Indigenous people need to change their own destinies through empowering conversations, Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Andrew Smith says.
Mr Smith believes Aboriginal people should be aiming for self determination.
He and his colleagues have put this into action at Worimi land council - also known as Murrook.
The Murrook Cultural Centre generates enough income to sustain up to 60 Aboriginal employees.
"We've invested more than $10 million in the refurbishment of the cultural centre, with no government or taxpayer assistance. The money we make goes back to empower our community."
Federal employment data shows Indigenous people in the Hunter Region are almost three times more likely to be job seekers than non-Indigenous people.
Mr Smith said this would greatly improve if Indigenous people became "the authors and orchestrators of our own destinies and futures".
"We've allowed systemic and institutional racism to make us think we are nothing and that isn't true," he said.
He said Aboriginal people were "the first scientists, astronomers, builders of boats and makers of bread in this country".
He believes Aboriginal people need empowering conversations.
"We have to start changing the way we're talking as a culture," he said.
He was concerned that many Aboriginal people were caught in "an oppressive system of relying on the government" for jobs and welfare payments.
He said most employed Indigenous people were in government-funded jobs.
"These are jobs around social services, whether it's health, education, training, employment, you name it.
"Where is the independence? Where is the autonomy? We're still captured in that system and people don't recognise it."
Indigenous people shouldn't be waiting for the government to fix their problems, he says.
"That's like asking Dracula to look after the blood bank.
"Our people need to start realising they are strong enough, smart enough and empowered enough."
None of this negated that "we were dispossessed, oppressed and genocide was imposed upon us".
He believes services are needed for Aboriginal people, but the culture of relying on government must change.
"Our elders took the kicks in the guts on the smell of an oily rag for equality," he said.
"But the pendulum of equality, in some regards, has swung too far [in terms of relying on the government]."
The focus for young Aboriginal people should be getting "a great education and aspiring to do great things to change your destiny and those coming after you".
Mr Smith believed that attitudes, as well as systems, need to change.
"Let's not walk on eggshells around each other any more, trying not to offend."
He believes we need to move past divisive politics based on skin colour.
"You're screaming black entitlement and I'm screaming white privilege, so the government system has failed us both," he said.
"We need to stop this black and white nonsense, start having real conversations and developing stronger relationships. Only through that can we have proper reconciliation and connection."