Johns Hopkins Philanthropy Conference Report
‘Communities, Capital and Collaboration – The Role of the Third…
Monday, 31st July 2000 at 1:07 pm
Last week’s gathering in Melbourne – the 12th annual Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy – drew a large audience to consider the topic of
‘Communities, Capital and Collaboration – The Role of the Third Sector in Strengthening Communities in Australia’.
The Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Civil Society Studies is a leading international centre for research and training in philanthropy in the US, and each year current and former academics are invited to meet for a Fellows Conference.
One of the key issues was how to be effective considering the changing nature of communities, and the shifting roles of government and corporations.
One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation by Noel Pearson, the Advisor to Indigenous Organisations in Cape York Peninsula who spoke about welfare dependency.
Pearson told the conference that in the past thirty years, Aborigines had gone from being used as slave labour to obtaining equal pay and ending up with passive welfare.
He says the current welfare state is like a viral infection that has resulted in disempowerment, where aborigines are resigned to being a miserable people.
Add this to an addiction to alcohol, he says, and the welfare state has torn their community apart.
Pearson told the conference there were three ways for progress. The first is the need restore economic reciprocity and this in term will lead to restoring social reciprocity.
The second is to change the method in which governments provide services. For example he told the conference that some $600 million was spent on infrastructure building services and just $1.5 million on setting up enterprises. Pearson says this needs to be completely turned around.
He says the third step to progress is to change the mentality that only governments can be accountable for Aborigines.
Pearson says the road to reconstruction involves developing responsibility for families, developing a real economy with economic reciprocity and by reforming governance, with the government as the junior partner; the provider or resources but not the doers.
The conference also heard details at its closing lunch from Mick Dodson about the launch of The Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre and the Llumbu Indigenous Community Foundation, two exciting new ventures to train indigenous leaders to Diploma level and to record indigenous language, writing and visual images.