Empowered Communities, launched in Murray Bridge, will provide opportunities for Ngarrindjeri | PHOTOS, VIDEO

A lack of job opportunities and too much dependance on government are among the needs Ngarrindjeri leaders hope to address through a new funding model adopted on Tuesday.

The Empowered Communities initiative will restore funding to the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority (NRA) and give local Aboriginal people more power to decide how public money is spent on Aboriginal services.

The initiative is backed by the federal government but led by Aboriginal people, including nationally prominent advocate Noel Pearson.

It had included only its eight founding communities until Tuesday, when the Ngarrindjeri community was admitted as its first new member at a ceremony at Murray Bridge Town Hall.

NRA chair Derek Walker called it an historic day.

"We're putting a process in place we believe will be able to emerge exciting programs so Ngarrindjeri can stand in their rightful place in this region," he said.

"We believe it's an enabler around our growth and development ... (it) will provide greater opportunities for us."

A lack of economic development and education and the needs of youth were among the other issues NRA chief executive officer Bill Wilson said had been identified locally so far.

He urged all Ngarrindjeri to fill out a survey which was circulating through local Aboriginal organisations.

"We're trying to hear back from our community about what are our current gaps and needs," he said.

"We need our organisations and the community to work with us.

"There's a lot of possibilities and opportunities that exist in the Empowered Communities space, and it's how we capitalise on those."

One such opportunity was that governments were now more prepared to listen to and partner with Aboriginal people instead of offering passive support and leaving them to their own devices, said Rob Ryan, representing the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

"We have to take our public service hat off, which is not easy for us to do ... but it's quite a liberating, powerful way to do it," he said.

"Government is not only open to that, but looking for that."

It was about supporting people to do what they thought was good for their communities, said another departmental representative, Sam Jeffries.

Major "Moogy" Sumner and the Tal-Kin-Jeri dancers, Harley Hall and the Deadly Nannas all performed at the launch event.

Among the dignitaries present were mayors, members of parliament and Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement Roger Thomas.


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