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The challenge

Closing the gap on Indigenous economic benefits

Indigenous Australians are now recognised as sole or co-owners of over 40 per cent of the Australian continent, and this number continues to grow.

Indigenous land managers and CSIRO researchers co-developing ideas for enterprise development and land management. ©  Michael Douglas

This relatively rapid shift is providing an unprecedented opportunity for development of land and sea country to play a significant role in closing the gap on Indigenous economic participation, leadership, and benefits.  However, there are a variety of barriers that may limit these goals from being fully realised.

Development must proceed based on Indigenous goals and definitions of sustainability and community well-being, and information to investigate development pathways must be drawn from Indigenous science and knowledge in addition to what many would see as more mainstream approaches.

This requires a merging of different knowledge systems to an extent that Australia has yet to fully experience – including merging of governance systems, collaboration methods, intellectual property protection, as well as use of scientific evidence to evaluate development options.

Indigenous people must have access to the resources needed to lead or co-lead these processes, and wider society must have the capacity to support and enable Indigenous-led approaches.

Our response

Building the capacity, roadmaps and options for Indigenous-led development

We work with Traditional Owners and Indigenous entrepreneurs to identify value-creation opportunities on land and water estates, and co-design the research and investment roadmaps that will enable the development of on-country enterprises.

Yirralka Ranger and artist, Gurrundul Marawili.

Most importantly, we bring an integrated science approach, and thus combine the development of these science-based prospectuses with applied research on how to foster the two-way capacity-building needed to break down barriers, integrate knowledge systems, and ensure success.

Thus, we build long-term networked relationships and design and facilitate collaborative governance mechanisms.

We develop brokering tools for supporting cross-cultural conversations and decisions.  And we co-create the planning frameworks and tools that reveal and build on Indigenous knowledge, values and priorities – not just for application on formal Indigenous estates but to help all Australians integrate Indigenous perspectives into management of the lands we all share.

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