Provide research and assistance and identify infrastructure requirements as appropriate to enable Aboriginal landowners and other Aboriginal people to undertake commercial activities.
Section 23(1) (ea) of the Land Rights Act assigns a function to the CLC to “assist Aboriginals in the area of the Land Council to carry out commercial activities (including resource development, the provision of tourist facilities and agricultural activities)”.
The CLC supported the development of Aboriginal-led commercial activities through advocacy and policy development, network building, entrepreneurship and business support, governance capability building, and brokering of resources and services. Its strategies reflect the diversity of community aspirations and the economic realities in the region and are tailored to the needs of people and organisations involved. To achieve better Aboriginal participation, the CLC worked closely with major banks, specialised consultants, local indigenous intermediaries, the Aboriginal Benefit Account, the Office of the Registrar for Indigenous Corporations, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Indigenous Business Australia, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, the Business Enterprise Centre and other NT Government agencies.
For example, the CLC worked intensively with the Imanpa Development Association, an Aboriginal business whose assets and interests include a roadhouse on freehold land, a pastoral lease encompassing an indigenous protected and grazing licence area, and commercial rental properties. It helped the management committee to improve governance practices and undertake strategic and business planning in collaboration with the Aboriginal Governance and Management Program, Community First Volunteers (formerly Indigenous Community Volunteers) and Ngurratjuta Accounting Services. The business subsequently used community funds to pay down a mortgage held against the roadhouse, carried out a small muster of feral cattle, and held preliminary negotiations of a new grazing arrangement with a neighbouring pastoralist that includes a multi-year infrastructure investment.
The CLC explored tourism and cultural and bush product opportunities with Angas Downs traditional owners. It discussed the development of a haulage business connected to prospective mining developments with another group of traditional owners, and asked Indigenous Business Australia for assistance. It carried out business planning, brokered support services and assisted with fundraising by Loves Creek traditional owners. Advisory and planning work with Tjoritja/ West MacDonnell National Park traditional owners continued. Business ideas such as retail concession and community services were explored. Traditional owners from Walkabout Bore also received help to plan and fundraise for a new fencing project.
The CLC continued to support emerging Aboriginal tourism enterprises with business planning and preparations for the 2020 tourism season. This involved adjusting operations progressively impacted by pandemic restrictions.
Traditional owners of the Petermann Aboriginal Land Trust received support with business planning and tour guide training to prepare for an expanded program of special interest 4WD tag-a-long tours to Lasseter’s grave at Marura and the Walka rock art site near Kaltukatjara’s camp ground.
The CLC helped traditional owners of the Batton Hill Bush Camp to access specialist business expertise to establish an independent family-run business on the Atnetye Aboriginal Land Trust. It procured an NT Government Aboriginal business development program grant to replace a solar-powered water pump and diesel generator at the bush camp. It assisted the business to communicate with clients and permit applicants impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. It also helped to prepare the camp and plan for physical distancing and safe hygiene practices in case the Hay River Track reopens in 2021.
The CLC represented the tourism interests and concerns of constituents at interagency meetings, regional tourism and economic development forums, such as the Tourism NT stakeholder masterplan meetings and in the implementation of the 10 Deserts Project’s indigenous regional tourism strategy. Jawun (a non-profit organisation which manages secondments from the corporate and public sectors to Aboriginal organisations) helped the CLC to draft a tourism development strategy.
The CLC secured funding from Tourism NT for the restoration of Kunjarra (The Pebbles) cultural site on the Warti-Yangu Aboriginal Land Trust north of Tennant Creek. The CLC and the NT Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics are helping the site’s traditional owners to prepare detailed plans for the upgrade of visitor day-use facilities and interpretative signage.
Economic development in national parks and indigenous protected areas (IPAs), including several large-scale tourism projects, is a substantial part of the CLC’s commercial assistance work.
It continued to plan, develop and negotiate an exclusive walking trail and associated accommodation with traditional owners of the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park and other interested parties. It helped the traditional owners to better understand the tourism industry and assisted the proponent to identify how they will involve them in the project. Ongoing consultations are informing negotiations between Parks Australia, the proponent and the CLC.
Project development and negotiation also continued in relation to the NT Government’s ‘turbocharging tourism’ economic stimulus project proposals for the Tjoritja / West MacDonnell and Watarrka national parks. Following initial consultations with traditional owners, the CLC worked with them and the government to identify opportunities for Aboriginal people in the development and operation of the projects (see also ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT).
The CLC secured resources and support for Aboriginal people wishing to work on these projects or to run small businesses linked to them. It helped the contractors building the Tjoritja adventure bike trail to employ seven trainees and two cultural advisors. Traditional owners also found work with contractors working on trails near Alice Springs. It discussed commercial facilitation processes for finding suitable commercial operators and possible co-investment for both projects with traditional owners.
The NT Government funded CLC-facilitated trips of traditional owners involved in both projects to Darwin and Katherine to meet Aboriginal people working in tourism. They attended an Aboriginal economic development forum, visited the Jawoyn Association and Nitmiluk Tours, and spent time with CLC chair and tourism operator, Sammy Wilson, who presented at the forum. The groups also met members of the NT Government’s Aboriginal tourism advisory committee.
The CLC progressed an enterprise facilitation project with the management committee of the Katiti–Petermann IPA through Matrix Consulting. The committee is exploring running an Aboriginal-owned campground on the IPA. The consultants presented at committee meetings, formed a project group and stepped the group through possible business models and locations. The project aims to develop a business plan and feasibility study and provide more general guidance for assessing proposals for tourism on IPAs. Joint initiatives with the Angas Downs IPA on the Lasseter Highway have also featured in the planning. The NT Government funded these activities.
The CLC continued to support Huckitta Enterprises Pty Ltd, an Aboriginal company operating the pastoral enterprise on Huckitta Station in the Plenty River region. The ABA financed the purchase of the station on behalf of Eastern Arrernte traditional owners in 2010. Huckitta Enterprises Pty Ltd has maintained viable cattle production under a grazing licence from the land-holding body, Huckitta Aboriginal Corporation, since 2011. The CLC facilitated five meetings of the company’s board of directors during 2019–20 and increased the support provided to directors and station managers under a management support agreement with the business.
The agreement covers the appointment of a part-time support position; the development of registers of board meeting resolutions, policies and actions since 2011; governance training for the directors; and the review of the company’s policies and procedures, including for workplace health and safety. Under the agreement, consultants Bush Agribusiness prepared a business plan to guide the direction and development of the station over the next five years.
Reviews of the outcomes of the Huckitta Station purchase against the original purchase objectives and of available financial and employment data will also be conducted in consultation with the directors of the business and the corporation and other traditional owners. The CLC carried out consultations and research for the purchase review. Traditional owners were highly satisfied with the purchase and felt that it had met their socio-cultural, economic and employment objectives. Notable among its achievements has been the employment of 73 Aboriginal people with local links in fulltime, parttime and casual employment on the station. A further 47 Aboriginal people had been employed in the Arltarpilte–Inelye ranger group which carried out cultural protection and environmental management work on and around Huckitta since the purchase. Traditional owners also identified a range of priorities for the station for the next decade.
The demand for environmental services delivered by Aboriginal people is growing across the region. Rangers are already involved in this emerging industry through prescribed burns on Aboriginal land and the CLC helps Aboriginal organisations to engage with the industry.
It continued to support the Karlantijpa North Kurrawarra Nyura Mala Aboriginal Corporation, which holds a carbon farming licence over a portion of the Karlantijpa North Aboriginal Land Trust, by facilitating two directors’ meetings, project administration, a country visit and a prescribed burn. COVID-19 restrictions stopped the corporation’s normal operations; for example, its annual general meeting. It held two directors’ meetings to approve beneficial works for their carbon abatement operations, including the grading of 100 kilometres of boundary firebreaks and a trial of fixed-wing aerial incendiary burning. The CLC processed its 2019 carbon credit application, facilitated the transfer of contracted credit delivery, and liaised with contractors, neighbouring pastoralists and Bushfires NT to complete firebreaks and secure burning permits.
The CLC established Ranger Works to allow Aboriginal rangers to undertake fee-for-service contracts in cultural and natural resource management. A new supervisor position enabled the ranger program to pursue these opportunities. The program responded to eight requests for environmental services and successfully quoted for fencing, pipeline easement condition assessment, and mine rehabilitation.