Inderscience Publishers

Indigenous community economic development in Northern Australia

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There have been numerous enquiries reporting on the economic and social disadvantages of indigenous Australians. Important factors that have worsened the labour market difficulties for indigenous Australians include their relatively rapid population growth, the relatively high proportion of the population in the younger age ranges, and the geographical concentration of much of the population in rural and remote areas. As employment opportunities for indigenous Australians have shrunk, there has been an increased dependence on government services and programmes within many indigenous communities. It is a central argument of this paper that promoting options for sustainable community economic development will improve social indicators of well-being due to the linkage between economic and social outcomes, and while the need to link the economic, social, and ecological imperatives of development have been widely recognised, questions of implementation are matters for central concern. Based upon the findings of case studies of small business development in remote indigenous communities in the north of Australia, as well as overseas, this paper addresses the questions of how ideas of sustainable community development can be best translated into reality.

Keywords: indigenous economic development, cultural differences, strategic management, rural economic development, remote economic development, Australia, sustainable development, small firms, small businesses, community development, employment, environment

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