Walk for Reconciliation 2000, Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo: National Museum of Australia

Nancia Guivarra has discovered some great Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses working in sustainability for The Fifth Estate in 2020, as part of our series on this topic. Here she pauses to reflect on NADIOC week and its meaning for all Australians.

NAIDOC week is an annual recognition and celebration of the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.  It’s a time to remember the historical treatment and the ongoing social impacts on First Nations communities. 

Since 1991 NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee that oversees the national celebrations supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) andmark the week with celebratory festivals, educational and cultural activities.  

NAIDOC week is normally marked in the second week of July but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year was shifted to 8-15 November. NAIDOC week provides a high level of visibility for many Australians to engage with Indigenous Australians. In this unusual year it opens up the possibility to engage virtually with many activities being held online, the potential to go beyond our own cities and towns has opened up online. 

I’m extremely pleased to have been able to find out more and write about great sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses working in sustainability for The Fifth Estate in 2020. 

As a former full time Indigenous journalist, I’ve keenly watched the rise of outstanding Indigenous business leaders and their activities get greater recognition for their talents and the innovative pathways they passionately forge. Each makes their own historical mark in their own sectors and paves the way for greater growth in the future.   

Indigenous businesses are flourishing across Australia: In this series we have focused on the activities of an Aboriginal architect, Michael Holmrek from NSW; the entrepreneurial work of former athlete turned businessman Brad Draper who is providing culturally sustainable social housing in NSW; Aunty Pat Torres who is maintaining culture and agriculture and with her cultural knowledge of native Australian plants and Damien; and Elsie Amamoo who shows us how Indigenous procurement provides greater opportunities for better engagement between corporate and government partners in business.

As Indigenous Australians we mark just over 50 years since the 1967 Referendum. It’s the historical milestone that created a cultural shift in Australia to change our Constitution and begin the commitment for governments and citizens to work towards better inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and ultimately equity in the fabric of our society. 

There’s still a long way to go, but in a very short time, there has been amazing achievements by Indigenous Australians in the face of great adversity. 

Following the Referendum a lot of that activity began in the 1970s with the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled organisations which provide great service to our communities particularly in legal and health services, housing, child care and land rights.  These organisations provided some of the first opportunities for our respected leaders to emerge.  

Indigenous youth were welcomed into Australian schools and went on to post school education opportunities and universities. In many communities, land has been hard fought for and won to provide an economic base for Indigenous people to build upon and native title recognised as a result of the 1992 Mabo et al High Court decision. 

Australians have also committed to building better relationships through the reconciliation process.  It’s been 20 years since we walked over Sydney Harbour and other city and town bridges in this nation to show our support. With the Black Lives Matter movement and an unusual year, it seems more Australians recognise the need for better harmony and relationships in our neighbourhood.  

Indigenous businesses are growing at a faster rate than other business in Australia

Business is another way that we can work together to create change for all. Indigenous businesses are growing at a faster rate than other business in Australia.

Indigenous achieves are found in every sector, even in business. The breadth of what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, individuals and consultants can offer is exhaustive. There are florists, travel agents, tourism operators, professional services, building contractors, architects, academics, caterers, wine makers, doctors, optometrists, dentists, judges, lawyers and doctors, cultural services, fire management land practises, astronomers, mathematicians, airport operators, pilots, judges  and even fully Indigenous fire brigades.  

This NAIDOC week The Fifth Estate challenges you to find an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander business in your sector to engage with. When you do, if you’d happy to share, send us your stories please, our readers are keen to hear them. Thanks for your interest and support.

Contact Nancia Guivarra at nancia@amneris.com.au or editorial@thefifthestate.com.au

This article is part of a series on indigenous businesses and was produced with the support of the City of Sydney.