Last month, the country waited with baited breath, listening for what the future holds for their respective interests as the Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey handed down the 2014 Budget. As we analyse the outcomes, we are asking ourselves, is the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to Indigenous business clear?
While the Treasurer has committed to removing red tape in regulation, meaning for some Indigenous business owners a greater opportunity for improved productivity, there’s yet to be any indication of new or innovative programs that support for emerging and established businesses. And while the existing Indigenous Business Australia programs, including the successful Into Business workshops appear to be ongoing, it will be interesting to see if there is any additional support available for grassroots Indigenous business groups such as Indigenous Chambers of Commerce.
Establishing and maintaining membership-based Indigenous Chambers is not difficult, but it does require some resourcing. Unlike “mainstream” chambers, few of our members are established enough to provide the financial support base needed to keep up the ongoing work of fostering trade, building capability, advocacy and generating wealth. We also note the importance of networks in the success of Indigenous businesses in the Success Factors for Indigenous entrepreneurs and community-based enterprises Resource Sheet by Sam Morley published last month.
Now that the budget has been handed down, it is still a long way off being clear if membership and regionally based Indigenous Chambers, those made up of ordinary Indigenous business owners will see anything coming their way in the short term. In the meantime, we, many of us volunteers, will continue to function and work for our members as best we can.
Leesa Watego, Acting-President, SEQICC / Director, Iscariot Media