PAMA FUTURES Indigenous designed and led

Power in Local Hands

Pama Futures is the culmination of over three decades of Cape York leaders agitating for a change to the way things are done. First Nations people have remained the missing link in all the decisions that have gone before, with funding and other matters being decided thousands of kilometres away, in Brisbane and Canberra, and not by pama on the ground. For too long our people have been saying that they want a place at the table where the decisions are being made.


Pama Futures was born from an overwhelming sense of powerlessness felt across Cape York peninsula, communities being locked out of all the decisions affecting them. The overwhelming message that has come through countless summits and meetings time and time again  is that pama want a say in who delivers the services and how they are delivered. The grassroots understand first-hand the problems and issues facing their communities and why things aren’t working. Pama are simply asking for a seat at the table that hasn’t denied to them until now. Pama Futures provides a point of entry for community to lead these critical discussions affecting their future.

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



Since 2017 more than 800 Cape York people helped to work out the steps we need to take in Cape York. We’ve called this the Pama Futures agenda. It sets out a guide for structure change to put the power in local hands and supports communities to put development plans in place. The Australian Government is supporting pama to get organised, to get local decision-making structures in place to come to the table to negotiate agreements aground services and programs and investment in local priorities. The big focus is on how we do this.

These are the capabilities we must build in order to close the gap

The following list of 15 capabilities is our representation of the capabilities we believe need to be built within Cape York society. Pama Futures empowers and supports Cape York people, families and communities to turn these capabilities into reality. This is the next crucial step to facilitate better prospects for our people, to choose a life they have reason to value.


Prenatal Foundations for lifelong health

We start with prenatal foundations for lifelong good health, care and management. It all starts in the womb.

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Effective education from early childhood

We provide effective education from early childhood onwards to maximise our children’s potential and set them up for lifelong learning

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Strong nurturing families

Families nurture and provide for each other and have strong bonds of responsibility and care, parents give children good memories and set them up for the future, thriving in safe, prideful homes

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Villages with social capital, trust and participation

Our villages provide respectful and mutually contributing neighbourhoods, with a volunteering ethic to build social capital, trust and participation. Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community

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Villages with respect for norms, customs and laws

Our villages are places where there is respect for each other and people abide by our norms, customs and laws, and we are able to settle disputes and violence of all forms is strongly sanctioned

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Girls’ freedom and empowerment

We ensure the safety, growth and empowerment of girls so they realise their fullest potential and inequality against women is eradicated from our society

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Boys’ self-esteem and self-respect

Our boys grow up with self-esteem and respect for themselves and for women, all deserving of dignity and care

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Strong ancestral languages and rich cultural capital

Our people have the opportunity to learn and transmit to their children their ancestral language and cultural knowledge and heritage to preserve and grow our cultural capital

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Natural leadership and good governance

Natural leadership thrives and we are all free to participate in decisions about the future, organisations are well-managed and there is good governance at all levels

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Work for income and self-reliance

Every post-school person is able to work, including unpaid self-reliance, to sustain a living and there are jobs for those needing them, and mobility to go to places where jobs are

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Enterprise and industry

Every person or group that desires to establish and operate an enterprise is able to do so, and there is local and regional economic development and industries to sustain them

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Stewardship of land and resources for sustainable development

There is stewardship of the land and resources of the community, and we are able to use them for sustainable development

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Build tribal wealth for intergenerational equality

Tribes and communities are able to build their tribal wealth for intergenerational equity

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Vibrant accessible markets

There are markets for goods and services, property, capital and labour that are accessible and vibrant and which enable a strong private and cooperative sector to grow

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Infrastructure to sustain villages and the economy

There is necessary transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure to sustain the community and enable economic development

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Power in our voice


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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