A young Aboriginal leader from the Western Cape York says the Empowered Communities initiative launched by Noel Pearson and backed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week is far from empowering the grassroots.
By
Nancia Guivarra

Source:
NITV News
2 Sep 2013 - 6:03 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2013 - 6:21 PM

A young Aboriginal leader from the Western Cape York says the Empowered Communities initiative launched by Noel Pearson and backed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week is far from empowering the grassroots.

Jack Wilke-Jans says he's an Aboriginal Affairs Advocate on his Facebook page and he says he's a conservative too. But that hasn't stopped him from being critical of the newly launched bipartisan initiative Empowered Communities fronted last week by Tony Abbott and Noel Pearson.

"No-one knows the process. I've spoken to LNP candidates who know nothing about it at all," he says. "No-one one really knows what's going on, it's very in-house. The consultation process has skipped local communities and local leaders.

Both the current Federal Government and the Opposition will support the Empowered Communities initiative with $5 million to develop further details on the plan for 8 communities across the country to "redefine the interface between Indigenous people and all levels of government".

The community leaders who have thrown their weight behaind the plan come from across the nation and include some of our biggest names, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Marcia Langton, Sean Gordon, Wayne Bergmann, Shane Phillips, Fiona Jose, Paul Briggs and Ian Trust .

Even though they are A-listers, Jack Wilkie Jans has misgivings.

"Nobody really knows what we're going to be expecting from it. If it were to be implemented.  Effectively it's privatisation of service delivery and with the education we're going to have further privatisation of remote schooling."  

And Mr Wilke-Jans is skeptical of Noel Pearson's track record when it comes to the apparent success of the Cape York Welfare Reforms.

"I know we've seen a lot of migrational crime...Our local Cairns members talk about a lot - that means the problem is now no longer in the Cape (York) but its still a problem."
 
The Cape York Institute's website details guiding principals for any  community wishing to join the Empowered initiative.