Establishing an organisation is a challenge. It involves many long hours of planning and hard work, sometimes with the threat of failure looming over your head from previous business people who have failed before you. The following essay will explain the difficulty encountered by Indigenous people who are trying to develop an organisation in Australia. When the settlers hit the shores of the new found Australia the Indigenous Australian population had no idea what they were in for. Along with these settlers came laws and rules, different to the way they were so used to and were accustomed to for many centuries.
Indigenous Australians had their own estates within boundaries and knew where they could and could not go. This form of ownership was unlike the exclusive property rights to land, which individuals possess, in modern industrial societies. “Land could not be bought or sold; it was held in trust for future generations” (Dingle, 1988, p.10.). Non Indigenous Australians had their own ideas for the land. Many Indigenous Australians were situated along the coastal areas of Australia, with only a handful inland, but as the Non Indigenous population increased, the Indigenous Australians were pushed into the harsh arid interior of this great land they thought was theirs.
Education was a huge problem for Indigenous Australians. When children were taken from their parents and placed into state care they were sent to missions run by Brothers and Nuns of the church. The reason for taking the children was in the name of “education” (Aborigines Department, Annual Report 1899:5). There were placed into a system run by Non Indigenous people who did not think that Indigenous Australians were capable of being educated beyond elementary levels.
Keith Truscott and Dr Peter Milnes in a discussion paper of conditions, processes and outcomes for providers of business education to Indigenous people in Western Australia delivered at ASAWA conference quoted “In these segregated schools about half the day was spent in teaching practical tasks – domestic chores for girls and agricultural or station activities for the boys – and for a few hours in the mornings, Christianity, reading, writing and elementary maths”. This type of education for pacification served “to make them an intelligent useful servant class” (Marchant, 1954:74).
“Participation in the White Australian economy almost exclusively took the form of Aborigines to establish their own enterprise” (Schaper, 1999). Many of the Indigenous Australians who went to work for Non Indigenous Australians were not paid money for their work. It was not until the 1940’s that Indigenous Australians found themselves in many poorly paid jobs and frequency of work was unknown. With the lack of education and skills, Indigenous Australians were limited to labour related jobs with minimal wages for their efforts.
Indigenous Australian societies are based firmly on the principles of kinship and sharing, with this being the way for thousands for years. Making profit is not always the priority of the Indigenous businessperson. Non Indigenous Australians are profit driven and think the more money and material items that they have the happier they will be. In the case of Indigenous Australian business people they serve their community and family, creating employment for locals and some even share their profits with family members which makes them proud and successful business people in the eyes of their family ad community.
Up until recently obtaining funds to venture into business was hard for Indigenous Australians. With the introduction of grants and funding this has eased the pressure of Indigenous Australians being humiliated when bank after bank refuse to give a line of credit or loan due to the lack of confidence in Indigenous Australians wanting to start a business. With this happening the capital needed to start an organisation is usually obtained from Government agencies or Indigenous organisations.
The number of Indigenous Australian business owners is not increasing. Along with all the above factors, business education was not widely taught to Indigenous Australians. With this being a major problem in Indigenous society, the education institutions around the country introduced courses specifically focussing around Indigenous Australians and giving them the knowledge and practical skills needed to start their own business. Many who have taken advantage of the courses available have gone on to manage their own small business or a community-based organisation focussing around Indigenous Australians.
These businesses range from arts and crafts, tourism and shops to larger businesses such as housing organisations, employment services and counselling services. This knowledge that Indigenous Australians have acquired through these education institutions are bringing them up in the business world of Australia. More Indigenous Australian business owners are needed and local communities are working to achieve high success rates.
The future is positive for Indigenous people wanting to start their own organisation. Although there are odds stacked against them there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are many successful Indigenous organisations within Australia who started off with Government funding and now run solely on their own profit. This essay has tried to shed some light on the difficulties and challenges encountered by Indigenous people who are trying to develop their own organisations in Australia. Indigenous Australians have not had it easy from the start when the first settlers came to Australia. Many Non Indigenous Australians had the opportunity to be educated in business skills where many Indigenous Australians were only educated in domestic and agricultural skills. There are many opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the twentieth century to obtain the necessary business skills and education to succeed in the Australian business world.
Dingle, T. (1998). Aboriginal Economy: Patterns of Experience. Melbourne Australia: Mc Phee Gribble. Graetz, B ; McAllister, I. (1994). Dimensions of Australian Society. 2nd ed. Melbourne Australia: Macmillan. Schaper, M. (1999). Australia’s Aboriginal Small Business Owners: Challengers for the Future. Journal of Small Business Management, 37,