Cape York Indigenous Summit
Cape York Indigenous Summit - May 15, 2015
More than 200 Cape York Traditional Owners united this week to work through a packed agenda around rights, recognition and empowerment.
The two-day summit kicked off some very important conversations around empowerment in our dealings with government, and the Indigenous-led Empowered Communities initiative.
Over the past 20 years, the gathering of Indigenous people at Cape York Summits has produced important, even historic stepping stones on the road to a better future for us and our children.
Chairman of the Cape York Land Council Richie Ah Mat said, “Together, big decisions have been made (at Cape York Summits) about our rights – and our responsibilities – regarding land, health and other issues that will affect generations to come.”
The first Summit at Lockhart River in 1990 led to the establishment of the Cape York Land Council. Other Summits led major health and land initiatives for Cape York Indigenous people.
Chair of Balkanu Waubin Richard Aken said that since then, the united strength, wisdom and passion of voices raised at each Summit have begun to be heard by Indigenous communities – and governments – around Australia.
The Apunipima Cape York Health Council was borne from a Summit. CEO Cleveland Fagan said that government needs to relinquish control and enable Indigenous people to ‘design our own solutions for endemic health challenges’.
At the Summit Thomas Hudson, Chair of Apunipima, said, “The Cape York Indigenous Summit is about giving control and empowerment to our people. Us mob from Cape York communities have the solutions for addressing our community needs from the grassroots up.”
This Summit builds on the i20 Cape York Summit held in September last year where 75 Traditional Owners came together to plan their economic future.
General manager of Cape York Partnership Fiona Jose said that Cape York is seriously getting down to business with plans already underway to reconvene in September to cement a united position and commitment to reform.
Participants have talked about their land, the One Claim native title application, and the next steps needed to develop a Cape York economy.
“There has also been time to talk about achieving Constitutional Recognition for our people,” Ms Jose said.
“The collective spirit of the 200 leaders gathered have created a strong voice and will for change. The energy is wonderful and it feels like a new era for Cape York people. We feel like we are moving into a very positive era of responsibility and empowerment.”
“We really need to design our own future, make choices about our own future, and be active agents, this business as usual government approach is not the best for us.”
The Summit was organised by Cape York Partnership, Apunipima, Balkanu and Cape York Land Council.