News + Media


March 23rd, 2021

As philanthropy readies itself for the complex challenges of the future, we ask some of our key conference participants to reflect on its theme Future Needs, Now? By Fiona Jose

Fiona Jose,
CEO Cape York Partnership


When the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Australia on January 25th,
the Victorian and Federal Government activated their response plan. That plan changed as patient numbers increased based on the advice of Health and Medical services experts. No one knew then what the world would look like one week, one month or one year later, but as the COVID-19 disease changed so did the advice of experts evolved in shaping every Government’s response.

In the same way, the Government seeks expert advice. I too as a CEO, seek expert advice from those that are most affected by the decisions I make, First Nations people living in the communities of Cape York are my source of knowledge. From them I understand what I need to know today and what I need to know about the future. But we don’t call them experts in the same way we recognise the expertise of Health and Medical services personnel. I’d argue what the Future Needs, Now is that we should. We should recognise their expertise, their lived experience, their deep knowledge about their lives and the lives of those living in Indigenous communities right across Australia. Sometimes we ask, sometimes we listen, often we don’t but always we should. That’s what the Future Needs, Now.

What our community experts tell us is often said in ways we might not immediately recognise. It might be done quietly. It might be offered to us in way that we’ll only hear if we stop, watch and listen to what’s being said, how it’s being said and who’s saying it. Get this right and we’ll know what our communities need because they know what their Future Needs, Now. Do it wrong, don’t listen, jumping in, drawing conclusions that were never expressed and the disconnect between what was offered and what was heard will result is missteps, mistakes, misunderstanding and misguidance. We wouldn’t do that with Health and Medical experts so why should we do it with First Nations’ communities?

What’s your role in listening to expert advice?

If its advice from Health and Medical advice, it’s done without hesitation. If it’s advice from First Nations communities, how do you respond? If, like me, you rely on expert advice surely the more we ask First Nation’s people the more we’ll know what the Future Needs, Now.

Book your spot for the Philanthropy Australia National Conference 2021: what does the future need from us, now? Click here to register.

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