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Indigenous business Snapshot reveals $16 billion contribution to Australian economy

David Prestipino -

The University of Melbourne's latest Indigenous business Snapshot showed Indigenous businesses it surveyed contributed more than $16 billion to the Australian economy, employed 116,795 people and paid $4.2 billion in wages.

The university wants data from more organisations across the country to better analyse the sector's massive impact on the Australian economy.

Researchers from the university's Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership partnered with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Indigenous data custodians to create Snapshot 3.0, Australia's most comprehensive longitudinal research project, tracking the impact of Indigenous entrepreneurial activity and highlighting the growing impact these businesses are having on the Australian economy.

University of Melbourne's Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership director, Associate Professor Michelle Evans, said that despite the large sample size of almost 14,000 businesses, many Indigenous enterprises were not captured, reiterating the enormous potential of the Indigenous business sector.

"On the current sample size, we have the best statistics so far, but it is only the next step in building the data," she said.

"What this research shows us is that First Nations Australians are pursuing business as a vehicle for economic self-determination in encouraging numbers

"The contribution of Indigenous businesses is not just the monetary amount – there is also the story of Indigenous self-determination through the vehicle of business, the local benefits of businesses - especially in regional Australia - such as employment and contribution to infrastructure, and the sharing of cultural knowledge, which is crucial to the world's oldest continuing culture."

The 2024 report released on Wednesday tracked the growth and footprint of 13,693 Indigenous trading businesses and corporations, providing the most comprehensive picture to date of the Indigenous business ecosystem.

Working with Indigenous data custodians, the research team mapped Indigenous businesses and corporations registered on Indigenous business registries against administrative data held by the ABS.

For the first time, the team was able to triple the sample size of analysed through the ABS Personal Level Integrated Data Asset, tripling the sample size analysed in the report.

"PLIDA has been a game changer because it allows us to identify Indigenous sole traders and partnerships; businesses that normally would not choose to be registered in Indigenous business registries due to their size and the cost of registration," Ms Evans said.

"A large percentage of these businesses - 56 per cent of sole traders and 78 per cent of partnerships - are in rural and remote communities.

"This is important because it is evidence of Indigenous people using business to provide employment opportunities for themselves and their communities, while remaining connected to Country."

Additionally, for the first time this year, the report tracked the survival rates of businesses through the pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 policies.

Dilin Duwa brings the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Business School Limited together to support Indigenous business

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