World Indigenous Business Forum

(5.30pm, Monday 22 October 2012, National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, Redfern)


Thank you for inviting me here this evening.

I'd like to acknowledge the original custodians of our land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present, and I acknowledge the people of the 200 nations who live in our city.

I would also like to welcome:

  • Rosa Walker (President) and Milton Tootoosis (Member of the Board of Directors) - Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, Canada
  • Dr Tom Calma AO - WIBF Ambassador
  • Mr David Liddiard - Director Corporate Connect.AB
  • and Tristan Wills - Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager, Corporate Sustainability.

Sydney is proud to be the first city outside New York to be hosting the World Indigenous Business Forum. There are more than 400 participants from around the world here with us - including Australian and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, as well as delegates from Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Guatemala. Welcome everyone.

Greater economic participation by the world's Indigenous peoples is essential to building strong foundations for good health, functional families and successful Indigenous communities. Indigenous enterprises contribute to intergenerational asset accumulation, they allow for direct participation in markets, and Indigenous entrepreneurs are often leading employers of Indigenous people and influential role models for younger generations.

Sydney is Australia's leading business and finance centre and the importance of economic development for our Indigenous communities, along with employment and training, is an essential component of our strategy, Sustainable Sydney 2030.

This blueprint for a green, global and connected city was developed after extensive consultation, with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community a major contributor to this process.

Both the Indigenous and the broader community told us they wanted greater recognition and celebration of Indigenous identity and culture. This has developed into a number of projects aimed at broad sustainability for the community.

Included in this is the identification of Aboriginal employment and enterprise as a cross-cutting theme to be expressed in specific targeted actions as part of the City's Economic Development Strategy, currently in development.

We will also be developing a specific Eora Journey Economic Development Plan to deliver a range of initiatives aimed at achieving equity of representation for Indigenous people as students, as employees at all levels, and as business owners.

Partnerships are vital to greater economic participation - and everyone has a role to play: the private sector, the not-for profit sector, the community and all levels of government.

Forums such as this provide an opportunity to learn more about what's happening in Australia and around the world, with practical conversations and a chance to build networks on a domestic and a global level.

Running parallel to the Forum is a Young Entrepreneurs Strategy for Indigenous business leaders under the age of 35. This is being hosted by the Australian Indigenous Mentor Experience and involves young entrepreneurs from Australia and from across the globe.

It's an exciting program - one in which everyone can share ideas, learn from each other, discuss their vision and connect. I would like to wish all participants a successful and inspiring two days at this year's World Indigenous Business Forum.