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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

Goulburn Murray:

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] Oratio

n 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.



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.



Ian Trust (left) and Paul Briggs, 2014.

Photo: David Rennie