Who we are 

Aarnja is the regional body for Kimberley Aboriginal people. Our vision is to empower Kimberley Aboriginal people, communities and organisations to have a strong Aboriginal identity and share in all of the social and economic opportunities of modern society. Our mission is to work with all parties to create innovative and sustainable opportunities that empower Kimberley Aboriginal people. 

We're leading the change from passive welfare to Aboriginal empowerment by ensuring a positive and strong Kimberley Aboriginal identity is fostered and sustained for individuals, families and communities. One of the ways we do this, is by collaborating with governments, NGOs and Aboriginal organisations to expand policies and programs that really work for Aboriginal people. We also support strong, independent Aboriginal organisations to work together through coherent and agreed Kimberley-wide governance and accountabilities.

We are not a direct service provider and do not compete for service provider funding for ourselves. Instead, we provide an interface, secretariat and facilitation role between governments and Aboriginal communities, service providers and leaders. Our key priority area is children and young people, and this has come from our members, partner organisations, community and leaders. Two initial focuses are: addressing the over-representation of children in care and developing the leadership potential of young Kimberley Aboriginal people. You can read more about our work here. Our constitution is also available here. 

Aarnja is also the backbone organisation for Empowered Communities in the West Kimberley. Empowered Communities is a strategy operating in seven key regions of Australia and it provides critical capability for Indigenous leaders as they work with their communities and partner organisations to identify local priorities, needs and aspirations. For more information, keep scrolling down. 

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Empowered Communities is an Indigenous-led, locally-driven initiative that aims to restore balance to the relationship between government and Indigenous Australians. It is a new way of working that empowers individuals, families and communities to create better lives for themselves by developing and leading change. Empowered Communities changes how Indigenous policies and programs are currently designed and delivered, so that they address local priorities. It is a vision for genuine partnership between government and Indigenous people so that we can work together to achieve two primary goals:

1)     Close the gap on the social and economic disadvantage of the Indigenous Australians of the Empowered Communities regions
2)     Aim to enable the cultural recognition and determination of Indigenous Australians of the Empowered Communities regions so that we can preserve, maintain, renew and adapt our cultural and linguistic heritage and transmit our heritage to future generations.

To me, Empowered Communities is a way to achieve the regional reforms that we have been calling for in the Kimberley region for decades. It is a way to work better with each other and governments, to create a brighter future for our kids and young people.
— Marty Sibosado, West Kimberley Empowered Communities

 

Empowerment means simply that Indigenous people must exercise the right to take responsibility for our lives and futures, and that in turn, the government has the responsibility to equip Indigenous people with the rights and supports necessary for this empowerment. 

Empowered Communities is brought to life in the West Kimberley through Aarnja; the backbone organisation that supports the regional Indigenous leader, Marty Sibosado to implement the reforms. Aarnja supports the West Kimberley Indigenous people to take back responsibility for ourselves, our families and communities, leading our own plans for change and making the important decisions about our future and the future of our children.

To read more about Empowered Communities and the other target regions around Australia, please click here.