The Pama Way

Since 2017 more than 800 Cape York people helped to work out the steps we need to take in Cape York. We call this the Pama Futures agenda. It sets out a guide for structural change to put the power in local hands and supports communities put development plans in place. The Australian Government has committed to supporting pama get organised, get local decision-making structures in place to come to the table to negotiate agreements aground services and programs and investment in local priorities. From Aurukun through to Wujal Wujal and everywhere in between, Pama Futures backbone has been organising their community priorities and plans so they are in a strong position to negotiate with governments on the funding that affects them.

A look back at 27 years of the fight for land rights on Cape York


The beginnings

The beginnings of Pama Futures can be traced back to 2000 with the social and economic reform agenda realised through the establishment of Cape York Partnerships with the Queensland Government.                                                           

However, Cape York leaders have been agitating for change and demanding self-determination since the end of the church-run mission days.

For many decades, Cape York has led the way in regional reform activities, including several variations of partnership with State and Federal Governments.

The Summits

At the Palm Cove Summit in December 2017, Cape York First Nations people agreed to pursue a development agenda, where our people and communities and sub regions plan and decide how we want to use our land to pursue social and economic development for our people. The key to true empowerment and long-term change requires a significant and radical shift in the mainstream ideology of Indigenous Affairs Management. The Pama Futures agenda is that next step towards empowerment, self-determination and freedom for First Nations people.

What have we achieved

Joint Decision Making

Since 2017, over $20 million dollars of Federal Grants relating to Cape York and its communities have come before Joint Decision Panels.

Community panels have meet to review grants in their own communities – the only region of Australia where this happens. For regional grants, panel members have come from all over the Cape. From Aurukun & Bamaga, down to Wujal Wujal & Mossman Gorge, bama have made recommendations to change and improve services for the better.

Local Partnerships

PAMA Futures continues to build local partnerships wherever possible, helping to organise the community voice ready for negotiating with Governments.

Some communities have long term partner organisations, who have built or revising structures to empower their people’s voice. Other communities are just starting to build models which reflect their values and their aspirations. Each brings something to help the others progress:

  • Hope Vale’s AGYP formed as an early all-inclusive approach to community planning and decision making, giving strength and voice to the voiceless and vulnerable.
  • BBN at Mossman Gorge teaches us how to work with existing community organisations and help them develop into the empowered voice they can be.
  • In Aurukun, the local mayor and government has led the way in bringing the State Government into the process of empowerment, a major development for all the communities of the Cape.
  • And in Wujal Wujal, bama are meeting and consulting on their partnership model ready to form up and speak with a united voice.

Other communities have had briefings and are considering how to take the PAMA Futures agenda forward.

Development Planning

Mossman Gorge and Hope Vale are deep into the next part of the Agenda – determining their priorities and planning their futures. Each has had an extensive survey of the community and its families, led by its own bama. Each has had a series of workshops to discuss and learn from the results. Across the community people have come forward with opinions and suggestions, taking the opportunity to raise a voice which is finally being heard.

Soon their development plans will be written, and a true partnership with all levels of Government will begin. This is empowerment – the ability to represent their own voice and obtain the future they chose.

How far we've come

The power dynamics between governments and community have irrevocably shifted. We are now equipped to move to a full reform agenda across all of our communities, supported by Pama Futures backbone (local community members), local councils, mayors, youth, elders, Traditional Owners and other community and family groups.

Pama Futures is the culmination of everything we have learned so far. While Cape York communities are culturally diverse, we share one important goal – to create healthy Aboriginal communities that are self-sustaining and self-sufficient, culturally-rich and offer services that are community-driven and meet the needs of the community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are advised that this website may contain images and voices of people who have passed away.

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