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5th National Indigenous Economic Development Forum strengthens business opportunities

The Torres Strait Regional Authority’s (TSRA) Economic Development programme recently supported a delegation of local businesses to attend the 5th National Indigenous Economic Development Forum at the Hilton Darwin, from 20-22 November 2018.

Attended by more than 100 delegates, the forum featured International keynote speakers, as well as guest speakers from across the country and provided a number of practical case studies from Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities.

Under the theme of, Going from strength to strength through businesses, entrepreneurship and employment, the objective of the forum was to look at the opportunities available to continue and advance the growth of the Indigenous business sector, whilst determining strategies to increase the current employment rate.

TSRA Chairperson, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said the forum was an important opportunity for stakeholders from Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal communities to discuss the state of the Indigenous economy.

“The Indigenous economy is one of Australia’s fastest growing economies, with an increasing number of Indigenous businesses opening up each year,” Mr Stephen said.

“Indigenous businesses contribute to Torres Strait Island and Aboriginal communities as well as Australia’s overall economy, by increasing investment and creating employment opportunities in the region.

“However, concerns still remain that the Indigenous employment gap continues to widen.

“Which is why mainstream organisations need to become better at attracting, recruiting and retaining Indigenous staff and leadership.

“As Indigenous businesses are more likely to employ Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people, it is vitally important to support Indigenous businesses in order to close the employment gap.”

The TSRA Member for Seisia and Portfolio Member for Economic Development, Joseph Elu attended as a guest speaker and also joined Eddie Fry, Chairperson, Indigenous Land Corporation and Chairperson, Indigenous Business Australia and Deborah Lewis, First Assistant Secretary, Community and Economic Development – Indigenous Affairs Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as a panellist for a discussion on - How governments support businesses that don’t comply with procurement policies’ requirements?

The topics discussed included Indigenous businesses’ support needs, examining government initiatives and evaluating their impact as well as collaborating across governments and communities to ensure support is effectively implemented and received.

The key learnings provided by the forum included strengthening the Indigenous economy by supporting Indigenous businesses, identifying business opportunities and creating employment opportunities as well as how to attract, recruit and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

The forum was a timely reminder of the importance of effective networking and collaboration to strengthen Indigenous businesses ahead of the new year.

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