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Inner Sydney Empowered Communities co-chairs Shane Phillips (left) and Chris Ingrey

Empowered Communities in Inner Sydney

Inner Sydney is a region where two Indigenous

communities, Redfern and La Perouse, have nurtured

strong collaboration through the Jawun partnership

since 2012. With Empowered Communities, this has

developed further.

By 2015, first priorities around aged care and early

childhood were agreed, and the following year, Inner

Sydney Empowered Communities was established

as the backbone organisation to deliver reform

programming. Funding was secured for a feasibility

study for the first Aboriginal-controlled aged care

centre in the Sydney Basin; family mentoring and

early childhood education and school readiness

initiatives were established; and a Keeping Them

Home regional strategy was developed to strengthen

support for parents and the restoration of children to

families. To date, eight community organisations have

opted in.

In a breakthrough in April 2017, Empowered

Communities leaders presented a development

agenda (‘pathway of empowerment’) to government.

This was the next step after the early wins of first

priority programming brought community and

government together. It provides a new set of

guidelines for government, government-funded and

corporate agencies to do business with the region in

a departure from the ‘deficit approach’ of Closing

the Gap.

To operationalise the Pathway of Empowerment, a

joint decision-making mechanism is being applied

by Inner Sydney Empowered Communities and

government. A radical innovation, this formally

enlists community assessment and Inner Sydney

Empowered Communities’ board approval in

decisions around organisations and contracts in

Indigenous communities, to ensure that

investments align with the region’s Indigenous-led

development agenda.

Inner Sydney Empowered Communities co-chair and

community leader from La Perouse, Chris Ingrey,

says he and other parents in his community apply

the principles of the model to their own families, in

particular creating intergenerational wealth through

reinvestment of human capital and opportunity:

I think of this Pathway of Empowerment model as

I raise my children.

Shane Phillips, Inner Sydney Empowered

Communities co-chair and Chris’s counterpart in

Redfern, agrees that the vision and collaboration

being fostered by Empowered Communities is

transformative, and reaches into the next generation:

I have seen the Redfern Aboriginal community

make so much progress through Inner Sydney

Empowered Communities, by working together

with La Perouse and getting the right things

happening in our communities. Together we

can build safe, strong, grassroots communities

capable of growing and supporting aspirations,

providing opportunities, and creating success for

our future generations.

Around 30 Jawun secondees have supported Inner

Sydney Empowered Communities

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