Empowered Communities is not a new idea. But we feel that it’s an idea whose time has finally come, because we have unity amongst ourselves, and strong leadership in place – leaders who can make it happen.
The main change is Indigenous leaders taking responsibility for Indigenous communities, at a local level, rather than decisions being made by people who are far removed from the issues and challenges facing Indigenous people.
How is this different to every other Indigenous reform?
The key to Empowered Communities is that it has been developed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people. It’s not a government proposal that has Indigenous support. We have not been ‘consulted’. This is ours; we have owned this from the beginning. This is about strong leaders, across the regions, who have the support of their communities, and are driving real change, and partnering with government to bring it to fruition. Kimberley leaders have been involved with the development of the report every step of the way.
What are we looking at to change?
Our vision is for the Kimberley to have a thriving and sustainable values-based Indigenous cultural foundation, from which we:
- build Aboriginal enterprises that offer choices for our people to take up employment opportunities
- create wealth and wellbeing for our community
- achieve positive social reform across the region, in which
- Culture is strong, celebrated and maintained.
- Adults participate in training and work.
- Children are school ready, on time and attend school.
- Children and the vulnerable are cared for and safe.
- People do not commit crimes and they look after their homes.
What priorities will be worked on?
It’s early days, so no priorities have been agreed to as yet. Some of the big issues that Aboriginal people and our members talk to us about include
- Support for young people – how do we provide a vision of the future for young people so they can see their place in it? How do we support their education? Can we create more work that is meaningful to young people? How can we help young people walk ahead in two worlds?
- Suicide prevention – what can we do to stop people from harming themselves and completing suicide? How do we get people to reengage with their community and feel the will to live?
- School attendance – how do make our schools places of great learning? How do we involve parents and community leaders in our children’s education? How do we engage our children in schooling?
- Community viability – what does this mean? What help can we get? Will services in our community be removed?
We are looking to hear from more people and communities and organisations about what the priorities are that we need to focus on.
Why are there two Empowered Communities organisations in the Kimberley?
Two organisations have been involved in developing the Empowered Communities’ model and philosophy from the Kimberly. The Kimberly Land Council (KLC) and Wunan have been involved from the start. The KLC has formally handed over responsibility as the back bone organisation to Aarnja. Aarnja covers the West and Central Kimberley. Wunun covers the East Kimberley. Both organisations work closely together.
For more information on Empowered Communities, including more FAQs, visit