NAIF recognises the special relationship between Indigenous people and country throughout northern Australia and acknowledges the continuing connection to land, waters and culture - continuing to pay our respects to Elders past and present.
Indigenous people have a major presence in northern Australia with 40% of the land mass being directly owned or managed by Indigenous people and approximately 15% of the population across northern Australia identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, compared to the national average Indigenous population of 3%.
Figure 1. Native title claimant applications and determinations, August 2021.
Harnessing the growing Indigenous population, which is set to increase to over 50% of the total population of northern Australia by 2040, will be crucial to driving the development agenda of the north. Through equitable and sustainable development opportunities, Indigenous Australians will comprise the majority of the workforce, supported by appropriate training and education, with significant Indigenous business participation in industry supply chains.
NAIF acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are a fundamental part of Australia’s identity and tourists across Australia and the world travel to northern Australia to explore this unique experience firsthand. Traditional knowledge of Indigenous people helped establish industries such as fishing, pastoral, mining and agriculture across northern Australia.
Today, Indigenous people and their cultural knowledge has continued to support and drive these industries and broaden to other sectors such as tourism and renewable energy. Indigenous people are also pioneering new markets that support cultural and environmental sustainability like carbon offsetting through traditional fire regimes, and harvesting bush foods and medicines.
All proponents applying for NAIF financing are required to provide an Indigenous Engagement Strategy (IES) which set out objectives for participation, procurement and employment which reflect the regional Indigenous community. A satisfactory IES is one that provides appropriate opportunities for participation, procurement and employment which reflect the regional Indigenous community commensurate with the nature, scope and location of the project and the capacity and any existing operations of the Proponent. Short summaries of Proponent’s strategy’s are available here.
Our team works with project proponents to ensure each Indigenous Engagement Strategy is deliverable, realistic, measurable and reflective of the project. We continue to work with proponents following loan approval to track and support delivery of the proponent’s strategy through our reporting process.
In addition to outcomes being achieved through proponent IESs, NAIF facilitates key relationships, driving connections across agencies and organisations to increase opportunities for greater Indigenous economic development outcomes across the North. An example of this was a joint Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NAIF, Indigenous Business Australia and the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to use as a platform to share potential collaborating opportunities and build partnerships.
- When referring to First Nations People and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people NAIF uses the term Indigenous or Indigenous Australians – no disrespect or offence is intended.
- NAIF Investment Mandate – Mandatory Criteria 5