Pama Futures represents the best chance we have to close the gap on Indigenous disparity in our region. It represents the distillation of everything we have argued for almost two decades, all of the lessons we have learnt, all of the policy arguments we have won and lost, all of the initiatives that have succeeded and failed, and all the learnings we have accumulated in this period.

We now know what needs to be done about closing the gap on our people’s disadvantage.

All over Australia there is a level of anxiety if not despair about the failure of our country to solve the Indigenous predicament as evidenced by the miniscule progress on Closing the Gap over the past decade. This year’s report by the Prime Minister to the parliament on the disappointing progress in reaching the targets that were set ten years ago not only tells the national story of failure but it tells the story of our regional failure to close the gap.

We in Cape York have constantly argued a new paradigm of Indigenous affairs is needed to really come to terms with the predicaments our people face and the reforms that are needed. Some of our thinking is challenging to Indigenous affairs orthodoxy in other parts of the country however there is also a great deal of resonance with what Indigenous leaders and organisations are saying in other regions, particularly those associated with the Empowered Communities initiative which we are part of.

Pama Futures represents our best chance to seize the reform leadership that has grown in Cape York Peninsula over the past 18 years and which commenced with our first act of regional self-determination when we established the Cape York Land Council in 1990, so we need to seize this chance with all the vigour and alacrity we can muster.