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Illawarra Wingecarribee Accord - Message from the Head of AA

14-May-2018

A new day dawns in the Illawarra

Today we celebrate a giant step towards self-determination for Aboriginal people in this state.

Today, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, The Hon Sarah Mitchell, will travel to Country to meet with the chair of the Illawarra Wingecarribee Aboriginal Alliance Corporation, Geoffrey Maher, and sign a landmark agreement between Aboriginal people in the region and the New South Wales Government.

Led by the community, the agreement is the result of three years work, including twelve months of negotiation, and it marks the beginning of a new relationship of trust, cooperation and shared responsibility between Government and Aboriginal people in the region.

Today’s Accord signing has come about through Local Decision Making, which is an initiative of the Government’s OCHRE (Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment) Plan.

Local Decision Making is strengths-based and community led. It is about enabling the voice of Aboriginal people to be heard by Government. It’s about challenging assumptions about how Government works, and putting Aboriginal people in the driver’s seat of decision-making. And it is overturning top down approaches to policy and service provision.

I am immensely proud to see first-hand how the Local Decision Making process has shifted the relationship between the Illawarra Wingecarribee Aboriginal Alliance Corporation and the NSW Government in the Illawarra Wingecarribee region.

We know from over 40 years of research in America and Australia that self-governance and self-determination are fundamental factors in generating sustained socio-economic development and wellbeing in Aboriginal communities.

This agreement represents significant change in the way that Aboriginal communities and government work together. It embodies true partnership. With a raft of new solutions and responses to issues in the areas of education and early childhood learning, housing and homelessness, economic development, health and justice, and with increased investment in community driven decision-making, this Accord has the potential to deliver sustained outcomes.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work, commitment and respect demonstrated by all engaged in this process, including members of the Illawarra Wingecarribee Aboriginal Alliance Corporation and representatives from across the NSW Government. I congratulate and thank you all, and I look forward to watching this partnership grow through implementation.

Jason Ardler
Head of Aboriginal Affairs NSW


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