Jobs Events Advertise

Steer clear of Indigenous politics and trust verbal deals: business owner's steps to being an ally

Tom Zaunmayr -

A Geraldton business owner has outlined his key steps to becoming a good Indigenous ally in a forum address canvassing contracts, trust and Indigenous politics which had the crowd in stitches.

Craig Patterson grew Centrals Earthmoving from the ground up in the Mid West and has always held a mantra of employing Indigenous people spurred by experiences he witnessed growing up.

Mr Patterson recounted his own story growing up in Morawa and moving to Perth with an Indigenous friend, where he saw firsthand how racism robbed his mate of opportunities.

That experience led Mr Patterson to take in initiatives such as lobbying for Clontarf to come to Geraldton and starting the Bayalgu training program which has helped more than 150 young Aboriginal people.

This regional shire wants the same procurement policy as the State

Speaking at the Mid West Aboriginal Business Forum in Geraldton on Thursday, Mr Patterson said it was incumbent on young Indigenous people to grasp opportunities their Elders had fought hard for.

"There is a huge responsibility on those people to keep the journey going for future generations," he said.

Speaking to some of the nuances of working with Indigenous people, Mr Patterson said business owners who were not genuine in their intentions would quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the bush telegraph.

"Aboriginal people will watch you and see what you do and how you act, and what it is critical to do is ensure your sincerity will be checked and tested," he said.

Centrals Earthmoving managing director Craig Patterson.

"This mob have got an unbelievable communication network.

"That network and gut reaction is something you need to trust."

On contracts, Mr Patterson said it was important for business owners to understand the importance of verbal deals for Indigenous people.

Conversely, he said many Aboriginal start-ups needed to learn for many businesses a deal wasn't a deal until it was signed on paper.

"For Aboriginal people what you say is a contract and you will be held to account for that," Mr Patterson said.

"For some Aboriginal people the written word doesn't have the same meaning as the verbal word and they are prepared to walk away if it doesn't work.

"I often see too the written word for some Aboriginal people is seen as a bit of a mistrust."

Mr Patterson urged business owners to steer clear of engaging with Aboriginal politics, which he said made Canberra "look like a garden party".

He also urged an end to lateral violence among Indigenous people, describing working together as critical to grow the Indigenous business sector.


CSIRO grant helps blend Aboriginal traditions with agricultural innovation
In a fusion of Indigenous wisdom and cutting-edge technology, Darryl Lyons, a respected Maiawali man, and inventor Mic Bla...
Zak Kirkup 1 Mar 2024
Court finds Youpla misrepresented itself as an Aboriginal-owned or managed company
The collapsed funeral fund Youpla misrepresented itself as Aboriginal owned or managed, the full Federal Court ruled on Thursday...
Dechlan Brennan 29 Feb 2024
Clean energy toolkit launched to drive sustainable development
In a year-long effort, the recently unveiled Community Energy Planning Toolkit presents a seven-step guide for First Nations com...
Joseph Guenzler 29 Feb 2024
Warren Mundine "confident" copper explorer Fuse can hit float target despite $1.5 million gap
Warren Mundine says he is confident the minerals exploration company he chairs is on track to raise the minimum $6 million requi...
David Prestipino 29 Feb 2024

   Tom Zaunmayr   

Roebourne's emerging business scene recognised at annual Pilbara awards ceremony
Ieraramagardu's (Roebourne) burgeoning local economic scene has been recognised at the largest annual Pilbara business awards....
Tom Zaunmayr 9 Nov 2022
Leading news role opens up as National Indigenous Times eyes further east coast growth
A rare opportunity to play a leading editorial role in a rapidly expanding news organisation has been created at the National In...
Tom Zaunmayr 8 Nov 2022
Know an emerging leader in your community? Nominate them for WA's Young Achiever Awards
West Australians are being urged to nominate young Indigenous champions who have made a difference to their community for a majo...
Tom Zaunmayr 4 Nov 2022
A family and a team - Badu Island rugby league outfit playing for more than pride and trophies
Badu Island may be a speck on the Australian landscape, but at the Mackay Indigenous Rugby League Carnival, a Zenadth Kes (Torre...
Tom Zaunmayr 3 Nov 2022