers that keep our people in desperate circumstances of disadvantage and release us to be able to convert our aspirations for a better life into reality. One example of a discrete but important structural reform is the Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) under Queensland legislation. The FRC, linked with amendments to the Commonwealth Social Security Law, enables elders from our community to make decisions in relation to income support payments to community members, depending upon whether they are fulfilling some basic social responsibilities. This is a crucially important linkage and a completely vital reform. This is what we mean by structural change: changes to institutions and laws. Another example of a structural reform is laws enabling leasing of Aboriginal freehold land for 99 years. Again, this can enable home ownership to occur. This is a structural reform requiring legislative change by the Queensland parliament. Without it, people are trapped in a no-win situation. Now, there are a number of structural reforms proposed in Pama Futures which are crucial to enable development to take place. It is through the combination of structural reforms and Indigenous agency that will enable us to inexorably, over the next three generations, close the gap of our people’s disparity (see Figure 1).




We build capabilities and the gap will close The national Closing the Gap strategy does not have a theory about how the gap can close over time. From our point of view in Cape York Peninsula, our theory is that we need to build capabilities in order for the gap to close. It is when we build these capabilities and grow these capabilities that these indicators that have been set under the Closing the Gap strategy will start to show progress. People’s lives become better, life expectancy grows, health gets better, education improves, family life becomes happier, investments are more productive when we build capabilities in our individual community members, in our families and in our First Nations. Pama Futures is based on the premise that we have to build a set of capabilities, all of which are universal to successful human societies across the planet. This is no magic new formula but rather they are lessons to be learned from other societies and nations that have undertaken the development journey. It is the crucial importance of building capabilities, because when you have capable people and capable families, the important parameters of life expectancy, good health and good education will start to show progress.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council




We start with prenatal foundations for lifelong good health, care and management. It all starts in the womb. We focus on prenatal foundations because we want everyone to understand that good health starts at conception. There is comprehensive evidence of the importance of mothers and babies’ health, not just for early development but for lifelong health. In societies across the world including traditional Australia, prenatal health was foundational, a natural part of human life. Following the colonial invasion of Europeans in Australia this natural positive prenatal health of our traditional society was severely disrupted. Our people now languish in unnatural circumstances. These circumstances have given rise to high incidences of impaired childhood development and compromised growth. That is why our whole focus on health and wellbeing for our people starts in the womb. Introduction



We provide effective education from early childhood onwards to maximise our children’s potential and set them up for lifelong learning. We believe that capabilities for education start with early childhood education, and then moves onto good primary schooling, successful secondary schooling and further education at university and technical trades, and then the importance of lifelong learning throughout careers. The entire education, training and human capital development progress through life is important. We focus on early childhood because we want our people to grasp the importance of the first three years of life and particularly the importance of kindergarten. We must get kindergarten education right—including the commitment to deliver twenty minutes of explicit instruction in pre-literacy —as a crucial stepping stone to successful primary schooling. Our children can and will succeed in primary school if we furnish them with pre-literacy skills in kindergarten. This is the most crucial step in the entire educational process facing our children and in the future we must therefore ensure that stepping stone is in place. 3. STRONG NURTURING FAMILIES

Families nurture and provide for each other and have strong bonds of responsibility and care, parents give children good memories and set them up for the future living in safe, prideful homes. As we have stated above, our first intervention was Family Income Management—or MPower as we now call it—that provides financial literacy and money management services to our people because we believe that “a better life begins with a budget”. The strong preference to support families with the practical details of their domestic lives so that they have money, they have prideful homes, they have good beds to sleep in, and their material needs are met by simply managing their domestic lives better. Pama Futures is based in the conviction that supporting families to have their domestic lives sorted out and they are provided with support in order to do so, is foundational to our development agenda. Functioning families are also a natural state of affairs. Functioning families were a feature of our traditional society. Functioning families were destroyed by the European invasion. Our experience over the past two centuries saw our people striving hard to keep our families intact and indeed rebuild families after they were destroyed. The parlous situation we are in today is because of the injuries and violence suffered by families through the colonial period and it is to honour, and restore the natural strength of our traditional families, that we value nurturing families and want to restore them as the norm in our communities.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council



Our villages provide respectful and mutually contributing neighbourhoods, with a volunteering ethic to build social capital, trust and participation. Ask not what your community can do for you but what you can do for your community. Social capital is important to our communities: when we live together with our neighbours and relatives we need to develop trust and cooperation. It is not just a matter of service delivery and individual enterprise, it is also a matter of contributing to the communities that we live in. Volunteering to participate in social, cultural and recreational activities within the community are crucial to the health of a vibrant community. Recreational facilities for children, youth and grownups requires community members to contribute freely of their time and to value the investment they make in their own people. The more participation you have the more trust you build within a community. And trust is the currency of social capital. And communities with high levels of social capital are communities where there is high level of trust, and they have high levels of participation and voluntary activities. 5. VILLAGES WITH RESPECT FOR NORMS, CUSTOMS AND LAWS

Our villages are places where there is respect for each other and people abide by our norms, customs and laws, and we are able to settle disputes and violence of all forms is strongly sanctioned. It is universally known that successful societies are those where respect for the law and institutions that enable disputation that arises to be settled efficiently are present. But it is not just the laws of the community its members abide by that underpin its strength, but also the norms and customs of the people. Indeed norms and customs are as important if not more important than the laws themselves. Laws alone will not make for a successful community. Qualities of respect, mutual cooperation and honour are based in custom and norms as much as they are in the law. Part of our challenge in Cape York Peninsula is that we need to restore respect for norms, obeisance to our customs, and fidelity to the laws that we want our peoples to abide by. 6. GIRLS’ FREEDOM AND EMPOWERMENT

We ensure the safety, growth and empowerment of girls so they realise their fullest potential and inequality and injustice against women is eradicated from our society. We want to emphasise the importance of our girls for the future of our people. We want them to be empowered. We want them to look Introduction


forward to life with all the promise and potential that they deserve. They are key to our future, both in themselves and in terms of their role in making our vision come to pass. So Pama Futures is all about changing the circumstances of girls and women so that they stand in a position of quality with men and they are respected by all of our people, and our girls in particular are celebrated and nurtured in their future lives. 7. BOYS’ SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-RESPECT

Our boys grow up with self-esteem and respect for themselves and for women, all deserving of dignity and care. We also believe that self-esteem and self-respect for boys is a crucial capability that we must build. We want boys to have respect for themselves and for women, we want them to have self-esteem, and we want them to be confident about the future. We want particularly to help them to be positive about seizing their potential and to take advantage of opportunities before them. We want them to avoid the pitfalls of youth and all the “croc pools” that face them in their formative years. We want them to look forward to their futures. So in addition to our focus on the empowerment of girls is our focus on a pathway for our boys. 8. S TRONG ANCESTRAL LANGUAGES AND RICH CULTURAL CAPITAL

Our people have the opportunity to learn and transmit to their children their ancestral language and cultural knowledge and heritage to preserve and grow our cultural capital. The strength of our ancestral languages and rich cultural capital is a true capability. It is not just a nice addition to the social and economic dimensions of our capabilities that we must build, it is actually crucial to the achievement of those social and economic objectives. Revivification of our languages and cultures is a necessary concomitant to social and economic growth. It is when we are confident about our identity and our path and how we can carry them successfully into the future that we will embrace the changes to our social and economic condition that are necessary. As long as assimilation remains the only option we will fail in our socio-economic quest. By marrying our identity and culture with our socio-economic aspirations we will then have the engine we need to close the gap on disparity. It is when we put assimilation behind us and we locate what Yolngu leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu said about becoming “a modern version of ourselves” that we will succeed. 9. NATURAL LEADERSHIP AND GOOD GOVERNANCE

Natural leadership thrives and we are all free to participate in decisions about the future, organisations are well managed and there is good governance at all levels. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


The international development literature says that development requires reform leadership and good governance. This is obvious and we have taken great strides engaging all forms of leadership in Cape York Peninsula. We have a model for leadership that we have been promoting based on the idea of “natural leadership�. It is based on the belief there are natural leaders everywhere in our communities at all levels of our families, communities and First Nations. These are not necessarily leaders in a structural sense, they are not present in organisations, they may not have organisational or political power, but they have the moral authority of leadership within them, and they display it within their social environments. As well as ensuring natural leaders are able to contribute to our development we want to support the formal leadership of our First Nations and the formal leadership of our society. We also need good governance of our organisations, rigorous prudential stewardship of our resources, and absence of corruption and mismanagement. Building and maintaining good governance is something we have paid a great deal of attention to over the past two decades and have built capabilities in our organisation to continue the growth of good governance at all levels of our society.

4. Sen

A 1999 Development as Freedom. New York: Alfred Knopf.


Every post-school person is able to work, including unpaid self-reliance, to sustain a living and there are jobs for those needing them, and mobility to go to places where jobs are. It is important to realise that we want our people to work regardless of whether it is for money. Not all work generates an income, self-reliance is also an important aspect of our work agenda. Building ourselves good bush homes on our traditional homelands, looking after our country, fulfilling our cultural and social responsibilities, are also about unpaid work. The dividend we get from self-reliance and this type of unpaid work is different from money, but just as important. Also we require work for income so that we are able to lift ourselves out of poverty and able to build assets and wealth for ourselves and our families. We want to mandate work across the entire spectrum of community members throughout their lives. Everyone can perform work. Everyone must perform work, if we are to have happy lives in the future. 11. ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY

Every person or group that desires to establish and operate an enterprise is able to do so, and there is local and regional economic development and industries to sustain them. Amartya Sen who first articulated the concept of capabilities in his book Development as Freedom4 identifies the ability to engage in enterprise as a key capability. Because of the structural constraints Introduction


and barriers facing members of Indigenous communities on communally held lands, relying upon static bureaucratic structures as we are, we have not really had that capability. We do not really enjoy that capability today as we have not been able to do so in the past. The capabilities we must build must allow industries to be developed on our newly restored homelands. Industries that can sustain enterprise either via external investments into our lands, or enterprises established by our people. This capacity to develop enterprise and industry is fundamental to the economic development of Cape York Peninsula. 12. S TEWARDSHIP OF LAND AND RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE Â DEVELOPMENT

There is stewardship of the land and resources of the community, and we are able to use them for sustainable development. Our lands are naturally and culturally of international conservation value and significance to our own First Nations. We have an important national and international role, as well as a role within our own cultures to preserve and manage our traditional homelands. The ecosystem services we provide need to be a fundamental part of the economy of our region. Building the capability of our people to continue the management of our lands and seas and the resources within them for the benefit of our own people as well as the planet, is a stewardship capability that is key to Pama Futures. We do not have those capabilities fully developed and we believe that stewardship of our lands and resources, including the ability to utilise the land for sustainable development, is a key component of our development agenda. 13. B UILD TRIBAL WEALTH FOR INTER-GENERATIONAL EQUITY

Tribes and communities are able to build their tribal wealth for intergenerational equity. We believe that tribes need to accumulate wealth over time, particularly where they have the opportunity of generating profits and rental income from the harvesting of the natural resources on their lands. The question is one of equity for future generations and the crucial need to invest in the future. Tribes must develop their tribal wealth in order to support their future generations. Particularly with non-renewable natural resources, there is a moral duty to preserve the capital extracted out of mining and other resource development to be set aside for the development of future generations. Natural resource capital must be converted into future human and cultural capital of our people Tribal wealth funds are required to maintain languages, cultures and the cultural capital of First Nations. We will work on structures to enable wealth funds to accumulate, to have the requisite prudential Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


management to ensure their safe-keeping and proper management, as well as fair mechanisms for distributions and allocations in the future. National legislation establishing tribal wealth funds as a species of “superannuation” funds is a concept that Cape York Institute has developed. Pama Futures will be prosecuting the concept of tribal wealth funds with government as we believe it is a crucial element of our reform plans for the future. 14. VIBRANT ACCESSIBLE MARKETS

There are markets for goods and services, property, capital and labour that are accessible and vibrant and which enable a strong private and co-operative sectors to grow. There is an absence of vibrant markets on Aboriginal land. It is the most crucial missing piece when you consider the nature of First Nations communities and homelands. No modern societies can prosper without accessible markets in labour, property, and goods and services. Markets need to be built where they are absent, barriers and constraints to the operation of markets must be overcome and removed, and these markets need oversight and governance. As well as the growth of private sector firms through the establishment of markets, we believe that cooperative structures represent a particularly suitable mechanism for encouraging enterprise on Indigenous land involving Indigenous people. 15. INFRASTRUCTURE TO SUSTAIN VILLAGES AND THE ECONOMY

There is necessary transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure to sustain the community and enable economic development. The development of the Third World tells us about the importance of physical infrastructure to development. Every community requires access to transport, telecommunication and energy infrastructure, to service communities, and particularly to enable economic development. Much infrastructure is put in place by governments to enable local and regional economic development. Crucial infrastructure requirements need to be identified and solutions found. This is a universal capability necessary for regions to rise out of poverty and under-development. Pama Futures places the need for physical infrastructure at the fore of our program to develop capabilities.

WE BUILD THESE CAPABILITIES ITERATIVELY OVER TIME AND THE GAP WILL CLOSE As with many development journeys, building capabilities is an iterative process that takes time, not all of the capabilities can be built in short order and all at once. The building of capabilities requires a great deal of patience and persistence. Some set of cogs drive other cogs, and some things are pre-requisite before other things become possible. This Introduction


is a question of how well we plan and adapt our plans as we move along. The point is to get a virtuous cycle of progress to start rolling; once we get momentum on good things then that creates its own forward progress. The development of Singapore under its foundation leaders took 50 years to go from Third World to leaders of the First World.5 Our development aspiration and opportunity may be different from that of Singapore, but nevertheless we can build those capabilities that are necessary. We can close the gap on disparity for our people, understanding that as long as we stick to the vision for our people and we continue to build our own agency in our own development, then we will reach the goal we seek.


Yew, LK 2000 From Third World to First: The Singapore Story - 1965-200. Harper Collins Publishers, NY.

WE NEED LEGISLATION Legislation is crucial. This is the core work of governments. This is the responsibility of governments. This is what we mean by structural reform: when governments take the responsibilities, they have to create the necessary institutions that enable development to take place and remove barriers to Indigenous people taking charge of their destiny. We call upon governments to enact legislation to give effect to Pama Futures. Too often in the past, governments have shirked their responsibilities to secure the structural reforms, because they shied away from the responsibility of conceiving and enacting the requisite legislation. Legislation is the means by which government’s alignment and fidelity to reform agendas is secured. We need legislation.

WE ARE ASKING THE STATE AND THE COMMONWEALTH TO LEAVE BEHIND THE FAILURES OF THE PAST AND WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH US FOR OUR PAMA FUTURES Our message at the end of the day is that the failures and shortcomings of the past should not leave us pessimistic about the future. We are asking the State and the Commonwealth to face up to the failures of the past but not lower our aspiration for the future. We urge the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government to work with us in partnership to make Pama Futures a reality. We cannot do it alone without the government. And the government certainly has shown that it cannot do it alone. It requires a partnership. We urge both governments to study carefully our proposal here, to apply all diligence to its consideration, and to work with us in a timely and diligent manner to ensure that the hopes that are fervently set out here become our common commitment.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council





Policy Context We want to take responsibility for our own future. Agreed aspiration of Cape York First Nations people at the Palm Cove Summit, December 2017

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Part 1 Policy Context


Genesis of Pama Futures LAND RICH BUT DIRT POOR In 2017, the Cape York Land Council started an important conversation about the future. The strategic planning process, conducted with its Board of Directors, highlighted that the next three decades will be very different to the past three. The fight for land rights has been largely successful. We are now land rich, but still dirt poor. The key challenge will be the use of land to generate and sustain livelihoods for our people. A reform agenda started to take shape. It was decided to approach Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, to ascertain agreement with the Australian Government for such an agenda to prepare for the post-land claims future of Cape York. At a meeting with Minister Scullion and his department in June 2017 in Cairns, the case for change was made. For Cape York’s First Nations people land is once again an asset, with great potential to build livelihoods free from dependency. We now hold 26% of land in Cape York as Aboriginal freehold. There is a single remaining native title application to be determined on the mainland area, which is referred to as One Claim.1 When One Claim is finalised in coming years, it is likely that native title will be recognised over 95% of land on Cape York. Despite our Land Rights successes, First Nations people often observe we are ‘land rich but dirt poor’. Land is not effectively used to build wealth. Wealth is not just about money: it is also about culture, country and kinship. It is about ensuring for generations to come First Nations people do not just survive but thrive. Although land is now a significant asset, its potential to create wealth remains difficult to realise. Our cultures, history, and the patchwork of laws that delivered Land Rights, have produced a system that often impedes development. These challenges are unique to Indigenous landholders. Although Aboriginal freehold is communally held title— private land that should provide the same expansive private property rights and attendant potential development opportunities as fee simple freehold—burdensome red and green tape hinders development.2 The communal nature of Indigenous land ownership means development cannot proceed with the same ease as in the broader Australian system. Aligning private interests with communal interests must occur through negotiations in which intra-group politics, ‘free rider’ and ‘rent seeking’ behaviour can discourage enterprising individuals.3 The recognition of Land Rights under various statutory land rights schemes and native title has created different titles with different development opportunities. This patchwork is mirrored in a plethora of land holding bodies, as required under the various statutory schemes. These structures facilitate transactions on Indigenous land. Across the Cape there are now more than 70 such organisations, including Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) and Land Trusts. These organisations vary in their capacity, but most are small and lack the resources needed to Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


1. Cape

assist local people to effectively use and manage their land. Sometimes multiple land holding organisations exist to hold and manage different titles over the same area of land (e.g. Aboriginal freehold and native title may co-exist, so there may be both a Land Trust and PBC). This creates structurally embedded conflict and adds further administrative and legal complexity to decision-making about such land. As a result of these complexities affecting Indigenous land, transactions are characterised by costs, delays, and uncertainty—which deter investment and impede entrepreneurial activity. Large areas of land are currently languishing. It is held by Indigenous owners but sits entirely outside the real economy and is not being used to generate wealth. The impact is cumulative. Indigenous landowners remain stuck in extreme socioeconomic disadvantage and lack the resources and capabilities required to access and use their country for any purpose, including for economic, social, cultural/spiritual or land management reasons. As the Land Rights claims era draws to a close, it is no longer the fight for Land Rights that demands attention, but the struggle to ensure we can effectively use and manage our land. The complexity hindering social, economic and cultural development, must be reduced, and landowners need resources to be able to use their land to generate wealth. Decisions to simplify the existing system and implement creative solutions can, and must, only occur with the consent of landowners. There is a great deal of work to be done so that the First Nations, as individuals, families and as land-owning groups, can plan and make these decisions. This requires structural reform, including changes to the role and structure of the Land Council, so support services enable First Nations to take charge of this next phase in our fight for empowerment and development.

York United #1 claim (QUD673/2014).

2. For

example, there is approximately 15% of Cape York that is Aboriginal freehold as the underlying title, but which is overlaid with national park protections. There are also other statutory land use planning and environmental regulations that limit development opportunity that impact on Aboriginal freehold. See also the 2016 Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia which confirms regulatory compliance and red tape are holding the region back. 3. Rent

seeking is where people want to unrealistically benefit from wealth creation through enterprise, without making any contribution toward its creation. This use of the term ‘rent-seeking’ carries a different meaning to how it would ordinarily be used by economists.

MINISTER URGES EMPOWERMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Minister Scullion heard us. He agreed there was a need to prepare for the post-land claims future, including restructuring the Land Council, and urged that Land Rights should not be considered in isolation, but should incorporate Empowerment and Economic Development. It was agreed that there must be broad support from the Cape York First Nations people for reforms to proceed. There is a now an historic opportunity to bring together Land Rights, Empowerment and Economic Development as part of one cohesive reform agenda—Pama Futures. This is our chance to cut through the deep and persistent policy challenges faced across Indigenous affairs in Australia. The success of Pama Futures can provide benefits and lessons for the nation, beyond Cape York Peninsula.

Part 1 Policy Context


The Gap is not closing Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, but despite an extended era of unprecedented growth and prosperity, pervasive inequalities persist for Indigenous Australians. The socioeconomic gap between non-Indigenous people and the original inhabitants outstrips any other settler country. Crises in suicide, child protection, incarceration, health and unemployment continue to escalate. Extraordinarily, Australia’s Indigenous peoples are now the most incarcerated people on the planet and Indigenous suicide rates are amongst the highest in the world.4 The child protection story is dire and continues to worsen. In Queensland, at current rates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will represent more than 50% of children in care by 2021. In Queensland, gaps in areas of health, education, employment, housing, imprisonment and mental health outcomes are also forecast to expand.5 The problems are most acute in remote areas such as Cape York. These are Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. We have failed to meet the seven specific Closing the Gap targets that provide the overarching framework in Indigenous affairs, agreed by all Australian governments from 2007. The Closing the Gap targets are: 1. To halve the gap in child mortality by 2018 2. To close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 3. For 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 4. To close the gap in school attendance by the end of 2018 5. To halve the gap in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students by 2018 6. To halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 7. To halve the gap in employment by 2018. By the tenth anniversary of Closing the Gap in 2018, only three targets are on track: to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020; to halve the gap in Indigenous child mortality by 2018, and to enrol 95% of four-year-olds in early childhood education by 2025. Three targets expire in 2018 without being met: to close the gap in school attendance; to halve the gap in reading and numeracy; and to halve the gap in employment. In some areas outcomes continue to worsen. The Closing the Gap target of halving the gap in employment by 2018, for example, has not been met—instead this gap has widened. Recent Census data shows the gap in labour-force participation is growing in Queensland’s remote communities (from 29.0% in 2006 to 35.4% in 2016) and the gap in median weekly personal income is also widening nationally, and across Queensland’s remote communities.

OUR CULTURES AND LANGUAGES ARE IN PERIL Strong ancestral languages are essential to First Nations’ identity, but they are important to Australia’s identity as they are a core element of our common heritage. The revitalisation of culture, language and Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


heritage is crucial to closing the gap because confidence, dignity and pride form the foundations for all wellbeing. First Nations’ land, languages and cultures are spiritually and practically interconnected. When the organised struggle of Cape York First Nations began in 1990, Elders at key Summits held on Cape York said they wanted their land back, and their languages and culture to be maintained. The Land Council was formed for this dual purpose. Yet while we have achieved substantial Land Rights success, there is little recognition or support for the maintenance of our languages and culture. Our languages are now critically threatened: the work to be done to preserve them is extensive and urgent. In Cape York, our languages are almost exclusively used in private contexts. There are few published texts, almost no educational resources, and levels of literacy in First Nations languages are low. The recording of oral literature and even the most basic linguistic data for the region is unfinished. Fluency in ancestral languages is decreasing with each generation. Many young parents are now unable to speak confidently to their children in their own mother tongue. Even the Wik-Mungkan language is shifting to English. Of around 55 macro languages and 155 language varieties once spoken in the region, many are moderately to severely endangered and the remainder are critically endangered. Since 2015, the Australian Government has supported the Pama Language Centre to work on salvaging linguistic detail and oral literature, language maintenance, revitalisation and revival projects. More effort is needed to halt the irreplaceable loss of our cultural heritage. The last fluent speaker of one of our languages passed away just as the Pama Language Centre was being established.

4. See

also 5. Queensland

Government, 2016 Towards a Queensland action plan for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. 6. Of the total spend of $33.4 billion, around $6

billion is allocated specifically for Indigenous programs (referred to as ‘Indigenous specific’ expenditure) and the remainder is spent on services all Australians enjoy such as health and education services. See SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision) 2017 Indigenous Expenditure Report, Productivity 7. The

Australian Government also makes significant investments in Queensland’s remote and discrete communities in Queensland, although these details are not available. See Queensland Productivity Commission (QPC) 2017 Draft Report: Service Delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, QPC, Brisbane.

SUBSTANTIAL RESOURCES BUT POOR RESULTS In sharp juxtaposition with the ongoing crises affecting First Nations people, Australia has devoted substantial resources to closing the gap. A total of around $33.4 billion each year, or expenditure of around $44,000 per Indigenous person, is spent by governments in the name of First Nations people across Australia.6 This means Australia spends around double the amount per capita on programs and services for Indigenous people, and this ratio is even higher in remote areas where need and the cost of delivering services is greatest. The Queensland Government alone, for example, spends around $1.3 billion, or $32,000 per person, on service delivery in Queensland’s remote and discrete communities, including communities in Cape York. The majority (84%) of these Queensland Government expenditures are on mainstream services including schools, health care and policing.7 This point must be clearly understood. Whilst the headline figures are enormous, it is wrong to assume these funds are spent on Indigenous peoples. The vast majority of these funds go to mainstream government programs—in health, justice, education and so on—that service all citizens. There is no guarantee these funds actually service Indigenous people. Indigenous numbers within a state or territory determine funding allocations by the Commonwealth, including significant Part 1 Policy Context


loadings for levels of disadvantage but it does not mean this is what governments actually spend on Indigenous disadvantage. This point is poorly understood in public policy discussions and media reporting. The Productivity Commission reports on expenditure have failed to provide this clarity—and to ascertain and report more accurately actual spending levels rather than nominal allocations. This is a major disservice to Indigenous Australians. There is a serious productivity problem in Indigenous affairs. This is the main point. Substantial and increased expenditure has not produced corresponding improvements in outcomes. There is a desperate need to improve outcomes with the funds available. Further increases in funding alone cannot close the gap. As stated by the QPC “more money is not the answer—there needs to be changes to the way that services are resourced.”8

8. p.114.

See also e.g. 2017 Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory at p. 222; Carmody, T 2013 Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection, Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry at p.11. Commission, Canberra. 9.

The QPC’s Draft Report was released for further input in October 2017. The report was finalised and provided to the Queensland Government on 22 December 2017. Under the QPC Act, the Queensland Government has up to six months to provide a response. It is not until a response is issued that the final report can be published by the QPC. 10. QPC

2017, Draft Report, p. 83. See also Empowered Communities 2015, Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples: Design Report, Wunan Foundation, p.13. 11. p. 12.

A new productivity approach is needed Vast resources devoted to closing the gap are distributed through a substantial governance, funding, policy and service delivery system. It would be wrong to call it an architecture, because there is no good design to the system. A succession of inquiries, reviews and reports over many years highlight the flaws embedded across the Indigenous affairs system. The most cogent articulation of the problems and solutions needed, has been provided in the Draft Report of the Queensland Productivity Commission (QPC) on its Inquiry into Service Delivery in Queensland’s Remote and Discrete Indigenous Communities.9 The QPC’s Draft Report is consistent with the preceding 2015 Empowered Communities Design Report, a collaborative effort of Indigenous leaders across eight regions of Australia, setting out the case for change and proposing systemic reform. As the problems have been previously described, they are only briefly reprised here. Firstly, as noted by the QPC, governments have “usurped ‘responsibility’ for the welfare of Indigenous people over many decades.”10 Government assumes a disproportionate importance in Indigenous communities, and effectively define and confine the potential for socioeconomic development. Public funding dominates the economies of remote Indigenous communities in the form of welfare payments and grant funding for service delivery. There are very few private sector economic activities, and most of the jobs depend on public funding. As the QPC concludes, in Queensland’s Indigenous communities “the government essentially ‘operates’ the community—individual choice, markets, rewards and responsibilities have a limited role.” 11 Secondly, decisions about what services get delivered, where, to whom, by whom and for how long, are not cohesive but are made through the top-down bureaucratic policy and funding ‘maze’ (see Figure 3). The QPC notes that for any Indigenous community in Queensland, at least 13 Queensland Government departments, as well as the Australian Government are involved in coordination, policy development and Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


p. xviii

13. Empowered

Communities Report. See also Australian Government, 2017 Discussion Paper: Remote Employment and Participation, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra. 14.

QPC 2017 Draft Report, p. xx; Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples: Design Report, Wunan Foundation, p. 33.


service delivery. This bureaucratic maze serves just over 40,000 people or less than 1 per cent of the state’s population.12 Services report back to government as the funder and decision-maker, and there is no relationship between supply and demand. First Nations people, as the intended beneficiaries of services, have no decision-making power at any point. Service provision is dominated by large external NGOs, including not-for-profits as well as for-profits. Indigenous leadership and organisations have been progressively crowded-out.13 FIGURE 3 THE BUREAUCRATIC POLICY AND FUNDING ‘MAZE’: A STYLISED MAP
























Source: Adapted from QPC, 2017 Draft Report, p. xix

Thirdly, ongoing failures drive a frenetic pace of policy churn (or policy pulsing) through the top-down system.14 Achieving progress, and learning over time, is almost impossible with a lack of stability or cohesive leadership. During the ten years of the Closing the Gap, there have been five changes of Prime Minister, two Indigenous Affairs Ministers and five Health Ministers overseeing delivery at the Australian Government level. In Queensland, there have been four Premiers and seven Ministers of Indigenous affairs. In the constant cycle of top-down policy reviews, government-led consultations, and submission processes, First Nations cannot exert the influence they need to pursue a cohesive strategy over the longterm for their own places. Consider the number of recent and current reviews at the Australian Government level, for example: • The Remote Housing Review reported in October 2017 on the massive expenditure under the national $5.5 billion Indigenous remote housing scheme from 2008-2018. The review itself notes the program was hampered by constantly changing policies, and sheets home the blame to all governments in what it states is “a sign of the times” Part 1 Policy Context


• Reviews on Indigenous education and incarceration concluded in December 2017 • The approach to participation and employment services for remote areas through the Community Development Programme (CDP) is under review. CDP is the sixth Australian Government version of the program in ten year • There is a call for input on improvements to the evaluation of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) (after a review by the National Audit Office was critical that results achieved under the strategy could not be determined) • There is a review of the overarching Closing the Gap framework currently underway. After its comprehensive inquiry, the QPC—just like the 2015 Empowered Communities Design Report before it—concluded that improvements in Indigenous communities will not be achieved through the current system of policy, funding and service delivery. As shown in GOVERNMENT OPTS OUT Figure 4, the QPC considered trajectories of change and found that the status quo is unlikely to close the gap. Far-reaching policy and structural reforms are required to transform the system and its outcomes. FIGURE 4 A COMPREHENSIVE REFORM AGENDA IS MOST LIKELY TO IMPROVE OUTCOMES

Source: Adapted from QPC, 2017 Draft Report, p. 103

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


The underlying systemic failures must be confronted. Business as usual will never get us there. Two core changes to deliver better outcomes more efficiently are identified both in the QPC Draft Report and the Empowered Communities Design Report: 1. Development must be the goal 2. Empowerment is the means to achieve development.

15. QPC 16.

2017 Draft Report, p. xvii.

QPC 2017 Draft Report p. 142.


QPC 2017 Draft Report, draft recommendation 7, at p. xxxii.

Development is the goal First Nations want to move towards sustainability and development.15 In fact we have a Right to Development that is an inalienable human right by virtue of which … every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. (Article 1.1, Declaration on the Right to Development, UN General Assembly 1986) When development is the goal, the solutions are fundamentally different to those that currently dominate. Central to a development approach is the understanding that services alone cannot close the gap. A far more holistic approach is needed. There is a universal formula of healthy childhood development that allows individuals and families to develop and flourish—at its core it involves parenting and a home that provides love and support for safe and healthy development, and it involves a good education. Good services are needed to help to build education and health capabilities, for example, but they are not sufficient. A development approach prioritises the transition of Indigenous communities from public economies to market economies that are plugged into and part of the mainstream.16 The right enabling environment must be created—such as property markets, labour markets, and necessary infrastructure—so development can ensue. Private sector activity must expand, and this means governments must divest themselves of roles and responsibilities that have the potential to displace or crowd-out individual or local initiative and investment opportunities.17 Increasingly, the need for such reforms to transition remote Indigenous communities from welfare economies into real economies has been acknowledged. • The review of CDP states that a new approach must put job seekers on a pathway to employment, including by growing the remote labour market and incentivising people to move from welfare to work. • The need for Indigenous land reforms to enable economic development on Indigenous land has been the focus in recent years of the

Part 1 Policy Context


Australian Human Rights Commission and the COAG Investigation into Indigenous Land Administration and Use.

• The Australian Government has a general focus on growing remote economies across Northern Australia in the implementation of the Our North, Our Future White Paper18. which ostensibly adopts a 20-year framework, and is backed by investment of more than $6 billion, with a further $5 billion made available in subsidised loans through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). Disappointingly this initiative has a relatively small focus on Indigenous economic development given the fact that Indigenous people are a major population base and are major landholders in the north, although some pilot Indigenous land reform projects are being supported.


See also other recent Australian Government reviews including the 2015 Australian Law Reform Commission review of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and COAG’s 2015 Review of Indigenous Land Administration and Use.

The Cape York Institute illustrates the elements of a development approach in Figure 5, showing that services are needed to support individuals and families to develop capabilities and promote child development, but services alone are not enough. The right environment is also required in terms of having labour markets, property markets, goods and services markets, industry sector development, financial capital and infrastructure. Figure 5 also shows other elements in a holistic development framework, including the strong foundations of good governance and leadership; cultural heritage and language; and social capital and volunteering. FIGURE 5 A HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT APPROACH

Source: Cape York Institute, 2017. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


The objective of development is to enhance all individuals’ ability to shape their lives, meaning that any successful development approach must foreground the role of individual, family and collective agency and responsibility—that is, the role of Empowerment. Empowerment is not just an important end in its own right. It is the means to achieve development.

The way to get there is Empowerment Nearly every serious consideration of any problem afflicting contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society highlights the same ultimate conclusion—solutions depend on Indigenous empowerment, self-determination, control, power, autonomy, engagement, and responsibility for decision-making.19 The ultimate cause of our problems is the oppression of our people by our structural condition. It is not that the Australian majority and the country’s governments intend this oppression. Indeed they wish for us to be free and prosperous. However the structural predicament we are in is a state of oppression. Structural solutions are required if we are to become free of oppression. This oppression is rooted in our histories of dispossession and trauma, but continues today with governments setting our priorities, making the laws, policies and funding decisions that govern our futures. Disempowerment is the status quo and has been for too long. Structural, institutional and policy changes are needed to confront this ultimate cause of the problems faced in First Nations communities. Further government-led attempts to repair the system are not what is needed. A new system must be put in place, and First Nations people must play a leading role. Internationally and within Australia too, government and non-governmental agencies have come to realise that development does not occur where there is a lack of active, effective and lasting participation of the intended beneficiaries. Development must be by First Nations people, not merely for them. The review of Closing the Gap, endorsed by all governments through COAG in 2017, states:

19. See

e.g. Johnston E 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: National Report Volume 1 at paras 1.7.8, 1.7.9, 1.7.14, 1.7.18 and 1.7.19, Keating P 1992 Redfern Speech, Redfern; Perkins C et al. 1994 Recognition, Rights and Reform: A Report to Government on Native Title Social Justice Measures, ATSIC; Dodson M 1996 Assimilation versus self-determination: No contest, at the HC (Nugget) Coombs Northern Australia Inaugural Lecture; Scott E 2000 Reconciliation: a culture of peace-making, Speech at Cultures of Peace, Perth; Hunt J and Smith D 2007 Indigenous Community Governance Project; Two year research findings, CAEPR, Canberra; Yunupingu G 2008 ‘Tradition, Truth & Tomorrow’, The Monthly; Rudd K 2008 Presenting the Sydney Peace Prize to Patrick Dodson University of Sydney, Sydney; Walker B, Porter D and Marsh I 2012 Fixing the hole in Australia’s Heartland: How Government needs to work in remote Australia, Desert Knowledge Australia, Alice Springs; Gooda M 2013 Social Justice and Native Title Report 2013 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission, Canberra; Abbott T 2013 Speech to the Garma Festival, Gulkula; Mundine W 2013 Shooting an Elephant: Four Giant Steps, Gulkula; Yunupingu D 2013 Speech to the Garma Festival, Gulkula; Chaney F 2015 A road to real reconciliation with Aboriginal Australia, John Button Oration, Melbourne. Wild R and Anderson P 2007 Little Children are Sacred: Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Northern Territory Government, Darwin; Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory 2017, Darwin.

Australian governments acknowledge they need to work differently with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. To that end, Australian governments have committed to work in genuine partnership with Indigenous leaders, organisations and communities, to identify the priorities that will inform how governments can better design and deliver programs and services, to close the gap.

Part 1 Policy Context


At the ten-year anniversary of Closing the Gap in 2018, the Prime Minister said: We’re doing more to use local expertise to design solutions to local problems and our best example of that is Empowered Communities. We are hopeful that through the Closing the Gap refresh process, this model can be expanded beyond the existing eight sites to more communities seeking to work in a place-based regional governance approach and one that meets the needs criteria set by the Empowered Communities leaders. There is a shift to Empowerment occurring in Australia, albeit belatedly. Governments now acknowledge that Indigenous empowerment is needed. But real change needs structural reform, to ensure the words become the practical, operational reality.

The method for Empowerment While there has been much talk about the need for a better partnership between governments and First Nations people, there have been few serious attempts to set out the structural, institutional and policy changes required for empowerment. The Empowered Communities Design Report of 2015 and the recent QPC Draft Report are exceptions. These two reports completely concur in identifying the method by which government can move from top-down, centralised control and operation of Indigenous communities, to an empowerment approach that ensures Indigenous people themselves can drive gains at a placebased level. The method for Empowerment requires: • Place-based plans, developed through inclusive participation, in which the people of a place set out their needs and priorities • Agreement making between governments and Indigenous people of a place about how investment is to be used and setting expectations about what will be achieved • A new interface/structure (such as Partnership Tables) to enable the grassroots to influence negotiations between governments and the people of a place • Funding reforms so budgets are controlled closer to those affected, including: — Governments to provide place-based transparency of funding flow — Place-based pooled funding arrangements — Indigenous people acting as decision-makers about funding grants to services (as purchasers, or co-purchasers) — Increasing Indigenous organisations’ participation in service delivery and reducing the dominance of external NGOs

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


• Monitoring and evaluation that facilitates adaptive practice, and accountability • Independent oversight of the reforms. The method to achieve empowerment has been set out. What is yet to occur is a strong commitment and effort across all levels of government to put in place the reforms that are needed

Pama Futures comes at a critical juncture Cape York’s Indigenous communities are at a crossroads in terms of the QPC’s report on service delivery and Empowered Communities, both of which recommend a major shift to empowerment. The Cape York Welfare Reform trial is also at an impasse, and a clear way forward is overdue. Pama Futures sets out a compelling pathway forward.

THE QUEENSLAND PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS The QPC report is arguably the most important Indigenous affairs policy document produced in the State of Queensland since the Protection Act was legislated in 1897 and while the Queensland Government’s response will be critical, the Australian Government is also a vital partner for any new approach. The QPC’s blueprint to empower First Nations people, is entirely consistent with Pama Futures. In fact, Pama Futures begins a great deal of work that must be done to implement the QPC’s recommendations in Cape York, and is strongly supported by the Australian Government. Most importantly, Pama Futures has demonstrated that there is broad support and many capable First Nations people across every sub-region prepared to help lead and drive the reforms.

EMPOWERED COMMUNITIES The pace that the Empowered Communities reforms have progressed has been slow. The Australian Government has supported a regional approach to implementation, while the Queensland Government has been awaiting the outcome of the QPC inquiry before committing to any reforms. Implementation in Cape York over the past two years has supported local reform leaders to promote broad-based, inclusive local participation in Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge to design local Development Agendas, and has enabled collective action to be taken locally on some issues. While some progress has been made, the larger structural reforms have not been activated. There has not yet been a Partnership Table convened or any agreements reached with government to settle placebased budgets, pooled funding mechanisms have not been established, and purchasing or co-purchasing arrangements for services have not yet been put in place in Cape York. In the Inner Sydney Empowered Communities region co-purchasing arrangements have been put in Part 1 Policy Context


20. Cape

place to influence service delivery decisions. Under Pama Futures, an empowerment approach can be implemented at scale across all of Cape York. This will allow greater momentum for the changes to be marshalled within government, particularly to implement the larger structural reforms required.


York Institute 2007 Hand Out to Hand Up Design Report, CYI. 21.

If the number of attendees at each Pama Futures event described below are added, this total participation figure is far larger. However, many individuals attended more than one of Pama Futures events, so this total participation figure is intended to provide a very conservative estimate of the total number of unique individuals that attended Pama Futures events.

The Cape York Welfare Reform trial—which has run from 2008 in the four communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge—is an important precursor to Pama Futures. It attempted to strike a new partnership between the Australian Government, Queensland Government and Indigenous people. It also sought to implement a targeted development approach, including educational engagement, activating local economic opportunities (through a ‘lighthouse’ economic development project in each community), enabling home ownership, and restoring social responsibility by vesting local authority in local leaders on the Family Responsibilities Commission.20 Progress has been variable. A 2013 independent evaluation concluded that after only three years there was “a level of progress that has rarely been evident in previous reform programs in Queensland’s remote Indigenous communities”. However, momentum for further change stalled over time. Despite some standout achievements and some serious failings, Cape York Welfare Reform has now become another static ‘program’—stuck in trial mode—rather than continuing its promising initial trajectory of shifting to a comprehensive development approach. Under Pama Futures, First Nations people in trial communities, and governments as partners, have the opportunity to reinvigorate change through participatory planning of place-based development. Current funding should be segued into the new Empowerment agenda so that the positive programs under Cape York Welfare Reform can be maintained and programs targeting new areas developed.

Over 800 Cape York people involved in Pama Futures No shift to empowerment and development can occur without the First Nations themselves driving the change. Over the past six months, over 800 people21 from Cape York’s First Nations have participated in an extensive and rigorous planning process to develop Pama Futures. Figure 6 illustrates the process to date.

DJARRAGUN WILDERNESS CENTRE SUMMIT An initial three-day Summit was attended by 200 people from across the Cape, at Djarragun Wilderness Centre on 29-31 August 2017. Minister Scullion attended and said if people wanted to take it up, this was a real opportunity to drive and accelerate social, cultural and

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


economic development. He stated he was willing to empower people by giving each sub-region a 75% weighting in decision-making for expiring grants under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), and to transition the Community Development Programme (CDP) from external providers to greater Indigenous ownership and control. It was a universal message that there was a need for the grassroots to be empowered, and there was a high level of support for the Land Council to be restructured. It was recognised that sub-regional planning was needed to progress Land Rights, Empowerment and Economic Development reforms. Delegates authorised follow-up correspondence to Minister Scullion outlining the next steps, and proposing that the Commonwealth’s commitment to our plan going forward be formalised in a procedural Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) committing the parties in a binding agreement under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

SUB-REGIONAL FACILITATORS Following Summit 1, two people from each of sub-regions were appointed to be Sub-Regional Facilitators (Facilitator). Each Facilitator is an important leader of reform thinking in their family and community, and they played a vital role in facilitating participation, and providing ongoing communication between the sub-regions and the regional organisations.

SUB-REGIONAL DESIGN LABS Three Design Labs in Cairns involved around 10-20 people from each of four sub-regions. The Labs were held over two days, with time for each sub-region to separately progress its plans. • Design Lab 1: approximately 60 people attended from Aurukun,

Napranum and Weipa, Mapoon, and Lockhart • Design Lab 2: approximately 80 people attended from Kowanyama,

Starke/Lakefield/Kalpowar, Pormpuraaw, and Hope Vale/Cook tow • Design Lab 3: approximately 100 people attended from Coen, Laura, Yalanji/Mossman/Mossman Gorge and Wujal Wujal, and Northern Peninsula Area. The Facilitators played a critical role in preparing for the Labs, and they facilitated their own sub-region’s planning sessions at the Lab.

COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS Further workshops of two to three days were convened in communities which enabled reporting back from the Labs, building community awareness, and provided a further opportunity for input. More than 400 people participated across 12 communities. The Facilitators encouraged participation and co-facilitated with content leads from the Land Council and Cape York Partnership (CYP).

Part 1 Policy Context


PALM COVE SUMMIT On 11 and 12 December 2017 a second two-day summit was held at Palm Cove attended by more than 400 people from across Cape York’s sub-regions. Facilitators played a key role in presenting on progress in their sub-region, and facilitating further planning sessions. Minister Scullion sent an audio-visual presentation, which emphasised his commitment to this opportunity. Propositions or commitments were agreed by delegates, and an artwork was signed to symbolise the historic shift occurring, and the commitment of those present to realising the new way forward. FIGURE 6 PAMA FUTURES CO-DESIGN PROCESS TO DATE

GENEROUS CORPORATE SUPPORT Pama Futures has received very substantial pro-bono corporate support, which made a great deal of progress possible. The equivalent of a $1.5 million contribution was provided from management consultant companies, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Two Collaborate. A BCG team was seconded for three months, and Two Collaborate teams assisted with the Labs and Summit 2. The Two Collaborate teams included independent facilitators, and graphic artists to illustrate the key concepts and discussions as they took place (figures in this report provide examples). Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


WORK IS ONGOING Every sub-region will move into implementation in 2018 but this does not mean that the co-design and planning phase is over. Indeed, grassroots planning will be an ongoing focus to iterate sub-regional and regional plans. Ongoing participation and planning must be owned at that local level. Willingness of local leaders and participants to drive the process forward—as the Facilitators have done—will be crucial. Enabling support must be provided from the regional organisations and from government.

Part 1 Policy Context



Pama Futures We want to plan and decide development agendas for our people and communities, and sub-regions.

We want to empower the grassroots. We want to enable local decision-making. We are many communities and sub-regions, but we speak with one voice on this. We want to use our land to pursue social and economic development for our people. e want to enable members of W our community to use our land, with proper controls to ensure that it is done in the right way. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


he CYLC will help us to use T our land, and to do this it will need to change how it is structured and governed. e will build our decisionW making up from families and tribes sitting around campfires up to sub-regions and then for Cape York. We want to determine priorities for empowerment in our sub-region. e commit to focusing on W the development of our families and children, as well as our clan and tribal groups and our communities.

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e want to deliver services W ourselves, with a staged transition of control, understanding that service delivery alone will not empower our people – that we must build our economic, social and cultural capital. e would like to start W by taking ownership of the CDP program with a staged hand-over plan.

We will make our land ready for investment, in ways that are in keeping with out culture. Agreed aspirations of Cape York First Nations people at the Palm Cove Summit, December 2017

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


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We have a breakthrough opportunity that holds genuine potential to close the gap in cape york peninsula. Pama Futures is about implementing empowerment to transform our communities from islands of disadvantage that sit outside the mainstream economy, into vibrant places that are the anchor point for first nations people to stay close to their homelands whilst orbiting to opportunities wherever they are. Pama Futures is the product of a broad co-design process, where first nations of Cape York are leading the development of details through which the new and empowering partnership with government can be achieved. Part 2 sets out what has been achieved so far through the strategic efforts of cape york’s first nations people under Pama Futures, and what next steps are proposed as a result.

Overview of Pama Futures Pama Futures provides the planning and organisation required to create an intelligent and dynamic system across Cape York, connecting with state and federal government, through which First Nations can drive vital reforms in three streams: Land Rights, Empowerment and Economic Development. These reforms will strengthen the foundational areas of Governance and Enablement; Culture and Language; and Monitoring and Evaluation. Work to strengthen these foundations is interwoven throughout the three streams. Figure 7 illustrates the three reform streams and the strong foundational elements needed to close the gap. FIGURE 7 PAMA FUTURES: THREE REFORM STREAMS SUPPORTED BY STRONG FOUNDATIONS

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


The three streams Under Pama Futures planning has confirmed the content of each of the three streams and the leading major focus in each area: 1. Land Rights reforms are needed so First Nations people can increasingly sustain themselves—socially, culturally and economically—from their ancestral lands. Land Rights reforms have a major focus on the restructure of the Land Council so Indigenous landowners can realise their aspirations for caring for country, culture and people, and for economic and commercial business development. 2. Empowerment realigns the relationship between the First Nations and governments—so that Indigenous people of a place are taking responsibility for themselves, rather than governments having all the responsibility. Empowerment reforms have a major focus on ensuring all areas of Cape York are taking control of the budget for their sub-region. 3. Economic Development is needed to Close the Gap on employment and to enable the long term social and economic viability of Cape York by reducing reliance on government. Economic Development reforms have a major focus on the creation of Investment Ready Tenures so Indigenous people can choose to have their land plugged into the mainstream economy.

Strong foundations GOVERNANCE First Nations universally desire to replace the current top-down system of control and dependence, with processes and structures that empower decision-making at the grassroots level. Conflict and tension across multiple Indigenous interests is often structurally embedded and reinforced, rather than being effectively reconciled and harnessed for collective impact. Fragmented governance and decision-making currently disempowers the grassroots. Pama Futures builds clearer, more cohesive decision-making across the three streams. Empowerment co-design and decision-making must be broad and participatory. Land Rights decisions must continue to respect that traditional owners have the full say. Good decision-making in both the Land Rights and Empowerment streams is required to support Economic Development decision-making. Figure 8 illustrates that decision-making within each of the three streams is interconnected, although it may involve different actors in different streams.

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The first priority of Pama Futures is empowering the grassroots. This means accommodating multiple, overlapping and intersecting Indigenous interests—including the interests of individuals, families, clans and First Nations, and Indigenous organisations—in a way that builds responsibility, capability and empowerment, abides by the principle of subsidiarity, is as inclusive as possible, and respects cultural authority. For example, when it comes to participating in and making decisions about the community and its future, including in terms of services and budgets, everyone residing in the community should be able to participate and have a voice. Cape York’s 17 Indigenous communities are artefacts of the mission-era and residents include traditional owners and those who have multigenerational historical and residential association with the community. There are also a diaspora of people living in places such as Cairns that continue to have an interest in their home community and their ancestral lands. Those living elsewhere may also wish to participate in some decision-making about their community and/or ancestral lands from time-to-time, and they should be included or involved via family discussions and arrangements. Further, Pama Futures has introduced a new focus on planning and organisation at the level of the 12 sub-regions of Cape York. The sub-regional focus contrasts with the usual approach which focuses almost exclusively on Indigenous communities. A new focus on the broader sub-region is needed so that the land surrounding communities is better Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


included in planning processes. Areas of land surrounding communities where Land Rights are recognised must form a significant part of the development story if people are going to reduce their dependence on government and sustain themselves from their land. Communities remain important, indeed, they are key focal points within each sub-region (see Figure 9). FIGURE 9 A NEW FOCUS ON 12 SUB-REGIONS ACROSS CAPE YORK PENINSULA

STRENGTHENING CULTURES AND LANGUAGES Strong cultures and languages must underscore progress across the three streams to close the gap. Unless we keep our cultures and languages strong, closing the gap simply means assimilation. Conversely, without socioeconomic development, our cultures and languages will continue to decline. Most Cape York people will readily agree that, as one person put it during discussions on this topic, “even if your only interest is in keeping culture strong, it can’t be done without economic development.” Part 2 Pama Futures


Some Economic Development opportunities are easily aligned with keeping our cultures and languages strong. The Dreaming Track initiative in Part 4 of this report, for example, can provide an anchor economic development project that generates jobs and enterprise opportunities—while leveraging our competitive advantage and reinforcing incentives for strengthening our cultures and languages. Other Economic Development opportunities, such as mining may appear more difficult to reconcile with the connectedness of First Nation’s land and cultures. The reality is, however, that Cape York’s Indigenous people cannot build a future based only on eco-tourism. We can lift our children from disadvantage and create wealth from mining where it is appropriate. We need to build our economic strength at the same time as we keep our culture strong, like the Jews, Indians and Chinese have done successfully in Australia. It is First Nations themselves that must decide how we will nurture our culture, while we also face the reality that business is business in Cape York, as is the case in China or Sydney.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION FOR ADAPTIVE LEARNING Monitoring and evaluation for adaptive learning is critical. An adaptive approach avoids the assumption that development is a linear process. It aims to be flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. It is the First Nations of Cape York who are in it for the long haul—and it is their learning as individuals, leaders and organisations that must be central. A new monitoring and evaluation approach is a focus of Part 5 of this report.

1. Land Rights reforms Recognition of our Land Rights provides cause for great optimism but there are challenges standing in the way of development. We have work to do to ensure that statutory land rights, native title and other property rights are held through a properly supported system of local and regional governance, so that land assets can be used and managed well by the grassroots, and in turn by their landholding entities. The Pama Futures participation process has built capability and understanding about the legal and administrative complexities associated with the current patchwork of land titles, and the potential to simplify arrangements through inter and intra-group agreements. There has also been a focus on developing the first iteration of sub-regional Land Rights plans, including by each sub-region conducting a ‘stocktake’ of its various land tenures and native title, and of its various land holding organisations, and by beginning to consider plans that can help to strengthen grassroots governance.

RESTRUCTURE OF THE LAND COUNCIL Land Rights planning has focused on changes to empower the grassroots, including through the restructure of the Land Council. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


While there is an ongoing need for NTRB (Native Title Representative Body) services, increasingly there is a need for more focus on brokering solutions for land reforms to enable economic development. There is also a need to ensure more financially viable PBCs that can reliably and rigorously perform their functions, including the large volume of administrative work required. CAMPFIRE GOVERNANCE

Each sub-region supports building grassroots governance and capability to use and manage land, and that this must begin at the level of the family and the clan. A family/clan ‘campfire model’ means that family groups have regular, voluntary and self-organising get togethers, at which aspirations and plans for ancestral lands are discussed and developed. These campfires provide the foundations that strengthen the direction and input of traditional owners to their PBCs and Land Trusts. Each sub-region’s Land Rights plan will provide details of its campfire model. While the campfire governance model is vital for effectively managing land, it will also strengthen the input of the grassroots into decision-making across other streams of Empowerment and Economic Development. CAPE YORK LAND COUNCIL PBC

The proliferation of under-resourced PBCs with limited capacity to properly perform their functions and respond to the considerable demands made of them must be resolved. Greater regionalisation can allow landowners to maintain full autonomy of land management and decision-making, but also ensure economies of scale, cost efficiency, and regional political representation and commercialisation. Restructure and rationalisation of PBCs can only occur in accordance with the wishes of traditional owners. It has already begun to occur with One Claim, and as other PBCs in Cape York see the advantages of the One Claim PBC model, and come to trust that the model does not interfere or impact on the rights of traditional owners to make decisions for their country, they may wish to also formally amalgamate into this larger PBC. Alternatively they could decide to nominate this larger PBC as an agent pursuant to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). A Cape York Land Council PBC will be established to be the PBC for One Claim, for any new native title determinations, and by agreement to also support existing PBCs. The Governing Board will provide broad and fair representation. Whereas the Land Council currently has a 17-person Board of Directors who are elected for a four-year term, the Cape York Land Council PBC will have a Governing Board of 24 people, two nominated from each of Cape York’s 12 sub-regions, with equal representation of men and women (i.e. 12 male and 12 female) (see Figure 10). Its rules would provide for four year terms, but will include an annual review of membership based upon whether: •R epresentation is satisfactory to the relevant sub-region •T he board member has attended meetings as required •T he board member has abided by the policies and rules of the PBC

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• The board member shared information and reported back to the sub-region. CAPE YORK LAND COUNCIL ADVISORY SERVICE A Cape York Land Council Advisory Service will continue to provide NTRB services to progress native title matters. The Advisory Service will play a new role in supporting landholders and organisations to use and manage land more effectively to generate income, and a broader range of professional services will be made available to landowners. The Advisory Service will be incorporated into the Cape York Partnership Group of organisations under the aegis of the new Pama Futures Trust. This incorporation allows for a number of existing Land Council and CYP functions to be combined. In particular, the integration of the Advisory Service with Cape York Enterprises within the Cape York Partnership Group will mean expanded support services can efficiently be made available far more widely to the sub-regions, including solutions brokering to simplify transactions in land; business support (e.g. legal and accounting services); support to start, run, and grow businesses; ongoing business mentorship; leadership training; succession planning support; corporate services support; and business-related literacy, numeracy and financial literacy. This incorporation into CYP will ensure that ‘back-end’ corporate services such as human resources and finance can be provided through the larger CYP organisational structure for improved efficiency (see Figure 10). The Cape York Land Council PBC will put in place a service agreement with the Cape York Land Council Advisory Service for support services which will ensure that all PBC functions can be performed rigorously including regarding the legal requirements of future acts, Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs), native title decisions, group consultation and decision-making processes. The incorporation of the Advisory Service into the Cape York Partnership Group will be supported by changes at the highest level of governance, including the creation of the Cape York Futures Forum to provide strong sub-regional oversight for the entire Pama Futures agenda. It will also be supported by changes to extend the membership of the Board of Trustees of the Cape York Partnership Group to form the new Pama Futures Trust with 13 members, including a number of foundation members but ensuring that all sub-regions are represented. CAPE YORK FUTURES FORUM To increase the voice of the grassroots and the sub-regions, a Cape York Futures Forum will be established with 48 sub-regional representatives, four from each of Cape York’s 12 sub-regions. Each sub-region will nominate two Land representatives, one Empowerment representative, and one Economic Development representative. The Cape York Futures Forum will meet twice a year, with government partners invited to participate in part of the meeting. One of these meetings will provide the basis of the annual Cape York Summit open to all (see Figure 11).

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council




Part 2 Pama Futures



The restructure also responds to feedback about the need for direct local access to personnel and enabling support through an on-theground network of community-based Hubs. The Hubs will employ a local person with skills similar to those of Sub-Regional Facilitators. One of the key roles of local Hub staff will be continuing to facilitate the planning processes initiated under Pama Futures. Hub staff will facilitate the connection of local people with a broad network of external expertise, including with the Advisory Service. Also, to respond to feedback about the need for more direct access, it is proposed that the Cape York Land Council PBC and Advisory Service are co-located in Cairns to ensure that there is close integration of the support services and PBC functions.

NEXT STEPS FOR LAND RIGHTS REFORMS 1. Restructure the Land Council to become the CYLC PBC with a nominated Board of 24 representing all of Cape York’s sub-regions and providing equal representation for men and for women, and a CYLC Advisory Service within the CYP Group. 2. Establish a Campfire Governance model co-designed with sub-region landholders. 3. Further development of sub-region land plans. Land Rights planning will continue in the first half of 2018 which will finalise the initial iteration of the plans.

2. Empowerment reforms Empowerment is our right to take responsibility. It has two key aspects. First, people must take up their responsibilities for themselves, their own families, communities and peoples. For example, we must ensure our children fully attend school, our families must commit to not buy sugary drinks to have in the fridge at home, we must make regular exercise part of our lives, and participation in language activities must become—once again—a ritual. Second, Empowerment means taking responsibility for service delivery and having control of the budget. The Empowerment stream encouraged broad participation from younger generations and Elders; men and women; traditional owners and all citizens residing in, or with any other interest in, the communities and surrounding areas of the sub-regions; and natural, cultural and organisational leaders. It has been emphasised that everyone who wants to be involved are heard in the Empowerment process, not just structural leaders. There has been a focus on developing the first iteration of sub-regional Empowerment plans which will form the basis of negotiations and agreement-making about budgets and service delivery with governments. Some sub-regional plans are more advanced than others, but all sub-regions are now in a position to begin to shift to an Empowerment model. Each plan begins to set out priorities, and ideas of participants about how service delivery can be improved, including mainstream

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


services and other service delivery. The plans will be living documents made available online, so they are open and accessible, and encourage broad ongoing participation. More focus is needed to build the responsibilities people must take up at the individual, family and community level. An early focus will be on language learning and use, as participants clearly indicated this is vitally important. For example, people may decide to establish local ancestral languages music groups or adopt protocols and commitments about how language may be used in intercultural settings (such as by adopting a practice of ancestral language openings and closings at meetings, or using language greetings and salutations in all formal correspondence). Such actions are for people in the sub-region to decide, but Empowerment planning processes can be used to facilitate decision-making and shared commitments. Regional Empowerment planning to ensure that the right enabling support is available to the sub-regions again includes the proposal for a network of community-based Hubs (the same hubs described above for Land Rights) that can help facilitate ongoing on-the-ground co-design, implementation and connecting local people to supports, including those available in the regional organisations.

BUDGET NEGOTIATION The major Empowerment focus has been to introduce changes so the budget is controlled closer to those affected by service delivery success or failure (see Figure 12). The Australian Government has agreed that: • Place-based transparency will be provided over the current allocation of funding to Cape York Peninsula and its sub-regions •T he existing level of funding in these areas will be maintained • The sub-regions will be given 75% weighting in the decision-making on expiring grants under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) and for the Community Development Programme (CDP) • The sub-regions can begin to transition service providers from external providers to ensure greater Indigenous ownership and control of the CDP where possible. Implementation in 2018 will centre on the IAS and CDP funding and services, but over time the Empowerment process will replace the current system and include all investment and services, across the full range of departments. The devolution of control of the budget must be appropriately planned, including to ensure that Indigenous capabilities are developed. Given the short timeframes until some current IAS contracts, and the CDP contracts expire on 30 June 2018, some short extensions of existing contracts may be required to put in place the co-purchasing/panel arrangements for the 75% decision-making at the local level, and for CDP to allow time to build local Indigenous offerings or joint ventures.

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Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Beyond CDP, there are other opportunities to negotiate better control over the existing government service delivery by moving to Indigenous and local organisations as the service providers. These include the rollout of the NDIS, health and education services. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that a concurrent expansion of the market economy occurs, or increased control of the existing service delivery industry will simply mean that Indigenous organisations become service providers within a passive welfare system. This will not provide the fundamental change that is required for broader uplift. The aim must be to increase control whilst reducing the industry down to its core essentials.

NEXT STEPS FOR EMPOWERMENT 1. Services are increasingly decided and/or delivered by local Indigenous people and organisations with agreed joint decision-making and co-purchasing arrangements between government and sub-regions, starting with Commonwealth IAS funding, and CDP. 2. Take ownership of CDP with an agreed staged handover plan, so that Cape York Indigenous organisations become the co-purchasers and primary providers of CDP in Cape York. 3. Further development of sub-region Empowerment Plans so priorities are determined in the sub-region by Indigenous people. Empowerment planning will continue in the first half of 2018 to finalise the initial version of sub-regional Empowerment plans. More will be done to facilitate actions and commitments of First Nations people to take up their responsibilities for themselves, their own families and communities. 4. Community-based Hubs in each sub-region will support grassroots people and enable them to more easily access business, land and empowerment information and assistance.

3. Economic Development reforms In all modern economies wealth creation is closely tied to the ability to use, transfer and borrow against land assets. Yet for Australia’s First Nations, for two centuries the doctrine of terra nullius reigned. Australia was the last country to acknowledge the native title of its First Nations people and being re-possessed of our lands so late in history means we have been largely locked out of an extensive period of growth and wealth creation experienced in Australia more generally. We are getting our land back, and we must now make real progress on realising economic opportunities on our land. Mostly where economic activity occurs, land tenure arrangements are relatively straightforward—freehold and leasehold Crown land provides defined individual property rights and allows these rights to be freely traded in an open market. Property boundaries have usually been gazetted and ownership is clear. These arrangements establish secure individual property rights that enable economic activities such as grazing, cropping and tourism ventures, and encourage home ownership

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and private rental markets. For First Nations, however, despite our Land Rights victories, the situation is far less straightforward. Hernando de Soto’s views on the importance of liberating the “dead capital” imprisoned in informal land tenure in Third World and the former communist states are instructive. In his book The Mystery of Capital, the Peruvian development activist identified the most profound difference between the West where capitalism thrives, and those societies where the world’s poor live: the poor lack the legal infrastructure that captured transferable property rights and enabled capitalism. He wrote: “The poor do have things, but they lack the process to represent their property and create capital. They have houses but not titles; crops but not deeds; businesses but not statutes of incorporation.” De Soto observed that people in the West took what lawyers call “fungible property” for granted: It is an implicit legal infrastructure hidden deep within their property systems, of which ownership is but the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg is an intricate man-made process that can transform assets and labour into capital. The unique challenges we face can be overcome if we create what De Soto referred to as implicit legal infrastructure—if we put in place Investment Ready Tenures to catch us up to the starting line for economic development (see Figure 13). Unless Indigenous people are supported to resolve these issues they will continue to hold back aspirations and investment for land and enterprise for decades to come. Conversely, when First Nations people agree and create Investment Ready Tenures where they see fit, investment and entrepreneurial activity can readily occur and individual interests in land can be created without the current uncertainty, complexity, conflict and extra-ordinary transaction. Such reforms must be led by Indigenous peoples themselves or change will be perceived to be a threat, and as undermining our hard-won Land Rights. The Economic Development stream has involved sub-regions identifying existing aspirations and opportunities for economic development. In some cases, sub-regional Economic Development plans have been initiated, and the Lockhart sub-region has completed its first iteration which provides an example. Work has also occurred to develop a regional Economic Development plan to ensure that the right enabling support is available to the sub-regions—creating islands of economic development in a sea of welfare dependence will always be very difficult, if not impossible, so a strategy for the region as a whole is essential.

INVESTMENT READY TENURES The major Economic Development focus has been on the need to create Investment Ready Tenures to enable entrepreneurial activity and investment. Potential steps to Investment Ready Tenure have been identified as including, for example:

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


•S implification of existing tenures (including DOGIT, LHA lease, Aboriginal reserve, State reserve and USL) to Aboriginal freehold to provide a greater level of understanding and certainty, and increased development options, through the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld). • Where two organisations are involved in holding and managing different sets of rights and interest in the same piece of land, development can be assisted by both sets of rights and interests in the land being held and managed by one Indigenous organisation. • Rather than deal with every future act on a case by case basis, native title holders can agree to simplified, fair and reasonable processes to facilitate development via an Alternative Procedure ILUA. For example, One Claim is seeking to determine native title across unclaimed areas and simplify consent processes by identifying who speaks for where so that much quicker, cheaper and easier Body Corporate ILUAs will then be possible. Town ILUAs are being negotiated to provide simplified processes and formulaic compensation for native title consent for development. •C ultural heritage and environmental clearances are obtained. FIGURE 13 INVESTMENT READY TENURES GET US TO THE STARTING LINE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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NEXT STEPS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 1. Establish Investment Ready Tenure in each sub-region, ensuring tenure is widely ready for future economic investment (i.e. private and/or commercial investment). A small task-force will commence working with grassroots traditional owners and their landholding organisations to create Investment Ready Tenures in the sub-regions targeted at best prospective development opportunities. 2. Further development of sub-region Economic Development plans will continue in the first half of 2018 and each sub-region in addition to Lockhart River will develop the initial iteration of its sub-regional plan. This will include ongoing capability building about the legal, administrative and technical complexities, the different options that are available, and their likely impact on development of the people and places concerned. This planning will identify priority areas for the creation of Investment Ready Tenures. 3. Validate identified Economic Development opportunities and begin implementation of early priorities identified by sub-regions.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


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Structural Reforms We want to sit at the table and directly negotiate with government to agree the budgets supporting our sub-regional plans. Councils will continue to play the role of local government. The Cape York regional organisations will play a supporting and an enabling role.

The state and federal governments will play a partnership role with us.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


We have a wealth of opportunities in our communities for economic development, and we will work together to pursue what is unique in each subregion and what is common across Cape York. We will focus on creating jobs for our people in community. We will focus on what is financially sustainable. Agreed aspirations of Cape York First Nations people at the Palm Cove Summit, December 2017

Part 3 Structural Reforms


The large-scale transformation to an empowerment approach will take time to achieve and will advance through stages that build on each other—it is not a single event. As agreed by both the QPC and Empowered Communities, such a change cannot be achieved without institutionalising the major changes. Part 3 sets out the structural reforms needed, including those that are principally for Empowerment: Legislation, Partnership Tables, Pooled Funding, and a Productivity Dividend; and those that are principally for Land Rights and Economic Development: Development Zones and Projects of Indigenous Development Significance. In addition, we propose a procedural Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), be agreed to commit all of the parties to Pama Futures going forward.

The need for legislation Australian governments should enact legislation to ensure that the shift to empowerment occurs. The history of major reforms in Australia, shows that when deep and lasting transformations are required, legislation is vital to embed and steer the reform agenda, and ensure that it takes precedence for all parties, across the whole administrative and bureaucratic system, and beyond the life of the initiating government. The Queensland Government is urged to introduce a First Nations Empowerment and Closing the Gap Partnership Bill 2018 to establish the proposed reform framework. Such legislation would foremost be practical, but also symbolic, signalling in the strongest terms the historic shift finally being made. The overarching goal of Closing the Gap on Indigenous disparity should be the purpose of the new legislation. Currently only governments are accountable for the ongoing failures to Close the Gap, but a shift to empowerment means that this truly becomes a shared responsibility for failure and success. The Act will clarify roles and responsibilities in this respect, for example, by giving a clear commitment from the state to provide meaningful and timely data at a place-based level to inform Indigenous people as they drive change, monitor progress, and adapt and learn (see Part 5 for further details). The Act would formally adopt an empowerment approach to Indigenous affairs, would define empowerment and set out the principles underpinning the new partnership between government and First Nations including the devolution of power and responsibility according to the principle of subsidiarity, and the importance of enablement on the government side. A chapter of the legislation would set out the other key structural mechanisms proposed for empowerment and the delivery of this agenda, including the elements of a new Regional Partnership Authority which include Partnership Tables (Part 3), a Regional Partnership Board and Partnership Delivery Unit (Part 5), as well as Pooled Funds (Part 3) and a Productivity Dividend (Part 3). In keeping with the empowerment approach, but also recognising that welfare dependency is a challenge that must be addressed by our people, the Act should also include a chapter setting out provisions to Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


permanently establish a streamlined Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC)—one that can be ‘switched on’ when First Nations people in a sub-region seek to have Conditional Income Management available as a mechanism to help those who need it the most, to ensure there is food on the table for children and that other basic financial responsibilities of the household are met. There is no doubt that Conditional Income Management can help prevent the foreclosing of the opportunity for development and choice that too often occurs for First Nations children as a result of cognitive and other early development issues as a result of alcohol, including because of FASD.22 (See further in Part 4). The Act needs to be developed in close partnership between government and First Nations representatives.

22. Recent

evidence reveals astonishing rates of cognitive impairment and impact of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder on Indigenous young people, clearly contributing to negative outcomes later in life such as incarceration. Similarly, in Cape York there is evidence of very high levels of serious cognitive impairment likely to be related to alcohol misuse. 23. See

QPC 2017 Draft Report, p. xxvii.

NEXT STEPS 1. D esign a First Nations Empowerment and Closing the Gap Partnership Bill in a process involving government and Cape York representatives. 2. Queensland Parliament enacts agreed Bill.

Partnership Tables and Agreements Under Pama Futures it is proposed that a network of Partnership Tables be established to provide the core partnership structure/ interface between First Nations people and governments, as recommended by the Empowered Communities Design Report and the QPC Draft Report. The Partnership Table is a vital mechanism to empower the grassroots. This puts the First Nations in a position to steer the priorities for development, rather than responding to siloed government-led consultations, one issue at a time.23 A range of matters may be agreed at the Partnership Table, including the way in which mainstream services will be provided, and the outcomes expected to be achieved. The QPC states agreements made at the Partnership Table should specify: • Principles—these might include the way in which the agreement will operate and the manner in which the parties will interact • Roles—what role each party will play in future interactions and what decision-making powers and authority each will have • Objectives–the purpose of the agreement • Outcomes—these should specify the agreed changes that are to be achieved under the agreement, without specifying how they will be achieved • Timelines—when the various stages of the agreement will be implemented and when outcomes are expected to be achieved • Resourcing—what funding will be made available to support the agreement • Incentives—these might include payments for the achievement of outcomes or agreements to move to a subsequent stage of reform after certain milestones are reached Part 3 Structural Reforms


• Duration of the agreement and methods for amending the agreement.24 Partnership Tables are jointly ‘owned’ by First Nations people of the sub-region and governments. It is not a government convened and coordinated mechanism—although it is obviously dependent on government cooperation, participation and enabling support. Both parties own the process and both are responsible for making it work. It is a partnership. Local government councils will join with the state and federal governments as parties to the Partnership Table. The sub-region decides who will represent them at the grassroots Partnership Table to negotiate with government. In the first instance it is likely that six sub-regional representatives would be selected as the principal negotiators: two each for Land Rights, Empowerment and Economic Development. Service providers, regional organisations or other experts (such as legal advisors, or corporates) can be invited by the sub-region to attend and participate in the Partnership Table. Such partners would provide advice and input but would not have any decision-making status (see Figure 14). At the December Summit, a Partnership Table was role-played so that people could observe community representatives negotiating with the three levels of government. Each community and sub-region across Cape York has expressed enthusiasm for the Partnership Tables. FIGURE 14 EACH SUB-REGION WILL CONVENE A GRASSROOTS PARTNERSHIP TABLE




Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


NEXT STEPS 1. Design and establish Partnership Tables.

Pooled Funds

24. QPC

2017 Draft Report, p. xxxi

25. QPC

2017 Draft Report, at p. xxvi

26. QPC

2017 Draft Report, at p. xxv

27. QPC

2017 Draft Report, at p. xxv


QPC 2017 Draft Report, at p. 102.

The QPC and Empowered Communities both recommend that structural reforms to funding and resourcing include Pooled Funding mechanisms. Pooled Funding provides a mechanism for decisions about resource trade-offs between alternative uses to be made at the local level so that resources are directed to highest value uses. They better support holistic place-based approaches as resources and program design are not constrained within agency ‘silos’ and both state and federal funding can be allocated in a more integrated way. Pooling funds enables flexibility and promotes more long-term investments in skills and infrastructure, for example.25 The QPC’s recommendation is that the delivery of mainstream services would be negotiated with communities via agreement-making with government at Partnership Tables, but that existing grant funding could be pooled and provided for a longer time, to reduce uncertainty and promote better outcomes.26 Over time, as success is demonstrated, even mainstream service funding may also be transferred to the funding pool.27 Minister Scullion has effectively started to create a pooled funding mechanism by beginning to devolve 75% responsibility for decision-making for expiring grants under the IAS and allowing this local decision-making to reallocate the money to a different purpose where necessary, and also through his commitment to transition CDP to local Indigenous organisations wherever possible. This cuts out the middle-men and starts to build toward a Productivity Dividend (see below). The transition of other service delivery funding into the pool will need to be staged so that capacity can be developed within government and on the ground. Appropriate accountability and reporting frameworks must be put in place so that all parties can be held to account for the decisions made and the outcomes achieved. This must be done in a way that allows learning to occur and that encourages adaptive practice.

NEXT STEPS 1. Design how a Pooled Funding mechanism will work.

Productivity Dividend While there will be transitional costs, the structural mechanisms proposed aim to institutionalise the changes to roles and responsibilities, rather than create further layers of new architecture that demands new expenditure.28 Once implemented the reforms should result in a

Part 3 Structural Reforms


simplification of Indigenous affairs and a reduction in bureaucracy. The current problem is captured in the Torres Strait Island Regional Council’s (TSIRC) submission to the QPC inquiry: Currently DATSIP have a formal role within government to lead engagement into the TSIRC region. However, we can capably engage direct with departments on project-delivery in our region. The current arrangement produces yet another layer of bureaucracy and time lag. Funds can be better spent by directly funding TSIRC to resource this work. It would be best to simply engage directly and fund us adequately to support this work. (sub. 12, p. 31) Under Pama Futures, every sub-region across Cape York will be able to make the same claim as TSIRC regarding the benefits of providing funding more directly. By shifting to a demand-driven, more direct funding model, middle-men in the bureaucratic maze can be removed to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Better budget decisions over time will produce savings within existing levels of funding, which can be reinvested in the development of the sub-region. Efficiency is incentivised as sub-regions retain control of savings in the Pooled Fund. In this way funding reforms to locate decision-making and accountability closer to those affected by service delivery success or failure, can also deliver a Productivity Dividend that can ultimately be reinvested in a sub-region’s development priorities. Figure 15 shows Cape York Institute’s framework for producing a Productivity Dividend to increase the funding available on the frontline to individuals and families. FIGURE 15 PRODUCTIVITY DIVIDEND FRAMEWORK

Source: Cape York Institute, 2017. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


1. With a commitment to place-based funding transparency and decision-making, the quantum of spending in a place stabilises (excluding CPI). 2. ‘Middle-men’ will be removed from the system, duplication of services will reduce, and inefficient or ineffective services will improve. Efficiencies from increasingly adopting a direct funding model will produce savings. 3. Savings can be reinvested in the place. 4. There will be a commensurate increase in ‘funding the front line’, closest to families and individuals. 5. A 5-10-year approach will yield an increasing productivity dividend.

29. Koowarta

v State of Queensland [2014] FCA 627

NEXT STEPS 1. Establish the Productivity Dividend framework to support the new partnership between First Nations people and government.

Development Zones and Projects of Indigenous Development Significance NO FAIR DEALS HAVE BEEN STRUCK First Nations have been re-possessed of their land not only very late in history, but also at the very time that environmental concerns are front-of-mind. We were dispossessed of our land over generations when many Australian families and towns exploited land to build the foundations of their wealth today. In remote regions such as Cape York, where disadvantage is most extreme, but where natural values of land remain relatively intact—First Nations are now repeatedly and unfairly expected to shoulder the burden of the nation’s environmental responsibility, including to meet international commitments made under the Kyoto protocol—at the cost of our Right to Development and ability to close the gap. Just as we are getting our Land Rights back, our property rights are being stripped away without even the chance for us to assess and plan across the landscape for a balance of development and environmental outcomes. Our Land Rights have been besieged by those who want to impose environmental and conservation protections without our consent and without any compensation. The Wild Rivers declarations made by Premier Anna Bligh’s Queensland Government provide an example. Martha Koowarta and other traditional owners from Cape York were ultimately victorious against the Queensland Government and the Wild Rivers declarations on the Archer, Stewart and Lockhart rivers were rescinded by the Federal Court in 2014.29 This victory vindicates the principle that governments, industry and environmental groups cannot ignore and override the wishes of traditional owners, who should not have to spend years of their lives in court, fighting to have their basic legal rights respected. Part 3 Structural Reforms


Not only has it been expected that we would gift property rights vested in our land so that environmental values can be resumed for nothing in the name of the public good, but governments have also expected that we should shoulder the liability of managing those environmental values, without providing fair resourcing to support conservation and land management. Economic use of Aboriginal land in Cape York is almost entirely limited to a small number of environment-focused ranger jobs, funded through uncertain and short-term government grants. Land is our only asset, and it has only recently been re-acquired. We cannot be expected to give away the future opportunity for our children to live without inequality. Government must strike a fair deal with Indigenous landowners. It is vital that Cape York’s economy, as with all other economies, does not depend on a single or small number of economic activities. Diversified outcomes should include properly-resourced environmental and conservation outcomes, but also where appropriate agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, tourism, and mining.

WE WANT SKIN IN THE GAME Far too often, economic development is seen as something that happens to Indigenous people or land—benefits that flow to our people are in the form of passive royalty payments. Agreements to provide Indigenous people with real skin in the game and commercial incentives, such as through shareholding, joint venture or other participatory arrangements, are very rare. Too often we have been denied the opportunity to be the active proponents in economic development on our own land. In terms of mining, for example, it is absurd that Cape York’s First Nations people have not been able to capitalise on the mining opportunities on their doorstep to build wealth and jobs. The lost opportunities for our development of the RA315 mining lease for Aurukun bauxite mining, and the Wongai coal coking mine at Bathurst Heads, carry serious consequences that have a direct and ongoing impact on the lives of local people and children. AURUKUN BAUXITE

For the people of Aurukun, who are one of the country’s most disadvantaged populations, to be denied the opportunity to be an active proponent in the development of RA315—is manifestly unjust. The history of the development of the enormous fields of bauxite in western Cape York has been one of social and cultural trauma to the Wik people, wreaked in the shadow of vast wealth production since the 1950s. In terms of RA315, in 1975 the Queensland Government legislated to grant vast swathes of land, this time parts of the Aurukun Aboriginal Reserve to a French aluminium company, Pechiney. As with previous miners, the people of Aurukun were ignored as their land was given away.30 After 30 years of the mining leaseholder failing to develop the mine, in 2004 then Queensland Premier Peter Beattie compulsorily took the lease back. His intention was the Wik people would benefit as much as the people of Queensland when the lease was offered to new Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


developers under a tender process. Indeed, local leaders have continued to see RA315 as an opportunity to turn the situation in their community around, and to truly support the economic viability of Aurukun. In 2008, Aurukun leaders, with the agreement of the Australian and the Queensland Government, nominated the development of the bauxite resource as a ‘lighthouse’ economic development project under the Cape York Welfare Reform trial. However, in the latest tender process for RA315, then Premier Campbell Newman’s government granted the development rights to mining giant Glencore—just before it fell into a debt crisis affecting its operations globally. The government used extraordinary executive power to do as they pleased in awarding the lease to Glencore, and to disregard the bid backed by the traditional owners. Ngan Aak-Kunch Aboriginal Corporation (NAK), is the representative agent for the Wik people and registered native title body corporate. In 2015, NAK signed a joint venture with Aurukun Bauxite Development (ABD) with the sole purpose of exploring, developing and rehabilitating the RA315 deposit. This was supported by an ILUA previously signed and lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal. Other proponents, including Glencore, did not have the support of the traditional owners. The NAK – ABD joint venture would have been Australia’s first equity deal for local people and would have seen NAK hold a 15% stake in the mine and have meaningful decision-making authority in partnership with the mining entity. Figure 16 shows the real difference that a 15% equity agreement would have made in Aurukun.

Part 3 Structural Reforms

30. The

mission organised lawyers to represent the Wik elders in a challenge to the Queensland government that went all the way through to the Privy Council in London. The church’s actions raised the ire of Joh BjelkePetersen, who then moved to take over the mission from the Uniting Church and ran the community itself as a government settlement. 31. The

Queensland Government relied on special provisions to do this. In 2006 the Queensland government amended the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (‘MRA’) through the Mineral Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2006 and introduced a number of special measures only applicable to Aurukun bauxite and commonly referred to as the ‘Aurukun provisions’. Critically these provisions suspend notification and objection processes available under both the MRA and the Aboriginal Land Act 1991. Under these special measures the Newman Government was able to both unilaterally reopen the tender process for twenty-four hours to allow Glencore’s bid and further to accept this bid without any of the standard processes or protections that would otherwise be afforded to landholders.









It seems now highly unlikely that Glencore will develop the mine, although the state government has indicated Glencore will have some further five-six years to begin. In Glencore’s global empire these Aurukun bauxite fields are just a speck. For the Wik this mine represents their future, and a critical aspect of their pathway from a socioeconomic crisis of utmost urgency. It is now 14 years since Beattie tried to turn history around.32 Instead of realising Beattie’s promise the mine has not yet been developed because of poor decision-making that failed to heed the wishes of the First Nation on whose land the mine will sit. THE WONGAI MINE

The Wongai Coking Coal Project appears to be another opportunity to achieve genuine economic empowerment of First Nations, which is under threat. This proposal for an underground high quality hard coking coal mine for steel manufacture is associated with less environmental impact and risk than other Queensland mines. The proposed site is on Aboriginal freehold land owned by the Kalpowar traditional owners, who were to be joint venture partners in the mine. Again, the proposed Wongai Mine has been supported by an ILUA from 2013. To get their land back, the Kalpowar traditional owners have already agreed to the majority being subject to national park and other conservation protections, in exchange for the unencumbered Aboriginal Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


freehold area which they thought would allow them to develop. Such negotiations were underpinned by the Cape York Heads of Agreement, signed by representatives of Indigenous, conservation and pastoral sectors and the Queensland Government, which sets out to achieve balanced environmental, economic and social outcomes in Cape York via negotiations. The deal was struck in 2005 over the Kalpowar lands. At the time conservation groups33 endorsed the agreement’s balanced outcome, as an “outstanding result for conservation and Aboriginal people”, which included the creation of the Aboriginal freehold area and “a massive new 200,000 hectare national park” with further areas also covered by binding conservation agreements. Some progress was then made toward realising the opportunity for the traditional owners to develop their freehold title by becoming joint venture partners in the Wongai mine. The project was declared a ‘Significant Project’ by the Queensland Coordinator-General in 2012, although this declaration was allowed to lapse in 2015, after a change of government and despite the agreement and support of traditional owners through the formal ILUA. The Wongai opportunity for the Kalpowar people has been stymied by the imposition of a new layer of environmental protections as a result of a 2015 election commitment made by the current Queensland Government to prohibit trans-shipping operations within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Indigenous people of course share the broad concern about the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef caused by generations of impacts, however, to foreclose on this particular opportunity as a result of a blanket application of a protection is not just. For conservation groups to lobby for the resource to be locked-up despite the earlier agreement to create other extensive adjacent areas of environmental protection, and without so much as referring to the environmental concessions already made by the traditional owners or their Right to Development, is nothing short of callous. The opportunity the Kalpowar landowners have long fought for, has been unjustly taken away, just as it might have become a reality.

32. After

Beattie’s action there was a further extensive history of mining companies obtaining leases to RA315 but failing to develop the resource, largely for business reasons associated with operations of the multi-national corporations that hold the leases, and not to do with the viability of the deposit itself. 33. The

Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation, National Parks Association of Queensland, Queensland Conservation Council, and Cairns and Far North Environment Centre.

SUPPORT OUR RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT Despite needing to vigorously defend our property rights from the imposition of unfair and discriminatory environmental and conservation protections regimes, of course the First Nations do have strong conservation-oriented values. The immemorial connection of the First Nations to our land is permanent and ongoing. Of all people, First Nations should be afforded the chance to plan properly for the future across our landscapes. As the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development found: ...When Native communities take control of their assets, programs and governments they obtain higher prices for their commodities, more efficient and sustainable uses of their forests, better programs for their health care, greater profitability for their enterprises and greater return migration. Part 3 Structural Reforms


The reasons are straight-forward. The decision makers are more likely to experience the consequences of good and bad decisions. They are closer to local conditions. And they are more likely to have the community’s unique interests are heart.


See State Development Act (State Development and Public Works Organisation Act) 1971 (Qld)

We should be supported and enabled to find the right balance between environmental and developmental concerns to sustain our lands and people into the future. Such landscape planning must occur with the assistance of detailed, scientific land use assessment information available. This is how a fair deal can be struck, and the gap closed. Where land reforms and Investment Ready Tenures are put in place by traditional owners, our Right to Development should be supported. Government can do this by declaring areas to be Indigenous Development Zones or specific initiatives to be Projects of Indigenous Significance. Such declarations could help to prevent Indigenous people and lands from being left behind. Many countries have designated geographic areas, called ‘special economic zones’, ‘export-processing zones’, ‘tax and duty-free zones’ or ‘enterprise zones’ that are used to create more job opportunities, increase economic growth and encourage investment. Generally, such zones offer tax concessions, infrastructure incentives, and reduced regulations to attract investment and private companies into the zones. Currently, in Queensland major development projects are regularly declared projects of ‘State Significance’ by the Coordinator-General34 and these projects attract special treatment by regulatory authorities, including streamlined environmental compliance, and certain economic and other government support. Environmental impact assessments are still required, but state significance allows greater weight to be placed on economic growth and jobs as a positive offset. Projects of state significance typically facilitate substantial economic growth, for example, by providing major infrastructure, industry development and having a significant capital investment. Although other economic development projects are routinely assisted in such ways, there has never been an Indigenous project declared of state significance in Queensland. The only Queensland Government interventions that have received well-resourced and fasttracked bureaucratic treatment on Cape York, have been the various efforts to impose unfair environmental regulations and declarations over Indigenous land and rights. Declaring Development Zones and Projects of Indigenous Development Significance could ensure all Queenslanders benefit from the state’s economic growth, and also provide a recognition of: the dire Indigenous socioeconomic circumstances in the Cape that must change; the environmental concessions already made; and the special and permanent relationship that First Nations people have with their land. Pama Futures provides the opportunity to declare projects such as the Dreaming Track (see Part 4) to be a Project of Indigenous Development Significance.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


NEXT STEPS 1. Create Development Zones on Cape York to stimulate economic development including on Indigenous land and enable balanced development and environmental outcomes for Cape York. 2. Establish a mechanism to streamline regulatory and environmental requirements that can stifle major Indigenous economic development projects on Indigenous land by declaring them to be Projects of Indigenous Development Significance.

Procedural ILUA to set out commitment to Pama Futures It is proposed that a procedural ILUA, be agreed with government to commit all of the parties to the Pama Futures process. This would mutually agree the framework and the outcomes sought, and would be binding under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). This ILUA can help to provide First Nations people with the assurance needed that the deep and lasting transformations they want to drive forward over the long-term will be granted a firm foothold to get established, one that can outlast any particular state or federal government. The Implementation Plan at Attachment A provides the basis from which the proposed ILUA can be drafted and agreed.

NEXT STEPS 1. An ILUA to be agreed between Cape York Indigenous people and the Commonwealth and Queensland governments to commit all parties to Pama Futures for at least ten years.

Part 3 Structural Reforms



Specific Initiatives We will build the capabilities of our people, including through education, health and welfare reform. We will ensure welfare reform will enable our young people to transition to the real economy.

We will seek to create a platform that increases access for our people to opportunities and rewards people taking ownership of their education, health and/or employment. We will seek to create tools that allow our people to put together multiple jobs and tax credits to increase their Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


overall incomes and avoid incentives that discourage people from work. We will ask the Commonwealth and State Governments to fund the help and expertise we need to develop our industries and economy. Agreed aspirations of Cape York First Nations people at the Palm Cove Summit, December 2017

Part 4 Specific Initiatives


Even as a new empowerment partnership and its supporting Even as a new empowerment partnership and its supporting structural reforms are put in place, other work must be done to close the gap. Part 4 outlines specific initiatives that government and the First Nations must work together to develop further. A number are closely connected to Land Rights and Economic Development, including Open for Business, the Dreaming Track and Tribal Wealth Funds. These, together with other proposals for Opportunity Accounts, Housing reforms, Community Development Programme (CDP) reforms, and the evolution of the Family Responsibilities Commission, build the capabilities needed to break the cycle of entrenched welfare dependency.

Open for Business As we remove barriers to enterprise through the new phase of land reform, an Open for Business campaign is needed to reinforce and promote the important change, and to raise the profile of Cape York as a business and investment destination. The Open for Business campaign will need to be outward facing and inward facing. First, a Cape York Open for Business campaign will promote opportunities for external entrepreneurs and investors. Open for Business would build on the creation of Investment Ready Tenures, Development Zones and Projects of Indigenous Development Significance to bring capital and expertise from outside of Cape York. It would help to generate focus and excitement, and attract talent. The campaign would welcome businesses wanting to engage and invest in Indigenous land. It would continue to develop our competitive advantage and unique value proposition, including First Nations cultural capital and languages. The Open for Business campaign would promote Indigenous Cape York as a hospitable and accessible investment environment, and Indigenous people will make good business partners and good employees. A hostile environment could be thought to exist if there was a perception that local landowners do not welcome external business and investment, or that local landowners’ expectations of benefits were unreasonable. A core message would be that Cape York’s First Nations are committed to job creation and have removed barriers and created incentives for investment and business. Secondly, a Cape York Open for Business strategy must target First Nations people themselves. Open for Business must create an environment in which Indigenous people applaud and encourage our own workers, entrepreneurs and business people—in which people are urged to create wealth instead of being “Like crabs in a bucket – we’re all trying to grab the leg of the one that is getting up and out, and pull it back into the bucket.”35 First Nations must embrace the idea that building wealth and prosperity is our business too, and to have money in your pocket does not make you less of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, or some kind of environmental vandal. Open for Business will reinforce that First Nations can keep our culture, cherish our environment, and pursue economic development.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


A number of key initiatives could be included within the Open for Business strategy:


35. This

was a comment made by a Cape York traditional owner talking about economic development. “Crabs in a bucket” is now a well-known expression throughout the Cape used to refer to this phenomenon.1971 (Qld)

Closing the Gap on employment in Cape York is not an abstract concept—it means getting local people into existing local jobs (which are predominantly publicly funded service delivery jobs), mobility to take up job opportunities, and attracting investment to create new jobs. The creation of new jobs through enterprise and industry is a critically important strategy that can be pursued through a campaign to attract investment for a 2028 Job Target. Figure 17 shows the number of employment outcomes to close the gap entirely on employment in Cape York. Approximately 1400 employment outcomes are needed, plus more jobs will be required to account for projected population growth in working aged people. It will be very difficult, if not impossible to reach this number of employment outcomes by only focusing on indigenising existing jobs. On the other hand, attracting investment to create 1000 new jobs would see a dramatic shift occur. It is well known the creation of every new job has a multiplier effect and applying a conservative multiplier of just two (many economists would suggest a multiplier of three or four), then investment to directly create 1000 new jobs, creates at least 2000 new jobs (i.e. direct plus indirect jobs). Attracting investment to directly create 1000 new jobs would therefore be sufficient to close the existing employment gap of approximately 1400 employment outcomes needed and also for future population growth—we could close the gap on employment in Cape York by 2028. Creating new jobs means focusing on developing new industries such as through Indigenous tourism, value adding goods with secondary production, export industries such as arts and language resources, and developing new businesses that keep jobs in the Cape. It will be particularly important to have a focus on school leavers, to ensure jobs are available at this point so that young people take up opportunities rather than go down the path of welfare dependency.

Part 4 Specific Initiatives



A campaign for a 2028 Job Target to close the employment gap in Cape York will encourage and motivate people as they consider and assess opportunities for economic development and job creation. Such a campaign target is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound), and will allow monitoring, and learning as people see whether, or not, strategies achieve their stated objectives. The target also allows each community, sub-region or project to easily understand and quantify how much an opportunity can contribute to closing the employment gap.

2. ENCOURAGING MICRO-ENTERPRISE To create a future generation of successful entrepreneurs, some of whom might build international businesses one day, support should be provided to budding micro-entrepreneurs. Open for Business could encourage micro-enterprise entrepreneurs by establishing a regular business pitch ‘Croc Tank’ to operate in Cape York, like the popular Shark Tank television series, in which budding entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of investors and industry representatives to try and convince them to invest in their idea, or direct or recommend them to other potential investors and/or provide mentoring. The aim would be to encourage low-investment start-ups, such as opportunities to participate in the gig economy through pop-ups and portable businesses. Micro-enterprise could also be incentivised

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


by offering small grants ($5,000-10,000) to community members to fix a social problem. This would encourage entrepreneurship and thinking like a business, as all business is built on identifying a problem and offering a solution. Motivating people to identify community problems and solve them is perfect real-world training ground for future entrepreneurs. Cape York Institute developed the concept of My Life. My Business. as a micro-enterprise program to encourage and support individuals to have a go. My Life. My Business. will link with the Croc Tank and Hubs so that budding entrepreneurs can receive holistic support, mentoring and business services in pursuit of their enterprise idea.

3. ANCESTRAL LANGUAGE EXPERTS AND INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE TEACHERS An objective of Government policy is to “support … career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language workers”, and Pama Futures proposes that career pathways be created for Indigenous language teachers, teacher aides and preschool staff competent in their First Nations ancestral languages, and that positions be created for Ancestral Language Experts, who’s role it is to ensure that Cape York Peninsula’s linguistic assets are maintained and developed. Creating such jobs would meet the urgent need for trained teaching staff and teacher aides to deliver ancestral language lessons in primary and secondary schools, as well as preschool and day-care staff trained to support ancestral language acquisition in the early years so critical to language development. The Queensland Department of Education funds French, Japanese and other foreign language teachers in many schools, but following the release of the ACARA Framework for Teaching Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages in 2015, there is now an urgent need for trained First Nations Language teachers in Cape York schools to support our children’s right to formally study their ancestral languages at school. The establishment of a professional corps of Ancestral Language Experts in Cape York Peninsula will ensure that the acquisition and transmission of Ancestral Language expertise is increasingly valued as a qualification, and that knowledgeable cultural leadership exists to advise and develop curriculum materials, to champion language recording, revitalisation and maintenance initiatives and to support ancestral language learning at the highest possible standard. Investing in creating jobs for ancestral language teachers, teacher aides and preschool staff could result in 55 professional positions, making a substantial initial contribution to the 1000 new jobs campaign. Investing in the creation of these jobs would lead to other opportunities for leveraging, such as through publishing books, ebooks, videos, songs, and exportable language teaching products and programs for other schools and training from institutions such as Charles Darwin University. Strengthening languages also contributes strongly to Cape York Peninsula cultural branding, to cultural tourism futures, and opportunities such as this that reinforce other businesses competitive advantages should be a priority.

Part 4 Specific Initiatives


A professional corp of people with long-term commitment to a language nation should be engaged to play a central role in language maintenance and revitalisation employed as ‘Ancestral Language Experts’. It is proposed that through CDP reforms below, CDP payments could be used as wage subsidies over the long term for these positions that would play a vital role in community cultural development.

4. EXPLICIT INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND GIRLS Campaigns and approaches that work for men do not always work for women. Creating business and employment campaigns targeting women encourages them to feel included and to put themselves forward. All the development literature points to the genuine contribution to achieving economic outcomes that results from actively targeting and engaging with women and girls, and in Cape York we need a specific strategy around this. This might extend beyond the Cape, and link to Australian Business Women and other organisations to engage them with female entrepreneurs in Cape York. There are real opportunities that First Nations women in Cape York may want to take up outside of existing mining, construction and grazing industries that tend to be very heavily male dominated. For example, the development of beauty products using natural products and oils may provide an opportunity for Cape York women to create a distinctive Cape York brand and to collect or cultivate the botanicals required. Language professional pathways also offer obvious career opportunities as well as significant pathways into tertiary studies for women and girls.

NEXT STEPS 1. Develop an Open for Business campaign with initiatives including the campaign for a 2028 Job Target to close the gap on employment. 2. Develop My Life. My Business. as a micro-enterprise support to enable low-investment start-ups and social-enterprise, connected to a Croc Tank investment pitching venue for entrepreneurs. 3. Develop a strategy to create new jobs for Indigenous language teachers and Ancestral Language Experts, and to explicitly include women and girls.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Dreaming Track The Dreaming Track proposes up to 2000-kilometres of track up the east coast of Cape York Peninsula—from near Mossman Gorge to the tip of Cape York. The Dreaming Track will create a world-class tourism attraction and brand for Indigenous Cape York, owned and run by First Nations. The track would highlight natural, cultural and historical aspects of the landscape along the route. It will cross Indigenous land owned and managed by a significant number of different clan groups and First Nations. Tropical North Queensland is a popular tourist destination, and First Nations have a clear competitive advantage. There is international and domestic tourist demand for authentic Indigenous experiences. Despite the demand, there remain few such opportunities on Cape York, so actual participation in cultural tourism is low. The Cape has the potential to compete with places such as Kakadu and the Kimberley in offering Indigenous and nature-based experiences. The Dreaming Track will provide an important opportunity to promote and share authentic cultural experiences and engagement with First Nations, and at the same time create jobs, and opportunities for major and micro-businesses, and spin-off developments in land management, tourism and hospitality. Direct opportunities include guiding track users, and providing accommodation, secure parking, transfers to the trail, and equipment hire. Other consequential economic, social and cultural impacts will flow from establishing the Dreaming Track as an exciting brand in the global market. As well as attracting a new client base to undertake the track itself, the Dreaming Track can capture the large existing selfdrive market in the Cape, including through adjacent business and enterprise opportunities along the route. Now is a critical time for the Dreaming Track to gain momentum, as access through Cape York will vastly improve with the progressive sealing of the Peninsula Development Road currently underway. Stage one of the Dreaming Track was officially launched in December 2014, comprising a 23.5 kilometre stretch of grade five walking track from Cooktown to Elim Beach. The track was constructed by the Gamaay people—who continue to manage and maintain it (see Figure 18). While staged opening is pragmatic, the Dreaming Track must be backed by a substantial government partnership, including marketing and promotion to establish a powerful and iconic anchor brand for Queensland. There are lessons to be learnt from recently opened long walk tracks such as Tasmania’s Three Capes Track, one of the largest nature tourism projects in Australian history, Kangaroo Island’s Wilderness Trail and the Wukalina track around the Bay of Fires in Tasmania. The Dreaming Track would be an ideal candidate to be declared Queensland’s first Project of Indigenous Development Significance.

Part 4 Specific Initiatives



It is proposed that two further Dreaming Track pilots be developed, ready to commence operation for the tourism season in May 2019. The evaluation of these pilots will allow learnings to be included in the plans for further expansion of the Dreaming Track.

NEXT STEPS 1. Develop the Dreaming Track as the first Project of Indigenous Development Significance.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Tribal Wealth Funds To close the gap, Cape York’s First Nations must build tribal wealth through controlling or having significant beneficial interest in economic development on Indigenous land. Once acquired, tribal wealth must then be safeguarded and managed for the long-term sustainability and benefit of the First Nations. In Australia, payments may be made to traditional owners and local communities for access to the land and the impact of mining operations on their land. Indigenous tribal wealth exists in the form of trust funds that have been established all over Australia for such royalty payments. It is estimated there is currently $15-17 billion dollars of royalty payments held in such trust funds for First Nations people. There is little sign that these funds are currently being used effectively to help alleviate the extreme disadvantage that many of the intended beneficiaries are experiencing. Many of these funds are poorly managed,36 indeed some trust structures lack transparency and appropriate prudential controls. Nor is it clear that the benefit of these payments is being appropriately shared between current and future generations. Traditional owners need to carefully consider how this money is invested and spent as many payments are finite in nature: they may be one-off or time-limited, often with little prospect of any further such payment into the future. Tribal wealth funds need to play a far greater part in promoting financial autonomy and overcoming Indigenous poverty in a sustainable way. These funds can make a real contribution to positive economic and social outcomes when:

36. For

example, there are ongoing legal proceedings underway regarding the mismanagement of the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust. See McClymont A & K Wild, 2015 A matter of trust: what happened to $34 million from Aboriginal fund on Groote Eylandt, 6 November, ABC News.phenomenon.1971 (Qld)

• E ffective governance structures that are accountable, transparent and culturally-responsive are put in place • Clear and agreed fund objectives are negotiated • Sound investment processes are established •S ound and transparent management of distributions is established, including support for sustainable long-term development outcomes. Reforms are needed to create tribal wealth funds that are well managed and to ensure they can be used effectively to support development outcomes and generate more wealth for future generations. Investments that lift current generations out of poverty, generate income and wealth, and provide lasting health and education outcomes have a positive impact on future generations. Capital also needs to be preserved for future generations, so that they too can benefit.

Part 4 Specific Initiatives


Sovereign wealth funds, such as Australia’s Future Fund, are stateowned investment funds typically created when governments have budgetary surpluses that provide useful examples for tribal wealth funds. They face similar issues to Indigenous funds: • Investment strategies that account for inter-generational equity • Allocation of income to current versus future consumption • Utilisation of income generated by capital funds • and often, the finite nature of natural resource and endowments that generate income. Careful consideration needs to be given to the risk profile of the investment portfolio. Riskier investments may reward investors with higher short-term returns but carry a higher likelihood and impact of a significant loss. This issue is particularly important for tribal wealth funds that may consider investment opportunities in new Indigenous business ventures as the risk of failure in most start up business is very high. The Maori of New Zealand have had great success in creating and growing their tribal wealth. Maori have been particularly successful in striking agreements that give their people real commercial incentives (rather than passive royalties). Maori have been able to capitalise on their rights to generate tribal wealth through commercial fishing assets. Through careful investments and business management, Maori now control an estimated 40% of the New Zealand seafood industry, including processing and aquaculture operations. There are examples of local Maori creatively using annual distributions from tribal wealth funds. This is the case with the Maori Whai Rawa savings scheme, an opt in scheme of the Ngai Tahu tribe established to create sustained savings habits for achieving wealth. The savings scheme is a hybrid between a superannuation scheme and a unit trust. It provides a flexible savings vehicle for retirement, home ownership or tertiary education. Distributions supports the savings scheme by providing matched savings, annual distributions, newborn distributions as well as meeting most of the administration costs. There are important conversations to be had in Cape York about whether funds, such as the Western Cape Communities Trust (the Western Cape Trust) established to administer, invest and allocate funds from Rio Tinto Alcan under the Comalco ILUA are being managed to ensure they make a real difference for the people of Western Cape York now and into the future. Of course, reforms can only occur with the full informed consent of the relevant First Nations people. Tribal wealth funds should be co-designed to ensure the First Nations have the expertise and advice that is needed for reforms that can benefit current and future generations.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council



NEXT STEPS 1. Co-design and implement a model for tribal wealth funds that enable First Nations to decide whether to migrate their funds into such a facility.

Opportunity Account Since Cape York Institute’s Hand Out to Hand Up and commencement of the Cape York Welfare Reform trial in 2008 we have not wavered in the fight against entrenched passive welfare. Our focus has been on the four welfare reform communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge. We have had successes and learned valuable lessons about what works and improvements that can be made. Too often welfare reform has been seen as punitive rather than a means to ensure more equal opportunity for all. The array of perverse incentives, or disincentives, in the welfare system has worked against our success, particularly in terms of a failure to prevent young people entering the welfare system, and successfully transitioning people from welfare to work. One particular problem is the lengthy wait time (6-8 weeks) for people to get back on welfare/ CDP if, for example, seasonal employment ends. Individuals and parents need certainty of income, and at the moment it is not possible to seamlessly transition between welfare to work for a period, and back to welfare when needed. Nor do incentives always encourage people to take up part time employment where it is available, as by doing so they may be worse off. These perverse incentives seriously discourage people from accessing a range of real employment opportunities when they are available.

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We need this to change as Pama Futures opens up enterprise and industry development opportunities that create jobs and business, across the Cape. It is crucial that as new opportunities emerge they are not wasted because people are not incentivised to escape the pull of welfare and the comfort of being like everyone else around them. We need to think more innovatively about how to transition people from welfare to work, and importantly to stop them from entering a welfare-only regime in the first place. What would attract people to make the transition out of welfare, or to avoid it altogether? What support would be most useful? We need to enable people to feel empowered to manage that transition themselves, rather than feel they are being managed by government or others.

A PATHWAY TO SELF-RELIANCE We are proposing the creation of an Opportunity Account, largely managed by welfare recipients themselves, as a pathway for individuals and families to move from welfare to self-reliance. The Opportunity Account would provide a mechanism for those on welfare, or those about to enter the welfare system (e.g. school leavers) to choose to opt out of, or not enter, a welfare-only system. Participation would be voluntary, to enable people to control their own destiny, even if they are already connected to the welfare system. This would lessen the stigma associated with welfare and ignite the spark for change. A person could contract with government for an Opportunity Account, and step onto a pathway outside the traditional welfare system, where a mix of agreed obligations and rewards act as a powerful tool to change behaviours and incentivise opportunities to be taken up such as temporary work, getting their kids to school, and to participate in health initiatives. The Opportunity Account would engage users through a mobile application, with a phone made available to all participants (see Figure 20). The App would link to a participant’s bank account, and provide a common delivery platform for two complementary and linked functions: 1. An incentive system with the ability to ‘nudge’ and reward good behaviours to improve outcomes and unlock opportunities, is balanced by the participant’s commitment to earn these rewards. (Expert advice from behavioural economists will be required to get this balance right). 2. A payment system which allows for real-time tracking of all payments made to the participant in the form of CDP payments, wages or Tribal Wealth Fund disbursements. This payments system could be used to help ensure seamless transitions occur between short-term paid employment and CDP. It could also be used to enable a participant to take their CDP payments as credits to employers to use as wage subsidies. The payment system would also allow a participant to set up regular savings, or to pre-commit to controls on their own spending.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council



The App would be highly interactive and would have gamification features, and social media linkages to help promote its adoption, and ongoing participation. It would send tailor-made SMS and other notifications to users, for example, on their spending or saving habits, telling them how much they are spending on a day-to-day basis and/or comparing it to past days or similar people. Notifications would provide a combination of positive reinforcement and messages of loss aversion and comparing activity to others. The idea is to encourage participants to make small, regular decisions that will result in long-term change. The mobile phone and App is likely to be particularly attractive to 16-25 year-olds and the technology would encourage its take up in this key age group. The likelihood is jobs will be scarce and young people would ordinarily seek to enter the welfare system. Instead they could take up the Opportunity Account: • This would mean a clear, structured system of support could be tailored specifically to them—in the community or through a work opportunity elsewhere—to build capabilities through real work experience and training. • Time on CDP would seamlessly transition with time on job placements, with no wait period if seasonal work finished for a period. • They would enter and continue along the opportunity pathway, e.g. earning credits toward opportunities by meeting work obligations (such as attend every day, take direction and put in effort).

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• They could progress along the pathway from pre-work experience, to entry level work placement, to mainstream and local employment in real jobs. • By progressing from one work level to the next, they are rewarded with incentives created to encourage them to move further along the pathway, e.g. milestone payments, additional mentoring support, some new work equipment, tax credits, or visits from family members. • Milestone payments/incentives need not be in cash but could be in other forms that encourage social and cultural engagement • The incentives would be targeted to critical timing points when individuals are most likely to leave employment. • Case management could be provided with a focus on gaining family and partner buy-in at initial stages. These features would be included in the participant’s opportunity pathway contract, linked to the Opportunity Account and managed by the participant via the mobile phone and App. Over time the App would continue to expand access to a greater number of service support offerings on the one hand, and behavioural nudges and incentives on the other. When fully operational external groups could access the platform to drive social change, for example Social Impact Bonds could incorporate their own activities and incentives. Third party organisations would be welcome to participate and provide incentives and opportunities linked to the App, for example, Google, airlines and banks. Existing offerings in the form of programs could form an integrated offering through the Opportunity Account (e.g. Youth Mobility Program, Student Education Trust accounts). In the long-term we envisage Opportunity Accounts supporting a wide range of welfare recipients, including assisting those with addictions and disabilities to move into some form of work, or for parents to be incentivised to send their kids to school, take them to the health clinic at appropriate times, or meet tenancy obligations. The Opportunity Account would generate data that will help us understand the interventions and incentives that have the strongest success in leading to positive behaviour change, and will build capabilities that will ultimately close the gap.

NEXT STEPS 1. Further development and detailed user engagement and design work to progress the Opportunity Account. 2. In partnership with App developers we propose building a Minimum Viable Product to test in three willing sub-regions in 2018-19. The tests would be designed to show measurable impact in one or two key outcomes, linked to employment and CDP (more complex behavioural nudges could be developed later and utilise the underlying platform). Details are to be provided to the Australian Government by way of a separate proposal.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Community Development Programme reforms Creating momentum to shift people to build capabilities and take up opportunities is a big part of the solution needed to overcome decades of passive welfare. The Opportunity Account can make a substantial contribution but CDP reforms must also more effectively transition people from passive welfare dependency and engage people in work— that is, in activities that accomplish or produce something, whether through employment in a job or otherwise. Helping to close the gap on employment is a critical aspect of a successful CDP model, but work outcomes more broadly outside of formal employment, are also critical.

CDP MUST SUPPORT CLOSING THE GAP ON EMPLOYMENT To Close the Gap on employment in Cape York, we must: 1. Place local people in existing local jobs 2. Increase mobility so that people can take up opportunities elsewhere 3. Stimulate economic growth, including through developing Indigenous controlled and materially influenced industries 4. Build human capital and capabilities. CDP must support Pama Futures to improve outcomes in each of these areas. Changes certainly must be introduced to encourage people to be able to be agile in taking up temporary, seasonal or part-time job opportunities when they are available, and to ensure transitions to and from such work and CDP are seamless. A more comprehensive and systematic effort is needed to indigenise local jobs. Every local job should be assessed to determine if a CDP worker can ‘shadow’ the person in the role, working alongside them to perform parts of the role for all or part of the jobseeker’s required 25 hours of activity each week. As almost all jobs are government funded, all local jobs should contain contractual provisions that require non-locals holding the role to transfer skills and knowledge to a local person whenever a suitable CDP worker can be found. The existing CDP model fails entirely to support mobility for jobs, and this must be rectified. In particular, it is crucial to get young people from remote communities pursuing job opportunities when they are available elsewhere. Such opportunities might include entry-level jobs on the harvest trial or meat processing industry, which have been used to successfully change trajectories from welfare to work in the past. Work mobility must be an explicit goal of CDP and encouraged through travel and accommodation support as necessary. Cape York Partnership developed a comprehensive mobility strategy in 2012 called WON (Work Opportunity Network), which was not supported at the time because

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the Remote Jobs for Communities Programme was rolled out as a one-size-fits-all national program that did not include a work mobility component. WON needs to be refreshed and its strategies implemented. The existing CDP model does nothing to encourage economic development in remote areas. As Pama Futures will usher in an unprecedented focus on unlocking economic opportunity, it will be critical that reforms to CDP ensure new opportunities are taken up.

CDP MUST CONTRIBUTE TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES CDP must cater for all our people on welfare, including those who are: 1. Work ready but unemployed due to a lack of opportunities 2. Not work ready but have the capacity to become so 3. Far from work-ready 4. Disabled or have similar valid reasons for depending on government support.

The reality is there are those in our communities who may never be able to engage in employment. Nonetheless CDP must help to ensure that this group is transitional in the sense that the norm of passive welfare must change, and over time the size of this cohort must decrease so that passive welfare is not the destination of their children and grandchildren. Minister Scullion’s commitment to transition CDP from external providers to local Indigenous organisations provides the opportunity to improve the community development contribution that CDP activities can make. Empowerment planning can be used to help identify from the ground-up valuable and meaningful community projects for CDP workers, rather than having external providers identify what such work should entail. Such decisions will need to be carefully made, to ensure that CDP does not fall back to the problem of the old CDEP, which crowded out opportunities for real jobs. However, there is a range of meaningful work that can be done in the community that is meaningful and can improve community development. For example, CDP workers could be tasked by the community to do basic community infrastructure projects, such building walking/ riding tracks or footpaths with exercise stations around the communities which people can use to keep healthy and active. CDP workers could also be used on country to construct the Dreaming Track as the opportunity arises, and the existing Pride of Place program could be redesigned to allow CDP workers to provide labour and expand its availability beyond the four welfare reform communities. Under Pama Futures reforms to CDP should allow more flexible use of CDP funds to subsidise wages for community members appointed into key community development roles. For example, the proposal for local Ancestral Language Experts depends on such a change. These positions across the Cape will be for people who have a strong commitment to their ancestral language and a track record in this area. It is proposed Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


they be employed fulltime, using CDP funding as a wages subsidy for the entire period of the funding contract for CDP. It is proposed that the CDP wage subsidy be used to leverage other sources of support to ‘top-up’ the wages of the Ancestral Language Experts for the duration of their contract, as these positions would be paid at a rate significantly higher than welfare payments. Ancestral Language Experts would have clear responsibilities and accountabilities to drive local ancestral language projects, with support from the Pama Language Centre. The Language Expert would play a key role in encouraging regular language-only talking opportunities and events, singing, performance, writing and telling of stories, and recording and sharing of language content on YouTube and other social media. The Language Expert may also work to put in place local protocols and conventions about ancestral language use, such as in relation to place names, signage, for meetings and correspondence.

NEXT STEPS 1. Design and implement CDP reforms that ensure that people are encouraged rather than disincentivised to take up work opportunities whenever they become available (i.e. seamless transition from welfare to and from temporary employment), to introduce mobility support, and the ability to use CDP funds more flexibly to subsidises wages of key community development positions such as Ancestral Language Experts.

Housing The family home has a central role—it is a key to building a better life for children, being able to pass down happy memories, good health, wealth and all else that is required for a family to set up future generations for success in the modern world. Adequate and stable housing plays a major role in health and wellbeing, particularly for children, by providing a safe environment, security that allows participation in the social, educational, economic, and community aspects of life, and the privacy to foster autonomy. Home ownership in particular can have a profound impact on the trajectory of families living in poverty. It provides a key pathway to wealth creation and the family home is usually the key asset that allows for the intergenerational transfer of financial wealth. It is associated with increased wellbeing, life satisfaction and self-efficacy, more positive expectations for the future, reduced depression and alcohol abuse, and increased educational attainment. Home owners are more likely to volunteer, and to be active and engaged citizens. Despite the importance of housing for social and economic development, First Nations communities remain locked in a housing system that impedes, rather than promotes development. We continue to be almost completely reliant on government-funded social housing that entrenches dependency, passivity and dysfunction. We remain locked out of private home ownership, or are at the mercy of a system that is

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at risk of creating a second ‘Indigenous-specific’ class of land and asset ownership that is peripheral to the real economy. In some areas there is a real risk that Queensland is heading down a path that will trap a small number of First Nations people into private home ownership that becomes a dead asset. First Nations people for too long have missed out on the economic and social benefits, as well as the underpinning social norms, that being a good tenant or a home owner can bring.



NPARIH was replaced by the Remote Housing Strategy in 2016 but the term NPARIH is still commonly used 38. See

the Remote Housing Review

39. Sydney

Morning Herald 2009, Aboriginal land owners told to sign leases or lose funds, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March. 40. Fantin

S 2016, Housing conditionality, Indigenous lifeworlds and policy outcomes - Palm Island case study, AHURI Research Paper No. - case study report, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne.Morning Herald, 6 March.

The National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH)37 is now drawing to a close—it provided an astonishing level of funding to State and the Territory governments to deliver new housing to remote communities —$5.5 billion over 10 years to 30 June 2018. This was the grand practical gesture intended to complement the symbolism of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology. The primary objective was to reduce severe overcrowding. Houses have been built and repairs carried out. The recent review of NPARIH reveals that a social house costs $1.5 – $2.2M over 30 years.38 However, the negative consequences reach well beyond any critique of inefficiency, and the never-ending cycle of new and refurbished social housing becoming overcrowded and run down. NPARIH’s delivery has been top-down via state and territory housing bureaucracies, through a takeover and rechannelling of federally funded programs that were previously provided to Indigenous Community Housing Organisations. It has completed the bureaucratic deconstruction of Indigenous controlled housing programs that began in the early 1990s with the ‘mainstreaming’ of ATSIC’s Indigenous-specific housing programs. In Queensland bureaucrats commenced the rollout with a simple proposal for Mayors and leaders—if you want NPARIH money for new houses or refurbishments then you must agree to a major change in the underlying arrangements by signing 40 (plus 40) year leases of Indigenous land to the Department of Housing and Public Works. These long-term leases were to ensure the state government had ‘secure tenure’ and the access and control of land needed to ‘do their job’ as social housing providers.39 There was little choice for Indigenous Mayors and leaders but to acquiesce, and almost all social housing in remote communities is now plugged into the centralised state or territory housing pipelines through which the money flows. NPARIH has effectively turned what used to be community housing into social housing. Aside from the usual problems of bureaucratic centralisation, the biggest problem is that government policy has simply not understood that there is no future in Indigenous people simply having a right to occupy social housing within remote social housing grids. Indigenous home ownership and development aspirations, if they have received any attention at all, have been approached

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


as if they can just be crudely ‘bolted on’ to the massive spends on social housing through NPARIH.

VESTED INTERESTS IN CONTINUING THE SOCIAL HOUSING MODEL The Queensland Government and local Indigenous councils have been financially incentivised to keep, maintain and increase the pool of social housing. They stand to lose if there is a move away from the current model of social housing. The Queensland Government is a NPARIH appointed social housing agent, manager and provider for the Australian Government and taxpayers. While the specific fiscal relationship is not transparent, it is paid a management and servicing fee for the number of social houses built, rebuilt and refurbished. The Queensland Government has little incentive to act as an effective property manager as NPARIH funding is used to meet the gap between rentals and expenditure, and this has serious flow on consequences for social norms as tenancy agreements are poorly managed with regard to the rights and responsibilities of lessees and lessors. At the local government level financial incentives to maintain the status quo are considerable. Indigenous councils, as trustees of the underlying DOGIT tenures on which the houses sit, are paid a lease fee of $800 per year for a 40-year social housing lease and a $2000 annual service fee as a rates equivalent (they have no rates base so are heavily reliant on this). In addition, councils receive a one-off payment of $6000 for each new block leased for social housing. Councils also have preferential procurement contracts for refurbishments and maintenance contracts for the social housing. These payments are now a critical component of council funding and create a deep structural disincentive against a shift from social housing. They are also a disincentive to resolving the transfer and settlement of the underlying tenures in town held by the councils as trustees (DOGIT tenures), so that they can be held independent of local government functions (nowhere else does a local council hold the underlying tenure of a town, and for good reason). Even at the household level, the right incentives are not in place. If residents earn less than $80,000 per year then they are offered a social housing tenancy agreement which includes a low capped rental of typically $100 per week, and access to significant funds for refurbishment or even access to new housing. There is little action or penalty for non-payment. Households earning over $80,000 in Indigenous communities are not offered a sale to tenant process.40 There is still no policy to deal with these households who receive a special exemption so they can continue to live in their house, despite not meeting the criteria applied elsewhere. This system undermines the natural incentive for families to demand home ownership choices and prevents a housing market from emerging. The embedded incentives in Cape York communities simply do not support objectives of home ownership and economic development. The

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bureaucracy works to reinforce the system of centralised control over all aspects of Indigenous housing, and the false economy that it relies upon to exist. The Australian Government is in negotiations with Queensland about the future funding model for remote housing (although other states and territories have agreed to the Australian Government’s proposed model). The Queensland Government and the Indigenous councils have a vested interest in the continuation of the social housing model, and the Queensland Government has publicly indicated it wants funding to be renewed with minor changes, so that the pipeline can continue to flow.

FIRST NATIONS WANT CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN LAND AND HOUSING CHOICES Real progress for First Nations on housing and home ownership will remain elusive as long as top-down approaches provide blind support for interventions that guarantee passivity, dependence and decline. An Empowerment approach demands reforms. For development to occur we need housing reforms based on the following principles: 1. A housing system that enables people to enjoy maximum participation in economic life 2. To expand the range of housing choices available including home ownership, private rentals, and the ability to orbit to housing elsewhere to take up opportunities 3. Housing and tenancy reform 4. The right incentives for people to take responsibility and build their future. The remote housing system needs to move from a supply-side system to a demand-driven system, with families having access to housing funding and making choices for home ownership, rather than organisations and industries colluding on the supply-side. The current system is completely irrational.

CAPE-WIDE HOUSING REFORM: INNOVATION IS REQUIRED There are many examples from around the world of different housing models that help to create diversified housing sectors, where social housing is needed only to play a small but important role for those that need it the most. Housing co-op models are common across the world and they provide a good example of the principle of subsidiarity at work. Community Land Trust models from the United States also provide examples of organisations that support home ownership, private rental and public housing within an integrated model, for example. Under Pama Futures it is proposed that a Cape-wide co-operative housing structure could be established so that local people can return to owning their own housing. Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


A cooperative approach could build a more diversified housing sector with policies that differentiate between different tiers of social tenants, rather than just providing a one-size-fit- all social housing model. Different tiers of capability including those that: • Have the capability for home ownership but who need the opportunity to be made available •C ould manage private rental accommodation •G enuinely need social housing. Transitional housing is also needed to assist people from Cape York communities to orbit to places like Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane to take up education and employment opportunities—this must be a key element in a housing reform strategy. Under Pama Futures we urge government to support us to create and realise our own plans that could allow for diversified housing including, for example, rural residential living, and home ownership of existing houses and new builds at fair and reasonable prices. Innovative models need to be considered.

NEXT STEPS 1. Partners jointly develop a plan for any new funding for remote Indigenous housing in Cape York ensuring it is geared towards empowerment and local Indigenous control, providing home ownership, employment and enterprise development opportunities, and effective property and tenancy management.

Evolution of the Family Responsibilities Commission During the Pama Futures participation process, it was clear that some leaders (including the elected mayor of one Cape York community) want better ways to intervene locally to support the most at-risk families, particularly for the sake of the children to improve child development outcomes including school attendance and performance, and reduce the impact of parental drug, alcohol and gambling abuse on their futures.

SUPPORT FOR AT-RISK FAMILIES AND CHILDREN Not all welfare recipients need assistance, but many welfare recipients fall into a high-risk category and need support to address multiple and complex needs. Many individuals do not engage with services that could help, even where they are universally available. Ultimately responsibility for change rests with individuals, but government has a responsibility to ensure that structures and processes do not work against positive change and encourage people toward it. Particularly so that children have a chance of escaping the cycle, there must be mechanisms to increase pressure and even to oblige those who need help the most to access it. Part 4 Specific Initiatives


Under the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, the Family Responsibilities Commission was created to provide the fulcrum connecting the Australian Government’s welfare system, and the States’ and NGOs’ service delivery and support system to intervene with at-risk families. The triggers indicate that a person is failing to meet basic family or community obligations. The Family Responsibilities Commission is led by well-respected local Indigenous Commissioners. Those triggered are required to attend a conference with the Commissioners. The local Commissioners try to motivate and support people to take up their most fundamental responsibilities. Through conferencing a person is case managed and may be referred to supports to help them to change their behaviour and build capabilities, and/or where the local Commissioners deem it necessary, a Conditional Income Management order may be applied to quarantine up to 90% of the person’s welfare, obliging it be spent via the BasicCard at the store, or on household bills and other basics.


Bray JR, Gray M, Hand K and Katz I 2014, Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: Final Evaluation Report (SPRC Report 25/2014), Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, p. 139.

CONDITIONAL INCOME MANAGEMENT IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE Conditional Income Management is a highly effective at achieving its key aim of ensuring quarantined income is used to meet basic household needs. The evidence shows nearly all—99.8 per cent—of the income-managed welfare in Northern Territory was spent on the basic necessities and was protected from being spent on prohibited items.41 While some people find ways to circumvent the measure, overall effectiveness is very high. By effectively quarantining money, Conditional Income Management can help prevent the most tragic outcomes of parental dysfunction and neglect, such as malnutrition and failure to thrive. Conditional Income management on its own, however, is not enough. As demonstrated by recent horrific cases of child abuse and neglect in the Northern Territory, other strategies are needed to combat entrenched social problems. In Cape York, too, a structural shift is needed to achieve real change.

CONDITIONAL INCOME MANAGEMENT MUST BE BUTTRESSED WITH OTHER STRATEGIES While the Family Responsibilities Commission has had strong success, it has failed to evolve. Other strategies to buttress positive changes are needed to reinforce the success of the Family Responsibilities Commission but were not introduced under the trial. Conditional Income Management by itself cannot reduce welfare dependency, nor can it on its own, or instantly, rectify the multiple and complex issues of addiction, child abuse and neglect, violence and offending. Conditional Income Management is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution for all things. Norm change requires multiple messengers, and yet there is a failure to universalise the messages to restore positive norms that are the focus of the Family Responsibilities Commission. For example, where there is chronic non-attendance of children at school, prosecutions of parents

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


under existing laws or child safety action, would reinforce the importance of every child’s right to a good education. Yet this still does not occur.

PUTTING PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE People must become the centre of efforts to break the cycle— whether that effort is made through the criminal justice system, the child protection system, the education system, or the welfare system. Interventions and supports should be designed around people and not determined by pre-existing silos of responsibilities within or across governments. The ongoing lack of connection between the State’s service delivery system and the Commonwealth’s welfare system – outside of the Family Responsibilities Commission – is a classic example of the problems associated with government silos. The power of connecting the welfare system with the service delivery and support system has been tested through the Family Responsibilities Commission and it should be expanded. A model that connects the State’s service delivery system and the Commonwealth’s welfare system can put people at the centre through active case management. Conditional Income Management can be part of an effective approach that uses a full suite of tools to encourage people to access the supports they need to build the capabilities required, and obliges them to meet their most basic obligations. There are many potential ways to link the welfare system with the service delivery system. Where welfare recipients are convicted in the Magistrates Court of drug offences, or violent offences where drugs or alcohol are involved, and where court orders may already include a requirement to submit to regular urine tests and for a person to access treatment and rehabilitation support, for example, this could also be a trigger point for Conditional Income Management (or cashless or voucherised welfare). Similarly, if you are a welfare recipient with child safety issues, Child Safety may already trigger a requirement to undertake a parenting support program or access drug and alcohol treatment —and Conditional Income Management can be another tool available. The functions of the Family Responsibilities Commission should be combined with those of Community Justice Groups in Indigenous communities (see Figure 21), and active case management could extend through the courts, child safety and other aspects of the service delivery system as desired, so that where necessary and on the advice of local leaders, it is possible to ‘reach into’ the welfare system to apply a Conditional Income Management order to support at-risk individuals and families and their children.

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EFFICIENCIES FOR A PERMANENT MODEL The ‘backend’ Centrelink costs and other administrative costs within the Family Responsibilities Commission are too high. Economies of scale and emerging technologies can assist in streamlining the model. The Queensland Government, Australian Government and Indigenous reform leaders should collaborate to urgently evolve the Family Responsibilities Commission so that there can be a permanent, appropriate and efficient welfare reform mechanism that people of a place can opt in and be ‘switched-on’ to help the most at-risk individuals and their children to break the cycle of intergenerational dependency and its associated parlous outcomes.

NEXT STEPS 1. Evolve welfare reform mechanisms and the Family Responsibilities Commission to more streamlined and agile arrangements, able to be “switched on” in communities as needed on the request of local leaders.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Child protection We want healthy, happy children. This is the shared dream of all the parents, community leaders, community members, government representatives, and the service providers in our communities. It is the aim of Pama Futures. It is a tragic fact that in some places, there is a gulf between that dream and the reality, and that a great deal of change must occur to bridge that gulf. Reversing the negative social spiral that can begin for children by the mere fact of their birth within a particular postcode is the most fundamental change that is required in Cape York. Every child deserves to grow up and be able to say ‘I grew up safe and happy’. Indeed, they have every right to be able to say, ‘I had a childhood and adolescence of the kind that provides a strong launching pad for success throughout the rest of my life’. There have been serious and longstanding concerns about the ongoing child protection crisis in Cape York Peninsula. Reports have highlighted concerns about child abuse, including sexual abuse, in Indigenous communities in Queensland and elsewhere. •Q ld’s 2001 Cape York Justice Study led by Tony Fitzgerald •W A’s 2002 Gordon Inquiry, which made 197 findings and recommendations in its report, entitled Putting the Picture Together: Inquiry into Response by Government Agencies to Complaints of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities •N SW’s 2006 report of the Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce, Breaking the Silence: Creating the Future. Addressing Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities in NSW, made 119 recommendations •T he NT 2007 inquiry report Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle: Little Children Are Sacred •T he Qld 2012 report on Preventing Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun: Establishing the Scope, Dimension and Dynamics of the Problem, by Professor Stephen Smallbone, Susan Rayment-McHugh and Dimity Smith or Griffith University. In Cape York our First Nations children remain vulnerable to the horror and the trauma exposed in the recent reports of the violent rape of a two year-old in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The child was known by authorities there to be at-risk. The extremely high levels of child neglect, physical and sexual abuse must be understood as part of the broader picture of marginalisation and disadvantage—over decades the social fabric has been shredded and a schism formed in people’s care and protection of themselves and their offspring. The risk factors for child abuse can be readily identified, and they are present in abundance in our disadvantaged communities. The broad Development agenda and the Empowerment approach being pursued under Pama Futures will address underlying problems. Nonetheless there is an immediate need for work that can increase the effectiveness of early targeted intervention, promote family preservation and support repatriation for First Nation families. Part 4 Specific Initiatives


There is no reason to believe that further government-led efforts to reform the child protection system in Queensland can turn around the ongoing escalation of the child protection crisis. The evidence over several decades shows it cannot. The First Nations must take responsibility for all children. Ownership of responses to the child protection crisis must lie primarily within communities themselves. There is no amount of better coordination of service delivery, or filling gaps that will eliminate this problem. Government has an important role to play. Services must respond to the safety and protection needs of children in these places by applying the same thresholds for intervention that would be expected anywhere else. This is most difficult in communities beset by substance abuse, family violence and child abuse, but we cannot accept the loss of yet another generation of Indigenous children. Work must occur with communities to build personal and community responsibility to address the fundamental need for care and protection of all children. There must be co-design of the strategies required. Governments must be willing to support such co-design and to put in place innovative and creative solutions, so that our villages can oblige and support family responsibility to increase the effectiveness of early targeted intervention, to promote family preservation and support repatriation. Cape York Institute, with 2nd Road, has presented to Queensland’s Department of Communities a proposal for Changing the Trajectory for Vulnerable Families and Children in Cape York through a co-design process with local community and service providers.

NEXT STEPS 1. Co-design preventative, early intervention strategies and innovative solutions to make fundamental improvements for vulnerable families in their local community.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Part 4 Specific Initiatives



Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Part 5 Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation


Effective implementation will be a formidable challenge. Indigenous affairs has been plagued by a pattern of effort at the front end on design of reforms (albeit the preoccupation has been with bureaucratic reform of service delivery), and a grossly inadequate focus on ensuring implementation is well managed and sustained over time. Pama Futures will establish the delivery mechanisms needed for successful implementation to be pursued relentlessly and rigorously. Monitoring and evaluation efforts in Indigenous affairs are poor. The Australian Government has recently allocated $40 million to improve Indigenous evaluation activities and in the 2018 Closing the Gap address the Prime Minister acknowledged the need for change saying, “Data that ends up in a spreadsheet at the ABS here in Canberra, is meaningless. Too much is written about communities and not nearly enough is written for communities” and “data must be local and it must be made available to communities; to local decision-makers who need it to know what is happening on the ground, to track changes and monitor progress.” Under Pama Futures it is essential that effective implementation is supported by a monitoring and evaluation framework that tracks progress, including so that course correction can occur along the way. Such an approach allows learning across the partnership, particularly for Indigenous people whose futures are at stake, and who are in it for the long haul.

Delivery A rigorous and sustained focus on implementation performance is required to drive the extensive reforms. The need to shift to a comprehensive Empowerment approach—to activate, mobilise and reward Indigenous initiative and self-reliance, build Indigenous responsibility and leadership, and build capability and access to opportunity within enabling environments—requires a long-term approach. It is proposed that a Regional Partnership Board and a Partnership Delivery Unit be established so that government partners and Indigenous leadership across Cape York are locked into working closely together to deliver on the 10-year commitment to the new agenda. It is proposed the roles and responsibilities of the Regional Partnership Board and a Partnership Delivery Unit will be set out in the First Nations Empowerment and Closing the Gap Partnership Act 2018, in a chapter establishing the new Regional Partnership Authority, that will also include the Partnership Tables.

REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP BOARD The Regional Partnership Board will provide cohesive leadership across the new empowerment partnership. The four partners on the Board are to be: the sub-regions of Cape York, the regional organisations, the Australian Government and the Queensland Government. Representation will be high level. It will include the Associate Secretary (Indigenous Affairs) of the Department of the Prime Minister and

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Cabinet, who is the public servant ultimately responsible for the administration of Indigenous affairs within the Australian Government, and their counterpart in the Queensland Government. Each government will require a financial delegate also, with the appropriate authority to establish the pooled fund. The representative of the regional organisations will be the most senior Cape York Indigenous executive of the Cape York Partnership, currently its CEO. The representative of the sub-regions on the Board will play an important role in holding the other partners to account for fulfilling their primary role as enablers of First Nations. The Board will have accountability both to the Cape York Futures Forum and the sub-region Partnership Tables. It will prepare reports for the Cape York Futures Forum for its two meetings a year to ensure it is the people of Cape York that sit directly across the top of the implementation of Pama Futures, not the Board itself. The Board will also support the sub-regional Partnership Tables and assist to resolve/unblock any difficult issues. Of course it is the First Nations people of Cape York who must be the keepers of their Development agenda—not any high-level Board. Nonetheless the Board will be necessary to marshal the reform efforts across the partnership, particularly from the highest level within governments, in a coordinated way. The Board will establish policy committees and working groups for co-design work, such as the urgent co-design work proposed in this report on child protection and to establish tribal wealth funds.

PARTNERSHIP DELIVERY UNIT The four partners will also collaborate in a Partnership Delivery Unit established to lead and support implementation. The Partnership Delivery Unit will be a virtual unit whose management team will include: the sub-regional and regional organisations representatives on the Regional Partnership Board, PM&Cs Regional Manager, and the Queensland Government’s equivalent Regional Manager. Project managers and teams drawn from across the four partners will work in the Partnership Delivery Unit to progress the changes. The key functions of the Partnership Delivery Unit will be: •C o-defining targets, trajectories, milestones and responsibilities for agreed priorities •S etting up tracking tools and processes •M onitoring progress •R eporting progress •A ctively problem solving, resolving bottlenecks and proposing course corrections •F acilitating and bridging work across organisational and jurisdictional boundaries •E arly warning of risks and recommended actions.

Part 5 Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation


Monitoring and Evaluation 15 CAPABILITIES ESSENTIAL TO CLOSE THE GAP Cape York’s First Nations people want to close the gap on inequality. The Closing the Gap targets are indicators, but they don’t tell us what we need to do. To Close the Gap under Pama Futures, we have adopted a Development agenda, and we are putting in place an Empowerment approach. We have a clear theory of change. It is by building the capabilities of our people iteratively over time that we will gap will close. These capabilities are set out in the Introduction to this submission. To make sure there is a concerted effort to build these capabilities for our people we must put a framework in place that tracks the inputs and spending in Cape York against the stated objectives of programs and services to build these capabilities. We want to put in place a monitoring and evaluation framework that creates transparency of inputs, outputs and outcomes for Cape York and its sub-regions Outcomes can be tied explicitly to Closing the Gap. Of all of the Closing the Gap targets, life expectancy is the ultimate indicator of the gap. Many factors going beyond health, to education, employment, and economic development, have a bearing on improved life expectancy. For example, hundreds of young Cape York children have completed secondary schooling in recent decades, many of them in Queensland’s best schools, and many of them have gone on to obtain tertiary qualifications in law, nursing, teaching, commerce and skilled trades. Importantly, many of them are now forming the next generation of Cape York leaders. It is when we comprehensively build the capabilities of our people that the gap will close. Across our sub-regions, through our sub-regional planning we will develop other goals and targets additional to the Closing the Gap targets, which reflect what is important for the First Nations in Cape York as they build these fifteen capabilities. The indicators and targets will be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and TimeBound). Under Pama Futures, we both seek, and provide, an explicit commitment to monitoring and reporting on Closing the Gap targets, as well as the additional indicators that will be nominated by us, at the sub-regional and regional level. Monitoring and evaluation and reporting to the sub-regions needs to assist First Nations people to engage more fulsomely in understanding the impacts of investments in our places and support us in our decision-making. To be useful the monitoring and evaluation framework must enable us to: •A ssess whether programs/activities are having the desired outcomes and impacts over time • I nform decisions about program design, adaptation and re-design •m onitor and evaluate change at the highest levels (e.g. against Pama Futures) and at those levels closest to the ground (e.g. against a

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


program’s theory of change). We need to be realistic about how change occurs in complex environments. First Nations people need timely, useful and relevant information to facilitate adaptive practice precisely because there is no suite of best practice programs that can simply be adapted for our communities to respond to the whole complex of Indigenous problems—that is, there is no verified ‘best practice’ solution to close the gap. Development is not a linear process. Indigenous communities are not laboratory environments, and the science of evaluation in such complex settings is not as precise as much of the rhetoric may suggest. For example, even the most rigorous impact evaluation of a program that identifies it is working (setting aside all the difficulties of small numbers and attribution in communities crowded with interventions), provides no guarantee that the program can be adapted or scaled up to work elsewhere. Success in these complex settings tends to be highly context specific. Often it is a naïve idea to think that you can evaluate programs ‘here’ and adapt them to solve the problem ‘over there’. In many areas innovation and experimentation must be encouraged through co-design so that new approaches are informed by the existing evidence base. This is likely to hold far more promise than by attempting to identify best practice or what works and then attempting to apply it in a particular community. While we can learn from approaches to development elsewhere, in many ways the change process required in each local context of an individual Indigenous community is unknown and unpredictable. We need to work together, learn by doing and from collective experience, and iterate our way to holistic solutions (which are often not particularly amenable to meaningful impact evaluation). In some areas there is a strong evidence base that should be used to inform improvements in service delivery. For example, education is an area in which there is relatively abundant rigorous evidence as to ‘best practice’ and ‘what works’ to effectively teach literacy and numeracy skills to a child. Where this is the case evidence can be used far more systematically, for example, to ensure that every school is on track to dramatically lift their performance and close the gap. How to teach a child literacy and numeracy is complex, but it involves less complexity that say interventions to prevent suicide and incarceration—this is what makes the education evidence very salient when it comes to implementing school improvement in Indigenous schools.

AN M&E UNIT IS NEEDED CYP has a key enabling role to play in Pama Futures, and it is well placed to house an independent, dedicated M & E Unit that becomes a leading Centre of Excellence as an Indigenous-controlled monitoring, evaluation and adaptive learning centre, that co-designs, adopts and implements the Pama Futures M & E Framework. It would be the role of the M & E Unit to generate reports for the sub-regions, and to report back to the Cape York Futures Forum and the annual Cape York Summit, effectively providing an open and transparent audit on progress. The proposed M & E Unit become a single point of contact with Governments and negotiates agreements with governments for the coordination of access to administrative data held by governments and needed by Cape York

Part 5 Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation


organisations, including at the sub-regional levels, to assist Indigenous leaders and the grassroots to set priorities, track progress and to understand the impact of their decisions.

NEXT STEPS 1. Establish a Regional Partnership Board and a Partnership Delivery Unit to drive effective delivery performance of Pama Futures and ensure partners work together for success. 2. Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework which provides the capacity to track and adapt as we seek to build the 15 essential capabilities, which explicitly link to Closing the Gap indicators, including the ultimate indicator of Life Expectancy, and Cape York’s own indicators to be established through co-design. 3. Establish an M & E Unit within CYP that becomes a leading Centre of Excellence as an Indigenous-controlled monitoring, evaluation and adaptive learning centre, that co-designs, adopts and implements the Pama Futures monitoring and evaluation framework.

Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council


Part 5 Delivery, Monitoring & Evaluation


Cape York Partnership & Cape York Land Council

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