In a historic move to enhance the engagement of the Australian National University (ANU) with First Nations people, on 23 June 2022 the National Native Title Council (NNTC) and the First Nations Portfolio (FNP) of ANU will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Marramarra Murru* First Nations Economic Development Symposium.
The Symposium, led by ANU and supported by sponsors comprising the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, BHP and Wesfarmers, will be a landmark dialogue that seeks to take public policy on economic development for Australia’s First Nations people beyond government programs to building a true, self-determined, First Nations economy that leverages the assets and rights that continue to be reclaimed by First Nations people. Those rights extend to land, inland waters, sea country and cultural and intellectual property that First Nations people have and continue to reclaim.
The intention of the MOU is to establish a long-term relationship of cooperation and collaboration through research and public policy development, to support and advance the aspirations of Australia’s First Nations Peoples across a range of mutually agreed areas. These include economic development which NNTC and ANU consider must be given much greater priority, and a focus on economic self-determination, if there is any prospect of shifting the dial on Closing the Gap.
“Self-determination, including economic self-determination, is a fundamental right of all peoples, recognised by the United Nations and by several international conventions to which Australia is party” states Gundjitmara Djabwurrung man and NNTC CEO Jamie Lowe.
“The Australian public need to appreciate how important equity in economic development is, not just for the future of First Nations people and their communities, but for the nation as a whole,” states Yawuru man Professor Peter Yu and ANU Vice President of the First Nations Portfolio. “It continues to shoulder a massive burden for the poor social and economic outcomes of First Nations people, and the lack of a formal settlement for the brutal dispossession and colonisation of our people.”
That burden includes the growing expenditure of Australian Governments to respond to disadvantage; the opportunity cost associated with not pursuing economic development on the Indigenous estate, now some 57 percent of Australia’s land mass; the fraught relationship between First Nations people and Australian Governments and negative international attention.
In signing the MOU, both Parties formalise their shared objective of extending their relationship to collaborate on specific projects detailed in separate research agreements.
Initially it is intended the partnership will focus on economic self-determination for First Nations People including the Indigenous Estate in a post-native title determination environment.
There is a massive gap in economic outcomes between First Nations people and other Australians. Rectifying this manifestly unfair circumstance requires a new strategic and national approach, combining innovative business models with progressive and significant change to government policy and legislation.
The MOU signing will take place on Thursday 23 June at the Marramarra Murru Symposium’s media table from 10:40am to 11:00am.
MC: Mr Bruce Gorring – Director – National Indigenous Business Development Hub, First Nations Portfolio, ANU
*Marramarra murru is a local Ngambri, Ngunnawal and Wiradjuri term that describes the creation of pathways.
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