In recent years, the management of Indigenous affairs has been a topic of heated debate and concern in many countries, including Australia.

And while some nations have made significant strides in addressing the challenges faced by their Indigenous communities, others, like Australia, seem to be lagging.

The recent article “Putting government mismanagement of Indigenous affairs in the rear-view mirror: Ken Coates for Inside Policy” sheds light on Canada’s journey in this realm.

And it’s high time that the NSW Government, especially Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris, takes note of such success stories and implements lessons learned.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs must stop being a mission manager and start being an empowerment manager

Ken Coates, a Distinguished Fellow and Director of Indigenous Affairs at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a Professor of Indigenous Governance at Yukon University, delves deep into Canada’s paradoxical situation.

He highlights how, despite the perception of significant government intervention, there has historically been a lack of effective governance in Indigenous affairs.

But the tide seems to be turning in Canada, with Indigenous self-determining thriving, modern treaties reshaping governance, and Indigenous communities playing a pivotal role in resource and infrastructure development.

In stark contrast, the situation in New South Wales under Minister David Harris appears to be less promising.

Recent reports and criticisms suggest that Harris’s tenure has been marked by unfulfilled promises and a lack of tangible progress.

And the Aboriginal community’s concerns, such as the mismanagement of consultants in Aboriginal Affairs and the extension of contracts without clear results, are glaring examples of the challenges faced and sticking to the mission manager status quo.

So the question arises: Why is there such a disparity in progress between countries like Canada and states like NSW in Australia?

One key takeaway from Coates’s article is the importance of community-centric approaches and Canada’s shift towards re-empowerment of Indigenous communities, driven by Indigenous imperatives, is a testament to the potential success of such strategies.

And the emphasis on community control, autonomy, and economic independence gradually shifts the balance of power and leads to more positive outcomes.

This should serve as a wake-up call for the NSW Government and Minister Harris because the Aboriginal community of NSW deserves leaders who make promises and work diligently to fulfil them.

Leaders who understand the gravity of their position, the impact of their decisions, and the importance of community-driven solutions.

So while the challenges in Indigenous affairs are complex and multifaceted, the path forward is clear.

Under Minister David Harris’s leadership, the NSW Government must look to success stories like Canada’s and prioritise community-driven self-determination solutions.

Only then can we hope to see genuine progress and a brighter future for the Aboriginal community of NSW.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris must learn from success cases

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