The work of the National Empowerment Project is underpinned by a set of principles
developed in consultation with each of the Community Co-researchers. These principles guide the
way that we work with our communities.
1. HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
We, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights. We know and recognise our human rights and attaining social justice is part of our ongoing healing process. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to be treated as equals, to have cultural difference recognised and to be respected. We also have the right to have a voice and to be heard.
2. COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP
Our work must be grounded in community, that is, owned and guided by community. Our work needs to be sustainable, strength based and needs to build capacity around local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Our work should be a process that involves: acknowledging what the people of local communities are saying; and acknowledging community values and beliefs. All mobs in a ‘community’ need to have leadership to control their lives and have pride over what belongs to them. Our work will share learnings with all those involved and these should be promoted in other communities. Our Projects should be sustainable both in terms of building community capacity and in terms of not being ‘one off’; they must endure until the community is empowered. Part of our mandate is to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and community members with tools to develop their own programs.
3. COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING
There will be an ongoing cycle of developing, training, supporting, and engaging community members as partners. We will ensure that we feedback, mentor and support our communities when we collect information. We will remember and understand that this project has started from grass roots up and we need to keep the wheel turning with a continuous feedback.
4. RESILIENCE FOCUSED
It must be recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have great strengths, creativity and endurance and a deep understanding of the relationships between human beings and their environment (SHRG, 2004, p.9). There is great strength in each person and in the whole of our communities. From the life experiences and strengths of our ancestors, our Elders, past and present, and from our own life experiences, there is wisdom and strength. We will nurture and pass our knowledges and strengths for the next generations. Our work will enable us to develop understandings and skills that will strengthen the leadership of our communities.
5. EMPOWERMENT & PARTNERSHIP
We will develop respectful partnerships with local community organisations in whatever area we work in. Genuine partnerships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and other providers will ensure that we support and enhance existing local programs, not duplicating or competing with them. Our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as key partners will be respectful, genuine, supportive and will include advocacy.
6. RESPECT FOR LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
We will respect local communities, local ways of being and doing. Local community knowledges include local culture, stories, customs, language and land. We will also have awareness of the differences within and between the communities themselves. Our work will ensure that the local knowledges of communities are respected and heard. We will work in ways that respect and value our community and will work to ensure that their goals are foremost. We will work towards the self-determination of our communities.