Last week I attended a symposium, called Nyiyanang wuunggalu. The event explored what it means to meaningfully partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop effective policy and programs. There was much discussion on the day about place-based policy as something that resonates among First Nations Peoples.
For me, the symposium brought home the diversity of First Nations peoples and the difficulty in achieving a joint voice in Australia. It also made me wonder how I know so much about Finnish culture – where I only spent one year of my life – compared to Indigenous cultures in Australia, where I have lived for over 40 years. I have added into my own performance agreement to seek to acquire a greater level of cultural competency in the next six months and explore avenues with Indigenous colleagues and community to shape and reflect on my own working styles.
Sharing back my experience with the team, we reflected on how we can create policy advice informed by an Indigenous perspective. So far the project has not yet focused on hearing Indigenous voices and we are thinking about ways we can better incorporate First Nations peoples’ perspectives into applying the model of policy advice, tools and resources – and not just for policies designed for Indigenous Australians.
Many departments have started incorporating Indigenous Australians’ ways of working and involving Indigenous voices in different projects and policies. The CSIRO has several initiatives which seem to show potential for real impact.
So as we start this journey, acknowledging there is a long way to go, if you, or your area, are incorporating any First Nations Peoples’ ways of working or thinking into policy development, or you would like to give us some feedback or show us how to do this better, we would love to hear from you.