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NAILSMA Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia

  • Author:  NAILSMA
  • In December 2013, the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia invited submissions to inform its consideration of policies for developing tropical northern Australia. NAILSMA recently made a submission to the Committee, informed by over a decade of experience working with Indigenous people across north Australia.

    The central principle of NAILSMA’s submission is that innovative approaches are needed to ensure that the benefits of accelerated northern development reach Indigenous communities. These approaches will require Indigenous people to become key partners and drivers of change, with real opportunities to influence the design and implementation of high-level policies and objectives.

    Through NAILSMA’s work with communities across the north, Indigenous people have been calling for urgent participation in mainstream economic decision making, reinvigoration of local economies, job creation at all levels across a broad spectrum of local and regional industries, and creation of opportunities that are designed to attract localised Indigenous labour through improved education, training, and recognition of unique cultural practices.

    Current structures and processes, which attempt to fit Indigenous interests to frameworks developed by and for other interests, are not working to achieve outcomes for Indigenous communities. Instead, NAILSMA’s submission proposes an Indigenous Prospectus for economic development, based on Indigenous people’s investment status, and their free, prior and informed consent.

    The submission outlines a strategic plan for the full participation of Indigenous people across all stages of northern development planning and implementation, with measures ranging from the continuation of the successful Indigenous Experts Forum, through to the development of an Indigenous Land Use Planning Program and an associated Indigenous Economic Participation Fund. Establishing associated Indigenous working groups on Agriculture, Fisheries, Tourism, Carbon, Water and other Ecosystem Services will play a key role in reducing dependency and increasing the active deployment of land and other resources to create sustainable livelihoods in the north.

    Download the full submission An Indigenous Prospectus for Northern Development: Effective engagement, resilient communities, secure futures.

    Link to the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia webpage

    Photo: Future Generations Panel at the North Australian Indigenous Experts Forum on Sustainable Economic Development, Kakadu National Park 2013. L to R: Trish Maroney, Ricky Archer, Patrick Dodson and Peter Yu