Skip to content

ANZSOG’s 2020 First Peoples conference to celebrate proud partnerships

26 February 2020

News and media


"Journey" by Emma Bamblett

UPDATE: The Proud Partnerships in Place: ANZSOG First Peoples’ Public Administration Conference scheduled for 26-27 May 2020 has been deferred until a later date as a result of the changing issues relating to the response to the coronavirus. Those who have already registered for the conference will be offered a full refund or the option to retain their registration for the deferred conference at the 2020 rate. A new date for the conference will be communicated soon.

The conference theme will remain the same, providing an opportunity for participants to think beyond the way things have always operated and consider how First Peoples’ knowledge can be combined with community decision-making to meet the challenges of a changing world.

If you have any queries, please contact Sharon Nelson-Kelly, Senior Adviser, First Peoples on firstpeoples@anzsog.edu.au.

Genuine partnerships between governments and Indigenous communities are leading to more innovative, place-based policy and better outcomes.

The Proud Partnerships in Place: 2020 ANZSOG First Peoples’ Public Administration Conference will examine the need for public services in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand to rethink the way they relate with First Peoples, and explore the factors behind successful partnerships.

The conference will be held in Brisbane from 26-27 May on the land of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples.

The conference will provide a forum for public servants, academics, not-for-profit and Indigenous representatives to share ideas and hear from individuals, communities and organisations that have built partnerships and delivered successful policy. It will examine how Indigenous knowledge can be used to address national and global challenges in an environment of constrained resources and environmental threats.

Speakers will include Aboriginal barrister and academic Mick Dodson, head of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Chris Sarra and deputy CEO of the National Indigenous Australians Agency Professor Ian Anderson.

More speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith said that the conference comes at a time when governments and First Peoples are working together on issues around Treaty, recognition and partnerships.

“ANZSOG recognises that there will be no lasting progress in Indigenous Affairs until the voices of First Peoples are listened to, and Indigenous knowledge and culture are respected and included in all phases of policy development,” he said.

“This is the third conference ANZSOG has held on Indigenous Affairs and, like the first two, this will challenge participants to think beyond the way things have always operated and consider how First Peoples’ knowledge can be combined with community decision-making to meet the challenges of a changing world.”

The importance of partnerships has emerged as a topic of discussion at previous conferences with Lil Anderson, Chief Executive, Te Arawhiti – Office for Māori Crown Relations, asking last year’s conference: “We talk about partnership, we talk about engagement, but are we really clear on what that means?”

Marcia Langton’s keynote address at the 2019 conference called for more power to be given to Indigenous communities, and to give them the chance to set their own priorities for working with government.

Partnerships to drive reform and accountability

Dr Sarra took part in ANZSOG’s Indigenous Public Servant Forum in November 2019 and said that Queensland was reframing relationships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to make them more effective and help governments do things “with” rather than “to” Indigenous communities.

“We need to move to better quality relationships. Move away from Aboriginal health and education, and leave those to the health and education departments, but build partnerships that will make those departments do their jobs better,” he said.

He said the future of Indigenous policy was about building high expectations relationships – where communities and service providers were accountable.

“In those circumstances there is nowhere for anybody to hide – communities can’t sit back and say it is the government’s fault, and governments can’t sit back and say ‘oh communities are so complex, it’s difficult to make change’,” he said.

Professor Anderson spoke at the same ANZSOG forum about the journey in Indigenous policy across the past 40 years and said that it was “at the top of the curve of a major transformation in how we change leadership in our organisations”.

He said that governments needed to build a new set of shared capabilities, an area where they had previously not performed well, and turn the idea of working in partnership with Indigenous communities into reality.

“We need to do more than manage grants, we need to build relationships, develop the idea of place-based approaches,” he said.

Registrations for Proud Partnerships are now open. ANZSOG will also offer limited subsidised travel for Indigenous representatives from remote and regional locations to attend.

ANZSOG’s inaugural First Peoples’ conference Indigenous Affairs and Public Administration: Can’t We Do Better? was held in 2017 at the University of Sydney, and provided a space for academics, practitioners and Indigenous representatives to speak frankly, explore new ideas and discuss better ways of engaging with Indigenous communities.

ANZSOG built on this success with the Reimagining Public Administration: First Peoples, governance and new paradigms conference, held at Melbourne’s Federation Square on 20-21 February 2019.