Collaboration across regions—Paul Briggs
and Ian Trust
Paul Briggs, Yorta Yorta leader from Goulburn Murray,
explains something many other Indigenous leaders
speak of: in a job you can’t turn off or turn away
from, the solidarity and support from other leaders
is vital. Paul met East Kimberley leader Ian Trust
on a Jawun Executive Visit, and Ian in turn visited
At the leadership coalface it’s constant—it’s not
so much a job as much as a role we always play.
Community looks to you and engages with you all
the time professionally, socially and emotionally.
When I went on an executive visit to the East
Kimberley, I saw the same happening with Ian
Trust. I could identify with it and we discussed it.
It was like a debrief for me.
Ian then came down here for our executive
visit and he and I talked a lot again. We shared
about responsibility, deep, deep responsibility.
Responsibility for the future, where you get
measured on whether you can make things better
for your people. And we also have a responsibility
to our ancestors, people like Uncle Doug Nichols
and William Cooper. You’re standing on the
platform that they built, and there’s a pressure
to use it wisely and be honest and honourable to
our ancestors, and our community, and our kids’
futures. We share all this.
Ian came for the [Dungala Kaiela] Oration 50
year too, and now wants to bring his wife and
come and spend a week or so with me, just to
socialise and understand Yorta Yorta people and
this country, get a break from his pressure he has
up there in Kununurra.
OAM, EXECUTIVE CHAIR, KAIELA INSTITUTE
It’s easy to become quite insular in your thinking
when it comes to trying to resolve the myriad of
issues you are faced with in your region. I visited
Shepparton at the invitation of Paul Briggs and
Jawun earlier this year, and—apart from going to a
region I had never been to before—was exposed to
a number of projects all trying to resolve the same
issues we are grappling with in the East Kimberley.
Paul is a respected leader in his region and like
me we don’t set out to establish ourselves up as
leaders, rather we just want to make a difference.
The strategies being pursued in Shepparton are all
trying to empower Aboriginal people to achieve
a better life, and the good thing about visiting
another region is that it enables you to get another
perspective on issues you may be addressing in
your region. This different perspective is important
not just from a project level but also from a
government policy and industry engagement
level—there are many examples of best practice
out there which we need to be aware of.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WUNAN
Ian Trust (left) and Paul Briggs, 2014.
Photo: David Rennie
5. SUPPORTING COLLABORATION 63