Inquiry focus on First Nations business success

Aboriginal business person. | Newsreel
A Federal inquiry will look into ways to support First Nations businesses. | Photo: Thurtell (iStock)

A Federal Government inquiry will investigate ways to improve outcomes for First Nations businesses.

The Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry aims to improve the economic self-determination and opportunities for First Nations Australians by learning about opportunities and impediments to training, employment and business development, as well as building the economic and social infrastructure to support economic prosperity in the long term.

In a statement, the Committee said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector was comprised of more than 12,500 businesses and their revenue was growing significantly faster than the SME sector.

Indigenous Business Australia noted First Nations business ownership grew to 4.5 percent in 2021, narrowing the difference to less than half of the rate of non-First Nations people who run their own businesses.

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Business Snapshot Study, which examined data over a 10-year period, highlighted that there had been a 74 percent increase in the number of Indigenous businesses, 115 percent growth in gross income, more than 22,000 jobs created, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses contributed at least $4.88 billion to Australia’s economy.

Committee Chair, Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba Senator Jana Stewart said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses were creating significant benefits for First Nations Australians.

“(They are) generating and growing economic prosperity as well as contributing to the wider Australian economy,” Senator Stewart said.

“Black-owned businesses are at the heart of creating a new generation of business owners who are growing networks, assets and long-term prosperity.

“Access to economic opportunities and participation in financial self-determination for First Nations people have far-reaching benefits. It is fundamentally important that we investigate the opportunities for improved training, employment and business development to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander industry and create economic, social and cultural benefits.”

The Committee will also explore leveraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual property, the Indigenous Estate and First Nations skills, and also examine the experiences of First Nations communities intergenerationally and around the world in fostering economic independence.

Submissions to inquiry close on Friday, May 24.