My idea is to establish an exchange program between remote and metropolitan Australians that offers new experiences and peer support so participants can make the changes they want to see to improve their own lives and the lives of their family.

The exchange program is an invitation to all Australians to join the campaign to close the gap in health, education and employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

DEADLY exCHANGE would give Indigenous Australians living in remote communities the opportunity to shadow a mentor at home and work in a metropolitan area. This would occur after the Indigenous or non-Indigenous mentor they have been matched with gets to know the participant by spending time in their remote community. Participants would be carefully selected and matched based on their life experience and the areas of change they wish to make.

Empirical studies show the important role that social capital and peer-to-peer platforms play in improving socio-economic outcomes. The Indigenous Australians I meet are brimming with ideas for a positive future. Knowing how to grow or implement these ideas can be hampered by a lack of experience of what is possible and limits to the social capital that most Australians take for granted. For example, some Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia have not experienced the routine of children going to school every day, different ways of keeping fit and healthy, managing a household budget with regular income/savings, diverse avenues available for finding work, establishing a micro/small business and the avenues available for assistance and/or working in an office environment or other types of industries. Similarly, metropolitan Australians develop policies or undertake business in remote Australia without understanding the reality of life there. Others wish to expand their cultural awareness or are interested in discovering new ways of enriching their city lifestyle.

‘Deadly’ is an Aboriginal colloquialism for ‘fantastic’, ‘great’ or ‘awesome’. DEADLY exCHANGE will catalyse the change needed at the individual and community level to complement governments’ efforts to support reconciliation and put an end to the stubborn gaps in the life, education and employment opportunities experienced by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The design of DEADLY exCHANGE could draw on relevant aspects of programs that are already proving to be successful such as Churchill Fellowships, the Australian Volunteers for International Development Program and Jawun secondments.

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