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Media Release: Indigenous people position their investment in the northern development agenda

Date: 
Monday, April 29, 2013

Second North Australian Indigenous Experts Forum on Sustainable Economic Development - 30 April - 2 May, 2013

Indigenous Australians from north Australia will gather at Kakadu to develop a position and strategic direction on leveraging their investment in future northern development agendas.

The second North Australian Indigenous Experts Forum on Sustainable Economic Development will be convened by Chair, Professor Patrick Dodson and Deputy Chair, Mr Peter Yu in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. The Forum will take place from 30 April to 2 May and is expected to host over 100 leading experts and practitioners from a range of industry related fields.

North Australian Indigenous people are significant investors in regional development with recognised responsibility for managing over 40% of the land in the north with further vested interests in well over 80%. The forum will provide an opportunity for Indigenous people from the north to craft a position that articulates their interests and values and highlights the need for Indigenous participation in any future government led development agenda for north Australia.

Professor Dodson said, ‘The First Indigenous Experts Forum (2012) has so far developed a policy foundation around key priorities for Indigenous wellbeing based on Indigenous interests and values. It is expected that the Second Forum will give attention to an action plan to move this forward.

‘The Second Forum is an opportunity for participants to consider how they can leverage their investments, together with those of governments and the private sector, to achieve the best socio, cultural and economic outcomes for Indigenous people in the region while ensuring sustainable northern development.

‘Mainstream economic development is not mutually exclusive of traditional Indigenous values. Sustainable development must be and can be underpinned by Indigenous people’s social and cultural positions.’

A key aspect of any strategy going forward is the serious investment needed to build the capacity of native title holders to effectively negotiate investments with developers to ensure sustainability and guarantee respectful and transparent agreements.

Professor Dodson said ‘We are in a critical time as focus to the north gains momentum. Commitment and serious investment in Indigenous research and development agendas will underpin shaping government policy delivery for Feeding the Future, the Asian Century and significantly, Closing the Gap on Indigenous socioeconomic disadvantage. Indigenous people in the north can offer serious investment in agriculture; tourism, arts and culture; marine; resource extraction and beef specific industries to meaningfully contribute to the national policy agendas and toward their own self-determination.

‘The Indigenous Experts Forum has been a valuable instrument to develop this understanding and hopefully one that will continue to lead the process to navigate investment among Indigenous land owners and managers, governments and private sectors to stimulate Indigenous socio-economic development and support sustainable northern development into the future.’

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