Welcome to the ‘Showcasing Indigenous Business’ edition of business envoy, a quarterly publication by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that connects Australian business with insights from the Australian Government’s global diplomatic network.
Today, the Indigenous business sector is one of the fastest growing in Australia. Around 12,000-16,000 Australian businesses are Indigenous-owned, and Indigenous self-employment rates suggest this number will grow by around 2,200 by 2026.
This edition seeks to highlight the positive outlook for Indigenous businesses by showcasing some of the great success stories.
On the cover, we feature Bangarra Dance Theatre, which is celebrating its 30th year of sharing the beauty and power of traditional stories with audiences in more than 70 countries around the world.
Also profiled is emerging success story Gulkula Mine, in remote North East Arnhem Land. It is the first and only fully-Indigenous-owned and managed mine in Australia. Gulkula sent its first shipment of bauxite to China in May, and is creating job opportunities in many communities within Arnhem Land.
Australia’s first mandatory Indigenous Procurement Policy is also playing a role. Commonwealth departments have purchased over $1.084 billion worth of goods and services from over 1,000 Indigenous-owned businesses since the policy was introduced in 2015.
DFAT started its journey with MessageStick in 2011, one of the first times a Commonwealth agency had engaged an Indigenous business under a Commonwealth Procurement Rule exemption. More recently, DFAT has sought opportunities for Indigenous suppliers in the Australian aid program, with i2i Development Projects part of an expansion of the Pacific Mobility Program.
In the 2017-18 financial year, the foreign affairs and trade portfolio had 178 new and continuing contracts with 47 Indigenous-owned businesses around Australia worth $12.14 million.
This edition also highlights initiatives available to support Indigenous business, including the Liberal-National Government’s Indigenous Business Sector Strategy, the foreign affairs and trade portfolio’s Charter on Promoting the Interests of Indigenous Australian Businesses Overseas, and the Business Council of Australia’s Raising the Bar initiative.
I trust you will find this edition interesting and informative. Thank you to all contributors for sharing your personal insights.