In a world-first, Indigenous businesses have been invited to join the Commonwealth Games journey. This commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders hopes to build legacies for not only for them, but the first peoples of future host nations, as well.
Jessica McGrath reports.
When it comes to big events like the Commonwealth Games, often Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are only known for their traditional dances and arts.
But at Gold Coast 2018 a Reconciliation Action Plan will showcase different skills by Indigenous businesses.
The government says the community already has a world class workforce in South East Queensland.
Steve Minnikin, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Shadow Minister: “I think it opens itself to a range of possibilities, printing is merely one of them, transportation, printing, eduation, tourism, there’s a range of different industries that could take advantage of this.”
Job and training opportunities have been created for local Indigenous businesses, with more than 20 contracts awarded to deliver Commonwealth Games services.
Some, are already seeing changes.
Small business owners, whose indigenous heritage drives their work are now being recognised as capable businesses.
They hope these Commonwealth Games will be a launch into further opportunities.
Since joining the Action Plan small business owners like Karen Seage, who are printing and designing 2018 promotional products, have seen the confidence of their staff grow.
Karen Seage, Nunukul woman of Quandamooka Country: “Certainly our sales have grown a lot, not just with the Office of the Commonwealth Games, but because of them we have a lot of other businesses that are now dealing with us because they know they can trust us and will supply their work and they’re confident in using us.”
Through these opportunities, the business has supported local Indigenous youth through work-experience as well as other Indigenous businesses.
Forty per cent of her client base has now changed to Indigenous start-ups.
Karen Seage, Nunukul woman of Quandamooka Country: “The centre’s changing, its not just a print shop, we have a lot of people, that come in and feel comfortable, a lot of Indigenous people, who feel comfortable sitting here and talking about their business, they get really excited and they feel like they’re safe.”
Steve Minnikin, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Shadow Minister: “When all of the banners are folded up, and all of the medals have been dispensed and the people jump back on the planes and head back overseas, the real test of how well it’s been grounded will be that ongoing economic benefit.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games may end up being the catalyst that changes perceptions of Indigenous businesses in the region.
Jessica McGrath, QUT News.