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Indigenous roundtable aims to help Close the Gap

Dechlan Brennan -

Aboriginal business owners have met with their Māori counterparts for a cultural exchange of ideas around how to best grow Indigenous businesses.

The fourth Aboriginal Business Roundtable on Closing the Gap was the first time businesses have come together in this way; facilitated by NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty David Harris and NZ Consul General, Bill Dobbie

Mr Harris said the NSW government was committed to Closing the Gap.

"We acknowledge that to close the gap, Aboriginal people must determine, drive and own their own future," he said.

"More than ever, Aboriginal people are seeking to achieve economic independence through business creation."

The roundtable discussed how 'trans-Indigenous' trade had been able to evolve over centuries. There was also hope that the new era of collaboration would only improve and unlock new opportunities for Indigenous businesses throughout the global marketplace.

The participants shared knowledge whilst the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) offered "practical advice" on methods to expand business for overseas markets.

"Aboriginal businesses want to grow and expand into new markets, and the NSW Government is keen to support these businesses on this journey," Mr Harris said.

"This roundtable is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and Māori business entrepreneurs to forge connections and create business ties and networks."

He said initiatives like the roundtable offered a tangible way to close the gap in real and sustainable terms whilst also driving change.

A statement said the NSW government "recognises a thriving Aboriginal business sector is essential for economic self-determination and Closing the Gap."

"NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia that has an additional priority reform to Close the Gap on employment, business growth and economic prosperity."

The government said a feature of Closing the Gap was convening Aboriginal businesses directly in roundtables so they can discuss the challenges they face when entering, growing and thriving in the business sector.

First Nations people in Australia between ages 25 and 64 suffered over 40 per cent unemployment - up 14 per cent since 2001- compared to just under 25 per cent for non-Indigenous people.

Australian government data shows the number of Indigenous businesses grew between 2006 and 2016 to 11,587, however this is still below the rate of non-Indigenous people.

Indigenous businesses only represent less than 0.8 per cent of the 2.1 million businesses nationwide.

October is Indigenous Business Month, with Australia's First Nations communities being called 'To Gather, together'.

For more information on Closing the Gap and Aboriginal Business Taskforce visit NSW Aboriginal Affairs


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