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Self-determination at Murdi Paaki
The Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly (MPRA) is the peak structure representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across 16 communities in western New South Wales. MPRA see self-determination as the key success to their governance model. Their model demonstrates true community control as the Aboriginal people of the region determine the composition of their local CWP, they choose the methods to bring that model together and they choose who represents them on the Regional Assembly. People volunteer their time and those who participate are genuinely interested in making a change for their communities. The model is evolutionary; it’s not competitive leadership but a traditional style of leadership where leadership roles are earned through respect, integrity and transparency.
For the MPRA, this self-determination is what makes its governance model so effective:
“The key to the way forward is in the concepts and rights that we have implied into the terms ‘self- determination’ and ‘sovereignty’ when we use those words to describe a vision of what we would like our communities to be like and the way we want to live our lives as Indigenous peoples. The starting point for self- determination and Aboriginal sovereignty is the way in which it is expressed by Indigenous peoples at a grass- roots level. It is a bottom- up, rather than top- down approach … The focus of our commitment is to strengthen the role and participation of the 16 major and seven smaller communities in regional decision- making and service delivery in ways more directly relevant to the circumstances of the region’s Aboriginal people and to improve outcomes for them.”
The MPRA has grown since its inception in 2004. It has expanded to provide an extensive range of functions that aim to improve the economic, cultural and social status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities across their service region. As a result, many other MPRA organisations have been created. These incremental initiatives have allowed the MPRA to gradually assert and exercise self-governance.1Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, “Charter of Governance,” September 2015, 6, [link]
Read more about MPRA’s goal of self determination and Aboriginal sovereignty in their Charter of Governance.