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Book highlights Indigenous business opportunities


Brigid Veale
23 February 2006
Developing small to medium businesses could provide a solution to the economic and social disadvantage suffered by Indigenous communities, according to a new book being launched today (February 23) in Darwin.

The book 'Indigenous Community Development and Self-Employment' was written by Southern Cross University academics Associate Professor Don Fuller and Dr Jeremy Buultjens, and Dr Myles Howard, who works for the Commonwealth Government. It will be launched by the Northern Territory Administrator his Honour Ted Egan AO at Government House.

Professor Fuller said the aim of the book was to investigate ways of improving the economic and social conditions experienced by Indigenous communities.

"The unemployment rate of the Indigenous population is at least four times higher than non-Indigenous Australians, and they are also under-represented in the ranks of the self-employed and employers," Professor Fuller said.

"This low-level of participation in the mainstream economy contributes to a range of social problems including poorer health, higher death rates and rates of imprisonment, and higher levels of substance abuse."

Professor Fuller said one of the ways of providing opportunities was the development of small to medium businesses, owned and operated by Indigenous people.

The book includes case studies of a number of enterprises in remote parts of Australia. It also looks at the role of the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme, started in 1977, which provides work placements for more than 36,000 people across 280 community organisations.

According to the book, the scheme was designed as an alternative to the payment of welfare benefits to individuals and a means of community development.

"One of the main aims of the book is to examine how the scheme contributes to community development and how it can be adapted to better serve that purpose," Professor Fuller said.

In the book's foreword, Ted Egan says the book "answers all the questions that confront First Australian communities as they struggle for cultural survival, and search in vain for the economic formula that seems to make white folks richer and blackfellers more and more disempowered and dependent".

The book, published by Central Queensland University Press, is being launched at Government House, Darwin, on Thursday, February 23, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.