A collaborative CSIRO project supporting on-country Indigenous business development across northern Australia

The challenge

Building on Indigenous capability

Indigenous landholders have developed innovative enterprises across northern Australia over many decades. The Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia produced by the Australian Government outlines an ambitious development plan for the region.

Kondaparinga Station in North Queensland features a mountain of major ecological and cultural significance called Mount Mulligan.  ©ShutterStock

The government is now supporting a research project that tests the best pathways for providing scientific information and investment support to broaden the commercial development of natural resources on Indigenous land. The goal is to learn more about building Indigenous capability to attract investment to emerging on-country Indigenous corporations and enterprises.

Our response

Working together on developing Indigenous land and water enterprises

The project is a partnership between CSIRO, the National Native Title Council (NNTC), the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), and local and regional Indigenous corporations in three northern Australian locations. For each case study chosen through the NNTC, the partners are co-developing the scientific, Indigenous knowledge, and business opportunity information needed to attract investment. 'How-to-guides' showing the necessary inputs for building Indigenous on-country enterprises are also being developed.

The results

The case studies

The project started in late 2017 and will run for two years. It focuses on three key development locations:

Talaroo station in North West Queensland features hot springs.  ©Tourism and Events Queensland

Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation-Talaroo Station

Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation (EAC) holds native title over 2.9 million hectares in the upper Gilbert and Einasleigh River Catchments in North West Queensland. EAC owns Talaroo Station, a 31,000 hectare pastoral property and Nature Refuge with high cultural, environmental, and potential economic value that will be declared as an Indigenous Protected Area in 2018. EAC are supported by the North Queensland Land Council for this project, and are also investigating other sustainable enterprise initiatives.

Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation-Peedamulla Station

In Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation (AAC) operate the 225,000 hectare Peedamulla Station on behalf of the long term custodians of the area, Jundaru Aboriginal Corporation. Fed by the Cane River, the station supports a significant cattle business, but further development of available water would improve enterprise options. The Station also contains an emerging tourism business and a major contemporary Aboriginal Law ground. AAC wish to explore further income generation from the pastoral business while supporting Aboriginal custodians and other users of this valuable area.

Nguddaboolgan Native Title Aboriginal Corporation – Kondaparinga Station

Nguddaboolgan Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (NNTAC) represents the Djungan people of North Queensland, who have a customary estate that includes Nguddaboolgan (also called Mount Mulligan). The mountain is of major ecological and cultural significance and has a privately owned tourism venture on site. NNTAC recently secured native title over 182,000 hectares of land around the mountain, including exclusive possession of Kondaparinga Station. Supported by the North Queensland Land Council, NNTAC are seeking new enterprise opportunities in tourism, carbon, and bush food development.

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