Stories To Learn From

Dr. Anne Poelina (L) and Lucy Marshall OAM

Dr Anne Poelina, a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Water & Environment Trust (2011), talks about why it is important to share stories so Aboriginal experience and knowledge can be included in land and water management decisions. She talks about the importance of a cooperative way to develop Australia's multiple economies.

A Nyikina woman, Dr Poelina contributes a significant voice promoting partnership of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interests in the future ethical development of areas rich in cultural, agricultural, mineral and ecological resources.

Read her paper 'Stories to Learn From', published in RipRap, Edition 36, 2013

Jobs for Indigenous People in the West Kimberley

What does the future West Kimberley labour market look like, and where, in terms ofnumbers and composition, are Indigenous workers likely to fit?


In considering such questions, Altman [2006. ‘The future of Indigenous Australia’, Arena Magazine, 84 (August–September): 8–10] has suggested four policy choices:

1. maintain the status quo in poor economic outcomes (the experience to date); 
2. encourage people to move and acquire mainstream work (the current policy approach);
3. build an economic base at remote communities (only partially attempted to date and CDEP dependent); 
4. or focus on underwriting Indigenous livelihoods and recognising new forms of property (also CDEP-linked and requiring recognition of new forms of property).


Economic futures for Northern Australia

Northern Australia, from the Kimberley to Cape York, has reached an important
juncture in its economic development.

Across much of this area resource exploration and development is running at a
frenzied pace while simultaneously natural and cultural heritage values are being
recognised through such processes as National Heritage (Kimberley) and World
Heritage (Cape York) assessment.

The challenge we face is how to chart a sustainable path between resource
exploitation and recognition of the incredible natural and cultural values of the
region – while still delivering economic opportunities for communities in Northern


Protecting the Kimberley would boost economy


National Heritage listing for the Kimberley would create local jobs and benefit the region’s economy, according to new research we have released.

With Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke due to make a decision about National Heritage listing by mid-year, our research shows a strong Heritage listing for the Kimberley could deliver more local and ongoing jobs than mining. (See here also)
While mining is the biggest contributor to the Kimberley’s ‘gross regional product’, our research shows the mining industry is the eleventh largest employer in the region, providing only 500 jobs.

“Mining in the Kimberley is controlled by national and international companies, so the profits don’t stay in the region and the workforce is largely fly-in fly-out workers, not local employees,” said our Economic Adviser Simon O’Connor.

“In fact, mining is a much less important employer in the Kimberley than retail trade, accommodation and food – industries that will grow as more people visit the Kimberley to experience the region’s outstanding natural and cultural values. 

“The Kimberley’s values are a direct result of centuries of Indigenous care and management of the land.

“In contrast to the money made from mining, which mostly leaves the region to generate wealth elsewhere, retail trade and tourism generate local wealth.

“These results are echoed across WA, where resource development is failing to deliver on its promise of economic opportunity for local communities.  The Pilbara has generated billions in wealth over decades, but this has not resulted in economic development for the Indigenous people of the region. 

“National Heritage listing will help protect the globally unique values of the Kimberley from inappropriate development and will help the tourism, retail, food and accommodation sectors to grow supporting real jobs for locals.”