Docker River, Mutitjulu, Aputula (Finke) and Imanpa residents are a step closer to adopting a new plan that would give them more power to run their own communities.

The federal government is expected to soon announce its response to ‘Empowered Communities’, a proposal put forward by indigenous leaders from eight regions around Australia, including the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yangkunytjatjara (NPY) lands.

Under the plan, state and federal governments would be asked to become “enablers of Aboriginal people”. This would mean giving up some of their powers over Aboriginal people and sharing other powers.

The plan is about “indigenous people empowering ourselves by taking all appropriate and necessary powers and responsibilities for our own lives and futures.

”NPY Women’s Council CEO Andrea Mason says her organisation wants to make sure that a significant number of NPY communities are fully consulted about the initiative and have a say about their priorities.

Ms Mason explained the project at the CLC’s last council meeting in April and sought support from delegates for the four NPY communities in the CLC region.

She told the delegates Empowered Communities is a “self- determination model where we take control.”

She said it is being developed from the ground up.

NPY Women’s Council and other leaders already engaged in understanding the model will hold flexible meetings in most NPY region communities.

The meeting schedule will be flexible. Some communities may want to hold separate meetings for men, women and young people.

The eight regions around Australia involved in the Empowered Communities project have agreed on five goals, but Ms Mason said each region would interpret those goals in its own way.

For example, Aboriginal people in Sydney may want to be able to afford their own homes, whereas people in the NPY lands may want more and better public housing.

The NPY region has come up with its own version of the five goals:

  • quality education and support for children to attend school, with parents and families actively involved
  • urgently tackle domestic, family and community violence and alcohol and drug abuse
  • safety and welfare of children and vulnerable people
  • all capable adults take part in training, work or meaningful engagement in community and family life
  • access to housing, with mutual responsibility between housing providers and community.

After all the community meetings, NPY communities will decide on what their first priorities are. While they negotiate those priorities with government, they will start work on a five year development agenda.

This step could involve a lot of planning, but Ms Mason said communities should soon be able to see progress on short term priorities.

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