Warra-Ali resource unit business manager, Craig Cox; Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall; RDA Northern Inland Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson and Northern Region Councillor on the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Tom Briggs.
An Aboriginal Economic Development Symposium in Armidale, has just delivered the foundation for a major policy shift in the Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) in the Northern Region of NSW, towards economic growth resulting from new business development.
Through the Warra-Li Business Resource Unit and with the support of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, the region’s Land Councils are being equipped with the know-how for a bold new future. The intensive symposium took place yesterday (Tuesday, 29 July) in the Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club, with close to 50 representatives from member land councils and broader community members in attendance. It was the first day of the two-day Northern Region LALC forum.
There is a network of 120 Land Councils in NSW, with the Northern Region comprising 14 LALCs, from Coonabarabran to Dorrigo and Tenterfield to the Upper Hunter. Traditionally, these businesses have consisted of property assets and they have been self-sustaining, through rental revenues. They have recognised a need to expand and diversify, with new business enterprises. “Local Land Councils today are professionally run, multi-million dollar business operations, contributing to their respective economies and regionally. Their expansion would yield important flow-on benefits,” Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Executive Officer, Nathan Axelsson said.
“This is part of broader push by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council towards economic development for our communities. I was able to announce at this symposium that the State body is making $16 million available across the network to support this push,” said Northern Regional Councillor on the NSW Land Council, Tom Briggs. “Across our region, each Land Council has its own business plan and we also have a regional plan, which has helped to attract Regional Partnership funding and facilitated MoU’s with the likes of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland and UNE to capitalise on emerging ideas for business development and employment growth.”
“There have been particular barriers to employment and business development constraining Aboriginal communities. This symposium is an opportunity we have brought about to put those barriers in the past and build our own self-determining, economically sustainable future.”
A broad range of professional guest speakers donated their time to deliver specialist advice, from business establishment, regulatory issues to personal experiences. Case studies which both educated and inspired were presented by Armidale’s Andrew Murray of Keystone Consulting, Wes Sims of Consolidated Manufacturing Enterprise (CME) Inverell, Faith and Val March from the Booroongen Djugun Aboriginal Corporation in Kempsey and Sam Muller from the Ballina based Muller Enterprises. These accounts of diversified or expanded business operations featured frank insights from first-hand experiences.
Practical know-how on new business enterprise establishment was delivered by Shirley Kirk from NSW Fair Trading, Fiona Miron from Fox Legal in Armidale, Rod Williams of Gongan Consultancy (for Indigenous Business Australia), Ingrid Rothe of Vivid Marketing Services in Armidale, as well as Mike Creagan and Troy Smith from the Business Enterprise Centre in Armidale. Trade and Investment NSW also supplied resource material.
“I am confident we’ll see real outcomes stimulated by this symposium. In regards to planning, governance and capacity building, Land Councils of this region stand tall at a State level. We are now very well equipped to develop viable mainstream business enterprises that will create new jobs and financial strength for our communities,” Cr. Briggs said.
Northern Region Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) representatives at the Aboriginal Economic Development Symposium with Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall.
Tamworth’s Charles Lynch (Senior LALC Support Officer with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council) with Guyra-based MLC for NSW, Scot Macdonald.
The Walcha-based Amaroo Local Aboriginal Land Council Chair, Patty Davis and Deputy Chair, Bernadine Morris with Tom Briggs, the Northern Region Councillor on the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (centre).
One of the guest speakers, Samantha Muller of Muller Enterprise, Ballina, passionately motivated local land councils.