The Pama Way

Since 2017 more than 800 Cape York people have come together to help work out new effective steps we need to take right now 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 Federal Government has committed to supporting Pama get organised to be able to come to the table to negotiate agreements around services, programs and investment in local priorities. From Aurukun to Wujal Wujal and everywhere in between, Pama Futures 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 State Government.      

However, Cape York leaders have continues to agitate for change, and demand 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.

Our Summits Over the Years

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 could 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 we've achieved and what we work on

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 to 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 and Bamaga, down to Wujal Wujal & Mossman Gorge, bama have made recommendations for change to 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 structures to empower their people’s voice. Other communities are just starting to build models which reflect their values and 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 have led the way in bringing the State Government into the process of empowerment, a major development that can be applied across 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 held and hosted 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 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 that 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 one’s own voice and cease a future they chose.

How far we've come

Over the years, power dynamics between governments and community have irrevocably shifted. We are now more equipped to move towards a full reform agenda across all of our communities, supported by Pama Futures backbones (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 and Torres Strait 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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