About the presentation
Partnership approaches are often discussed as a determinant of sustainability in Indigenous community development. Historically, they have not legitimately equalised ‘power’ loci between Indigenous communities and programmers. This presentation explores how an innovative partnership model was used in the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) Initiative. The cultural skills and experience of community leaders were embraced throughout development of the Initiative at all points in time. Indigenous cultural metaphors, stories and songlines and more mainstream, evidence-based evaluation methods and approaches were considered to be equally valid and relevant, and were rigorously applied in practice. This approach to partnership, which was the foundation of all WCE processes, led to high retention of Indigenous staff members and amplification of community perspectives throughout project processes. Just as importantly, it led to a number of sustainable project outcomes relating to Indigenous aspirations for higher education being achieved. The Indigenous staff members concerned took on ambassador roles to support and encourage others in their communities to aspire to further and higher education. This work lays the foundations for a new, more productive and sustainable model of partnership within Indigenous communities. Although further discussion about practical considerations is warranted, the full inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in program processes has been demonstrated as an effective method to support Indigenous community leadership.