Eddie Fry: unlocking the economic potential of the Indigenous Estate

SPEECH: The narrative of “wicked problems” used by some in government departments belies the transformative opportunities of the Indigenous Estate. A sharper business focus on existing tangible and cultural assets can help build intergenerational wealth.

It was in early 2015 that I was watching TV on a Sunday and purely by chance caught an Indigenous person talking about “The Indigenous Estate”. I hadn’t heard of this — “The Indigenous Estate”. What was this? I had not long before been appointed chair of Indigenous Business Australia. Was there another commercial vehicle no one cared to mention?

What followed was a mission to discover and determine what is often referred to as the “Indigenous Estate”. Here is what I found.

The Indigenous Estate comprises the assets held, or reasonably likely to be held, by or for the benefit of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, whether by:

  • Traditional owner, native title and state/territory land rights based organisations;
  • Commonwealth, state and territory organisations, statutory bodies and funds established to act in the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including (without limitation) the assets within IBA, Indigenous Land Corporation, the Indigenous Land Account, Aboriginals Benefit Account and analogous structures under state/territory regimes;
  • Commercial or not-for-profit organisations established by or for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The assets comprising the Indigenous Estate are both tangible — lands and waters, and the resources located on or within them, fixed property — and the intangible — cultural and intellectual property rights, as they exist in forms of expression (arts, dance, music, language); traditional cultural, environmental and bioscience practices, and other forms of traditional knowledge.

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  • Paddy

    A very interesting read for all and some good recommendations for policymakers.