The Cape York Agenda

“fundamental transformation through radical reform”

Noel Pearson, Executive Chairman Cape York Partnerships Welfare Reform

In 1999,  I wrote ‘Our Right To Take Responsibility’, in which I drew attention to the devastating impact of passive welfare on our families and communities. Since then, through the work we have done in Cape York, we have learned more about the nature of the crisis confronting our people and how to address it. Consequently, the time seems right to set out what we have come to call the ‘Cape York Agenda’.

The essence of this Agenda is the following:

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Cape York people have the capabilities to choose a life they have reason to value.

Economic and social development is about expanding the choices available to people. This range of choices is enriched not only by income, but also other capabilities, such as education, health and community. Development will require access to the opportunities of the real economy. But to make this possible, we must restore social order, attack passive welfare, and tackle substance abuse.

This will only happen if we exercise our right to take responsibility. We have to be as forthright about our responsibilities as we are unequivocal about our rights – otherwise our society will continue to fall apart while we are still fighting for our rights.

This is how we will deliver our future as a recognised first world indigenous people, retaining a culture which requires strong inherited and ongoing connection to ancestral lands, with the freedom to orbit into the wider world and return to home base again.

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