Corporate Australia – helping to Close the Gap

15 November 2012

Warren Mundine is correct in saying that the business community has a positive role to play in addressing Indigenous disadvantage (“Indigenous need hard-headed approach”, The Australian Financial Review, 14 November 2012). Communities and government do not have all the answers, and companies have important expertise to share.

Around Australia, Indigenous organisations are already accessing that expertise through Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships.

Over the past decade, Indigenous organisations in Arnhem Land, Cape York, the Central Coast, Goulburn-Murray, the Kimberley and inner Sydney have benefitted from the time and skills of corporate professionals. Those professionals have come from companies such as Westpac, BCG, KPMG, Wesfarmers, Leightons, nab and Herbert Smith Freehills, and more recently, from the Australian Public Service.

That support has built the capacity of Indigenous organisations to drive real change in the communities in which they operate. The partnerships have also opened the eyes of many corporate executives to the scale of the challenges facing Indigenous Australia.

At the Wunan Foundation in the East Kimberley, corporate input through Jawun has been fundamental to the development of Living Change, a community-led initiative that seeks to re-establish individual, family and community responsibility, and break the intergenerational cycle of welfare dependence.

Real and sustainable improvement for Indigenous Australians requires each sector to do better and to collaborate. Communities and community organisations need the will to pursue change. Governments need to be bold and flexible. Businesses need to provide know-how and opportunities (particularly for Indigenous job-seekers). Everyone needs to pull in the same direction and, as Warren notes, be accountable on budgets, timeframes and outcomes.

Our view is that all parties are heading in the right direction, but a stronger, concerted effort is required to really Close the Gap.

Ian Trust

Chairman & Executive Director

Wunan Foundation

Topic: Foundations, Living Change