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ANZSOG’s 2021 Proud Partnerships in Place First Peoples Conference goes virtual

9 November 2020

News and media


Artwork: "Journey - Where we have been & where we are going" by Emma Bamblett


ANZSOG will host a unique virtual conference in 2021 exploring how public services need to rethink the way they relate with Indigenous communities and examine how successful partnerships have evolved and the positive results they have delivered for communities, particularly during COVID-19.

The past 12 months have been difficult for all of us and while many partnerships between Indigenous communities and governments have been challenged, genuine partnerships built on foundations of trust and respect have not only survived but been agile, innovative and even strengthened.

Launched during NAIDOC Week 2020, the Proud Partnerships in Place conference will bring together public servants, academics, not-for-profit and Indigenous community leaders from Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand to share ideas and hear from individuals, communities and organisations that have built partnerships based on trust and respect, developed policies and delivered successful local solutions. The conference aims to create a forum to amplify and spread this success and examine in detail the qualities that have resulted in successful partnerships.

This will be the third ANZSOG First Peoples conference, delivered with funding and support from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), and is a virtual version of the conference originally planned for Brisbane in March 2020.

Dean and CEO of ANZSOG, Ken Smith, said ANZSOG was excited about the focus of the third conference after the very successful events in Sydney in 2018 and Melbourne in 2019, and three Indigenous senior public service forums held in Canberra.

“These partnerships with First People from Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand and internationally have created the foundations we now hope to build on with the virtual conference commencing in February next year. ANZSOG remains committed to building the capacity and voice of First People in all public sector policies and programs to improve outcomes for all communities.”

The four-day conference will be held over four weeks – with one 3-hour event per week, commencing in February 2021. The first day will begin with a keynote address from a prominent speaker, to challenge and inspire attendees to consider the intrinsic value of authentic partnerships with First Peoples and set the framework for the conference. The program for the following three events will each host six speakers covering a range of topics related to: solving global challenges, structuring change and turning trends.

These panel discussions will showcase successful Proud Partnerships in Place case studies, and lessons learned for government/community partnerships that have enabled them to survive, be adaptive and thrive, despite environmental, social or COVID-19 related challenges.

Professor Tom Calma AO, co-leader of the advisory group on an Indigenous voice, which recently presented an interim report to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will speak at the conference on ‘Remaining Accountable’.

“Indigenous peoples in Australia have, since the intrusion of colonisation, called on governments to hear us, to do things with us, not for us or to us. The Voice to Parliament models currently under consideration are mechanisms to achieve this in meaningful ways,” Professor Calma said.

“They have been co-designed thought a process involving over 50 prominent leaders and sign off will not occur before all Australians have had the opportunity to consider the proposed models.” Professor Calma will tell conference participants about how Governments and Indigenous communities can make this work.

Sharon Nelson-Kelly, ANZSOG’s Senior Adviser First Peoples Program and Strategy, said the emerging advances in technology have enabled us to shift the annual First Peoples conference virtual, and create a forum to connect a wider audience to share ideas and celebrate successes.

“We will be providing attendees with a number of “face-to-face” conference experiences without the need to leave home, the office or travel inter-state. Audiences will be encouraged to talk informally with a ‘proxy networking’ event prior to each event and given the option of attending virtual breakout sessions.

“A virtual conference is affordable for more people and will allow for greater access, particularly to communities in remote or regional locations. Not-for-profit community organisations will be offered a reduced community rate.

“There will be no real progress in Indigenous affairs until governments listen to the voices of First Peoples and start to respect Indigenous knowledge and culture and include them in all phases of policy design, development and delivery,” she said.

“Many communities have been able to use their strengths to achieve positive outcomes. While the program is still under development, presenters from a range of sectors will share inspiring stories of their partnership journey and the challenges along the way. We will hear what has changed, and why, and what the partnership is delivering for Indigenous communities.”

“Communities can use their strengths and capacities to make a difference, when governments are willing to listen and share power in genuine partnerships.”

“We will hear stories of how partnerships have evolved, strengthened or done a complete U-turn as a result of post-COVID recovery and other challenges such as drought and bushfires, that have impacted significantly on Indigenous communities”.

“This conference is about making sure those successes and the resilience, courage and creativity it took to achieve them, are shared. We want to inspire people to look beyond the way things have always operated and think about what they can do differently back in their own organisation or community, working in partnership.

“This is not about developing and delivering policy that you believe will benefit Indigenous communities, but to give Indigenous communities the power to harness their knowledge, values and culture to address policy challenges that will serve them better.”

“Building links will be an important goal of this conference and we will be able to use state-of-the-art technology to give participants a chance to talk informally, as they would at a pre-COVID conference.”

The virtual conference is part of ANZSOG’s commitment to working with communities across Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand to prioritise and promote the perspectives and contributions of First Peoples to public administration.

Proud Partnerships in Place will build on the success of our two previous conferences, Reimagining Public Administration: First Peoples, governance and new paradigms in 2019, and Indigenous Public Affairs and Administration: Can’t we do better? in 2017.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit the conference webpage.

Artwork: “Journey – Where we have been & where we are going” by Emma Bamblett