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Northern development on our own terms

Posted: Fri, June 19, 2015

Nyirrpi students visit Rosebud Secondary College and participate in a science class.

Central Land Council chair Francis Jupurrurla Kelly has told the National Native Title Conference that Aboriginal people in Central Australia use income from land use agreements to drive empowerment and positive change in their communities.

“We’re not waiting for government to do things for us, we’re getting on with developing our communities ourselves,” Mr Kelly said. “That’s self-determination.”

“We have used our money for swimming pools, dialysis units and learning centres. We create local employment and run education projects where Aboriginal people make all the decisions,” he said.

“We work out what we need and the CLC is there to support us.”

Mr Kelly and CLC director David Ross presented the findings of an independent, government funded evaluation of the CLC’s community development program before the conference wrapped up on Thursday.

The evaluation by La Trobe University found the CLC’s program has produced many social, cultural and economic outcomes valued by Aboriginal people, empowered them within a broader context of disempowerment and generated greater lasting collective benefits than individual payments.

“The model was also found to be cost effective,” Mr Ross said.

The CLC’s community development program which has supported Aboriginal groups to plan and implement a wide range of community benefit projects with their land use income started a trend away from the individual distribution of these payments.

The CLC initiative has inspired the Northern Land Council to plan its own community development program and to rethink how it works with royalty and compensation payments.

Mr Ross said the program began when a group of Warlpiri women approached him about using mining royalties to improve education and training outcomes in their communities.

“It has strengthened the voice of women and other vulnerable groups and brought them into the decision making process.”

He said the CLC’s experience over the past 10 years highlights the importance of Aboriginal control and informed decision making about local issues and of local solutions.

“The success of our program shows that land councils can play an important role in supporting strong governance arrangements that help groups to allocate resources to development initiatives and build their own capacity to plan and manage these projects.”

Friday, 19 June 2015                                             

Contact Elke Wiesmann, (08) 8951 6217, 0417 887 579

Independent Evaluation of the Central Land Council’s Community Development and Governance Programmes 2014