Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 40: Unlocking the Economic Potential of an Australian Indigenous Community
Duncan Ord and Tim Mazzarol Introduction The impact of European settlement on indigenous Australia over the past two centuries has been signiﬁcant, and largely detrimental. Indigenous communities in Australia are still among the most socially and economically disadvantaged in the developed world despite substantial ﬁnancial investment by federal and state government authorities in indigenous education, health and housing programmes. This chapter builds on research undertaken into the economic impact on the Western Australian economy of the Noongar Aboriginal community. It suggests that the collective economic value of this community is signiﬁcant, but remains trapped in a welfare paradigm when a pragmatic economic approach is required. The reconciliation dilemma Economic and social disadvantage within the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander indigenous communities is signiﬁcant, with higher rates of unemployment, underemployment, welfare dependency and chronic health problems than any other group within Australian society (Foley, 2003). Contrary to popular perception the indigenous population in Australia is highly urbanized, with around 73 to 75 per cent living in major cities or regional centres (Altman, 2000; MCATSIA, 2004). Although a minority of indigenous communities follow traditional, subsistence lifestyles, the majority seek to participate in the mainstream economic and social frameworks of contemporary Australia. Yet, despite this need and desire for mainstream economic participation, the pattern of labour force participation among indigenous communities has been one of decline (Taylor, 2003). The social and economic disadvantage of indigenous Australian communities blights an otherwise admirable economic and social track record for Australia, and...
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