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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) have gone bush Some of our biggest businessmen to get their hands dirty most remote communities. in one of the country's from the big end of town It's a long way to the red dust of Aurakun, and it was no pleasure trip most powerful leaders. for some of Australia's So what's it all about? on a fact-finding mission James Thomas reports that's left a lasting impression. This is a lot bigger than yours. can afford and love to do. are the sort of things billionaires That's a cracker, mate. to Aurukun to fish. But Gerry Harvey didn't come of giving them money We've gone through all these years completely wasted. and it's just wasted, on the far north-west of Cape York, A remote Aboriginal community for Aboriginal affairs. Aurukun is a flashpoint and welfare dependency. A history of dysfunction, violence gone through 50 years, at least, I just don't understand why we've of being so stupid. I can't understand. trying to lift this dusty outpost Hundreds of millions have been spent from the depths of despair. But cash handouts are not working. Something else is needed is not the only big name and Gerry Harvey a more hands-on approach. travelling a long way to advocate small, personal attempt This is my own to do what I can to help Aboriginal people Australians in their own country. to feel like they are first-class Australians to sign a cheque - It's easy for first-class instead, this is hands on - renovating Aurukun's library. at the coalface, leading business identities Tony Abbott invited the country's to join locals and pitch in. "Would you like to come up?" Oh, yeah, well, he rang me, he said, You do. When you get a call like that... Yeah. of Wesfarmers, Richard Goyder is the CEO with 200,000 people on its payroll. Australia's biggest employer and his wife, Katie, He joins Gerry Harvey Fortescue CEO Nev Power, Graham Hodges, the number two at ANZ, Australia Bank, Michael Chaney the chairman of the National Elizabeth Henderson. and Westpac director Warren Mundine Former ALP national president the most high-powered working bee rounded out Australia has ever seen. called 'sweat equity'. And they're all buying into an idea is having some skin in the game, The essence of sweat equity financial skin. only it's not necessarily It's in line with welfare reforms Noel Pearson. initiated by Aboriginal statesman but Gerry Harvey gets the idea. He was missing due to illness, with giving people things. I don't agree people have got to work for things I think and they have got to aspire. they aspire to a great life Those little black kids, in any country in the world does. just as much as any kid to read that sentence for me. I'd like this group over here the kids are getting a chance. And now, a family's welfare can be managed In Aurukun, send their kids to school. if they don't Direct Instruction, That and a new teaching method, from 30% to 70% has seen attendance rates rise in just a couple of years. Shake their hand and say thank you. continue to educate the kids here. Direct Instruction will likely when they grow up? But will there be jobs for them a Harvey Norman shop here, mate. I am going to open to Indigenous people, I am only going to employ and I am only going to sell guaranteed. and I'm gonna make no money, cuts to a serious problem. Gerry's joke in Aurukun. There is still no real economy but education remains the key Mining will offer some jobs, and a new library is a start. has a future in Aurukun. All agree that 'sweat equity' This is what is required and help to grow families, where we all pitch in and grow a better nation. grow communities