Empowered communities: review of the empowered communities design report

Aboriginal Australians Community development Minority groups Self-determination Australia


The Empowered Communities: Empowered Peoples Design Report proposes a new model of Indigenous empowerment and development in Australia. The authors of this Report have focused on economic development to achieve Indigenous empowerment, with an emphasis on Indigenous individuals and families increasing their productivity (through taking responsibility). The Report sets out short term and long term goals for Indigenous development across Australia. Nonetheless, there are some inconsistencies within the conceptual and methodological frameworks used, raising questions of the overall logic of the Empowered Communities model, as well as its prospects for achieving Indigenous-led emancipatory development in Australia. This paper will raise questions relating to five areas in the Report and conclude that given the grand vision set out by the authors, it is essential that these inconsistencies are addressed.


The Empowered Communities: empowered peoples design report (Empowered Communities 2015) proposes a new model of Indigenous empowerment and development in Australia. This report is the culmination of work funded by a A$5000000 grant to the Empowered Communities network in early 2014 from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The report is authored by the Empowered Communities network, consisting of eight Indigenous groups from across Australia: North East Arnhem Land, inner Sydney, the Central Coast
of New South Wales, the Murray Goulburn region of Victoria, the Cape York Peninsula, East Kimberley,
West Kimberley, and the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the Central Desert region. Individuals from these groups were joined on the steering committee by senior policy officials from the Australian, state and territory governments, as well as senior business leaders and consultants. The authors of the report are unclear; at the start of the report, 10 individuals from each of the eight communities are listed, but not credited with authorship. The Wunan Foundation (leading the East Kimberley section) is listed as the publisher.

Elise Klein is a Lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Melbourne and was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, the Australian National University.

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