Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Empowered Communities launch

Today a group of over 25 prominent Indigenous leaders – from eight remote, regional and urban regions spanning six states and territories launched their plan to transform the way Indigenous policy is developed and implemented.

Both sides of federal politics have committed $5m to fund a detailed design that will involve Indigenous organisations and government working together on a single taskforce. The proposal would see a new interface between government and Indigenous communities, with a focus on supporting Indigenous authority and responsibility as a means of improving social norms and more quickly closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The group – called Empowered Communities – includes Noel Pearson, former Australian of the Year Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM, APY / NPY Womens’ Council Patron Marcia Langton, Western Australian Aboriginal Citizen of the Year Ian Trust, Australia’s Local Hero of the Year Shane Phillips, Kaiela Institute Chairman Paul Briggs OAM, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Sean Gordon, Cape York Institute CEO Fiona Jose and KRED Enterprises CEO Wayne Bergman. The leaders have been collaborating on this plan since June, building on the work they have done in their own communities for many years.
- Empowered Communities
The following video outlines some of the thinking behind this initiative. The first 5 minutes or so is mainly preamble

After that, Noel Pearson outlines three issues in this recent speech:
  1. The unity of opposites - indigenous rights and responsibilities
  2. The mouse and elephant. Indigenous Australians make up 3% of the population, being so outnumbered how can they make progress?
  3. Anchored leadership
What is JAWUN? (displayed on the caps of the participants)

It is an alliance between corporate and indigenous Australians:
Jawun is essentially people sharing their stories. Our corporate and government secondees share their stories – their expertise, skills and knowledge. In return, our Indigenous partners share their stories – their values, culture and point of view.
- source

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The soon to be Abbott-Pearson alliance in indigenous affairs

Tony Abbott, our new Prime Minister after September 7th, has been a long term supporter of the Noel Pearson approach to indigenous reform. To me this means that at last there is a fighting chance for the brilliant Pearson led reforms in Cape York to spread to other indigenous communities. I have added some emphasis in bold to the following article in today's Australian. I look forward to reading "Empowered Communities", the Pearson led blueprint which will be released next Wednesday.

Tony Abbott to fund Noel Pearson gap plan
- by Patricia Karvelas and Paul Kelly, The Australian August 24, 2013

TONY Abbott has thrown his support behind a radical plan devised by indigenous leader Noel Pearson to empower Aboriginal communities, to ensure that monies spent deliver real gains on the ground.

"I am happy to be working with Noel Pearson on this project and I believe there are lots of lessons to be drawn from his experience on Cape York," the Opposition Leader told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

His support means an Abbott government would assess a sweeping new agenda for governance in indigenous communities. It would be based upon the Pearson concept of an Indigenous Policy Productivity Council (IPPP) to evaluate the multiple programs that service Aborigines.

Mr Pearson's blueprint, "Empowered Communities", will be released in Sydney next Wednesday with Mr Abbott promising a $5 million commitment to develop the idea.

This signals that Mr Pearson will become a close personal adviser to Mr Abbott if he becomes prime minister.

"Governance is a terrible problem in remote Aboriginal communities," Mr Abbott said. "Noel Pearson has been a prophet for our times. He is a remarkable thinker on social policy and I want to support his efforts.

"The urgent task now, however, is to get kids into school, parents into jobs and ensure there is law and order in these communities."

The Pearson concept, based on a new statutory body, aims to monitor current programs, identify why they are failing and entrench the principle of indigenous-led responsibility at the heart of all policy. It involves a five-year pilot program for eight different regions on an opt-in basis.

"We have the money but we are not getting the results that we should be getting," Mr Pearson told The Weekend Australian.

"This is about re-engineering the existing investment. It is about making the existing investments more productive."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has also committed to developing future welfare reform models with Mr Pearson and the other welfare reform leaders.

Ms Macklin gave in principle support to the empowered communities proposal. She committed to work with Mr Pearson to develop it further.

Mr Abbott and Mr Peason have held extensive talks about the difficulties facing indigenous communities and the need for major reforms.

The Opposition Leader has stated that indigenous policy will be one of his top priorities if he wins the September 7 election.

The Pearson plan means the new IPPC will hold both government and indigenous parties to account for progress.

"It would say, 'you guys made these commitments, said they would be delivered by this date, so how are we going and what's the blockage?'," Mr Pearson said.

"I see this as the most important second-tier reform.

"The first-tier reform is the recognition agenda in the Constitution at a high level of symbolism and both parties are committed to that.

"The next step down is the practical delivery.

"I see this happening in this reform of empowered communities. In my view it will be the thing that gives substance to the headline commitment.

"If you go into the Lockhart River (community) in Cape York, you know there are 90 government programs there.

"You have one organisation having to report 90 different grant programs. The issue is: how do we account to a single point rather than 90 separate points?"

Mr Pearson's aim is to bring the transformative progress in Cape York to other communities. Under his plan, funds would be pooled on a region-by-region basis under bold new partnership agreements.

Mr Pearson, as head of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, has drafted a 25-page reform blueprint along with other indigenous leaders.

It has been given to Labor and the Coalition and obtained by The Weekend Australian.

Under the pooled funding proposal, spending would be overseen by the IPPC. It would co-ordinate different agencies to help close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous living standards faster.

That body would audit the performance of both government and Aboriginal organisations.

Mr Pearson is also concerned that private companies who have outsourcing contracts are not performing to expectations.

Since June, eight regions have been working together to develop cross-regional collaboration and a new interface between government and indigenous communities.

The regions are Cape York, the central coast of NSW, inner Sydney, Goulburn Murray, East Kimberley, West Kimberley, APY/NPY Lands, and Northeast Arnhem Land.

The idea is to test the effectiveness of programs. Pooled funding for opt-in regions would be based on empowered local communities. The blueprint asked for $5m to fund a nine-month design phase.

The overall aim is for the Closing the Gap targets to be achieved faster.

Mr Pearson is keen for government to reform its tender process so that indigenous organisations and people assume more responsibility.

This means tenders must recognise characteristics relevant to service delivery that are currently excluded: for example, connection to community and indigenous leadership.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Linguicide (language killing) and glottophagy (language eating)

Some information about Australian indigenous endangered languages. The map shows us that so far, in the main, indigenous languages have only survived in the areas of Australia least settled by whites:
List of Australian indigenous languages and their status, such as estimates of the number of remaining speakers
Linguicide (language killing) and glottophagy (language eating) have made Australia an unlucky country. These twin forces have been in operation in Australia since the early colonial period, when efforts were made to prevent Aboriginal people from continuing to speak their language, in order to ‘civilize’ them ...
- Historical and moral arguments for language reclamation
Australia has set a record for ‘linguicide’, with 92 per cent of Indigenous languages fading or dead, according to one linguist who has used Harmony Day to emphasise the role language plays in community and culture.

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann says that language plays a lead role in people's identity, cultural autonomy, and even their wellbeing and mental health, and should be seen as something that brings Australians together.

"While it's very easy for people to believe we should all be speaking English in the 21st century, the reality is there are dozens of languages spoken in Australia today by people from fascinating and multifaceted backgrounds," Professor Zuckermann says.

More than half of the world’s approximate 7,000 languages are at risk of disappearing in the next 100 years.
Linguicide: How dying languages kill multiculturalism
250 Number of Aboriginal languages spoken in Australia before invasion

600 Number of dialects spoken in Australia before invasion

60 Number of Aboriginal languages considered 'alive' and in use as a first tongue today

11% Percentage of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people mainly speaking an Aboriginal language at home in 2008, unchanged from 2002 [20]. 75% of these can also speak English

50% Percentage of Indigenous people in some remote areas of Australia whose speak an Aboriginal language at home

62% Percentage of Aboriginal adults who identified with a clan, language or tribal group in 2008. Same figure in 2002: 54%
- Aboriginal languages
Professor Zuckerman has outlined a strategy of what could be done to revive some of the endangered languages in this article: Stop, Revive, Survive: Lessons from the Hebrew Revival Applicable to the Reclamation,Maintenance and Empowerment of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Baez-Dylan and Dr King

I've never understood why Bob Dylan never went on an anti Vietnam war protest. The reflections of Joan Baez place this into perspective in a generous and gracious way.
"We have, and had, nothing in common," she says of Dylan in her memoir, "except that he was my mystic brother; we have been street twins, bound together by times and circumstances."

Unlike Baez, Dylan was no activist. He looked at the world, saw its flaws and took them for granted. She wanted to change the world. Fifty years ago this month, she dragged Dylan along to the March on Washington - where "my beloved Dr King [set] aside his prepared speech and let the breath of God thunder through him". While Dylan drifted away from the topical folk milieu, Baez's commitment to the civil rights movement just intensified. There is a memorable anecdote about the time an exhausted King was napping through a scheduled appearance at a church. Intimidated by the prospect of his wrath, his aides sent Baez into his bedroom to rouse him with a song. When she hit the high notes on Pilgrim of Sorrow, he stirred with a moan and murmured: "B'lieve I hear the sound of an angel. Sing me 'nother one, Joan."

More than 40 years later, in 2010, performing We Shall Overcome at the White House, she recalled: "One day, Dr King realised that [the] non-violence fight went well beyond the shores of this great country, went far across the sea to a war that was being fought by God's children on both sides of that great fight. And he knew that he had to speak out against that. And he was afraid. He was very afraid. So we all raised our voices just a little bit louder, and we said: 'We are not afraid today'."
-How sweet the sound as Joan Baez starts her Australian tour, The Australian, August 03, 2013