But what does this kind of support and protection look like?
The current approach has difficulty producing locally appropriate outcomes as it is inflexible (incapable of adaptation to local contexts), fragmented (producing piecemeal outcomes instead of whole-of-systems solutions) and centralised and/or ‘top-down’ (the design and implementation process prioritises external decision-making structures that do not genuinely participate with people on the ground and outsource services to subcontractors) (Peter and Ayora, 2011, p. 6; Hunt, 2013).
Indigenous people walk in two worlds. Our cultural identity is vital to us, and education and training need to be provided so that it is not lost. At the same time, we need to ensure we are aware of the transversal world around us, so we can navigate through and claim both spaces for our self-realisation and liberation. Closing the gap is failing because the government are continually trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We do not all learn, speak or engage the same way.
Indigenous businesses are vital to addressing disadvantage and to building economic capacity – and they are the key providing much needed support.
Co-design and community controlled, community-led responsibility is the key tool for communities to navigate their own solutions, in their own context. True self determination comes from the ability to empower our cultural leaders and organisations to make decisions for our people. We are the experts in our own culture and practices, and therefore should be engaged, from the top, on what would work best for our people. To put it simply, the best way to support Indigenous communities is to empower us to help ourselves. Tap into the skills and expertise of the Indigenous business community. We are there and we are ready.
Closing the gap is failing because we have people making decisions on our behalf. The key to successful engagement and implementation is to move from consultation and information to inclusion and influence. The government need to respect and acknowledge Indigenous methodologies and paradigms.
Let’s be innovative in our education practices. Let’s embrace our first nations’ history and learn from the continual existence of the world’s longest living culture – and provide the support to keep Aboriginal communities healthy, because healthy people run healthy businesses, which support healthy families and communities.
IPS can help in this space, as we understand the need to provide an ecosystem of networking opportunities for Aboriginal businesses, linking capabilities to real opportunities across all sectors. Employment brings opportunities not just for an individual, but the ability to leave a legacy for a family and community.
We believe that taking the right actions and investment now will enable progress toward appropriate long term sustainable impacts to Aboriginal people, families and their communities. However, it will require a focused and planned strategy working through genuine democratic collaborative design (co-design) and self-determination lenses which provide authentic (community endorsed) capability and organisational development for all parties.