THE pot-holed road to Cape York’s self-determination has led to Palm Cove for about 400 indigenous leaders paving the way for their communities’ shared future.
Dubbed Cape York Agenda 2.0, the two-day forum winding up yesterday was the latest in a series of summits dating back to the ’90s.
The conclave took a different feel to its forerunners, with perspective shifting away from fighting for native title and towards converting those claims into jobs.
The chain is dragging along, but an enormous land claim known as Cape York United Number 1 is expected to be settled over the coming years.
It covers a record 14.6 million hectares, and its anticipated approval will mean the majority of native title claims across Cape York have been determined.
The challenge is now to convert those successful determinations into meaningful benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Cape York Partnership’s new CEO Fiona Jose said this was the group’s largest summit to date.
“Land councils’ have been focusing for the past 27 years on fighting for title land and getting it back,” she said.
“That work is actually going to be done over the next three to five years.
“No we have to plan how to empower our people; to have plans for the regions and how we can actually create jobs on our country so we can have wealth and economic development.”
A key talking point of the meeting was the need to establish a clearly-structured organisation that could relay information from the government to the Cape’s grassroots, and back again.
“Governments are spending a lot of money in our name but it’s not hitting the ground,” Ms Jose said.
“We want to make those decisions — we’re ready to take responsibility for our own governance.”
Ms Jose this week was named on the new Indigenous Reference Group to advise the Federal Government on its northern development agenda.
She was buoyed to hear Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion assert that indigenous people needed an opportunity to develop their land if the Northern Australia’s potential was to be realised.
She said bureaucracy had hampered efforts for decades.
The Queensland Productivity Commission is due to hand down a report into the service delivery minefield in indigenous communities.
“They don’t understand, they don’t live in the community, and nor do they have flexibility,” Ms Jose said.
“They run standard programs across communities expecting each community to be the same, but it’s not.
“We know this, and we are offering a solution.”
- by Chris Calcino
- The Cairns Pos
- 13th Dec, 2017