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Doomadgee trial will prove to the rest of Australia the power of self-determination

Guest Author -

Despite what the white saviours and organisations that profit from Indigenous disadvantage say, the only way to close the gap is through a new supportive approach that empowers self-determination for First People.

In an effort to put community at the forefront of policy and funding in Far North Queensland, a new model is being tested in which community members at Doomadgee decide which programs to access and address the concerns of their community.

The new governance system will allowmembers to choose tailor-made and targeted programmes that are culturally appropriate for First People instead of receiving the usual standard mainstream offerings that delivery minimal results in closing the disparity gaps.

This new governance model at Doomadgee has been hailed as an Australian first, with the local First People taking back control of its government and the timing couldn't be better.

A recent study by Canada's National Observer shows that more than half of First Nations communities put in third-party or co-management ended up with worse results.

Although this particular study was conducted by researchers from Canada, there have been similar studies conducted by researchers from Australia.

For example, the Productivity Commission's Indigenous Expenditure Reports and Closing the Gap Report's discuss similar topics.

Finally, the reconciliation process is no longer just a symbolic gesture.

There are tangible policies being delivered to Indigenous Australians, unlike previous decades in which governments ruled with an iron fist and most of the money was going back into the government.

Now that First Peoples' wisdom has been acknowledged as well as their rights under the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples and international rights in general, they will finally have a chance to achieve self-determination and be in charge of their own fate.

The community has prioritised culturally appropriate learning programs, and unlike Western and Eastern societies that take on an academic and memorisation approach to learning, the First Nations community is looking at incorporating more practical traditional-based learning that can be done outside of the classroom that will allow students to learn and acquire skills faster.

Australian governments have ignored the maxim "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" until now but allowing common sense to prefial and supporting First Nations instead of working against them.

Even an old mentor of mineâ€"who used empowerment and continuous improvement management style to run his department across multiple countries for a technology conglomerate that was based Hong Kongâ€"was dumbfounded by the government's mistrust of and micromanagement of Australia's Indigenous people.

Based on his experience, trusting and empowering his employees was always the no-brainer solution that delivered the best results most of the time.

Although there will be challenges in implementing the self-determination approach, I have no doubt that other states will fall behind Queensland if they do not adopt it.

Here's to a new way of doing thingsâ€"for the better.

May anti-Indigenous rights groups remember that Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, and may they always remember that Aboriginal lands are unceded territory. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and founder of First Nations Lottery

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