When the BCCM engaged the authors of this report to undertake the third research project in a tripartite series examining diversity and inclusion in Australian co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) there was optimism and excitement that the team would deliver an impactful piece of research.
From inception, the research methodology was developed to be inclusive of the voice of the community that the report seeks to investigate. This has proved to be instrumental in the conclusions reached.
The purpose of this project was to frame the challenge of inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities within the CME sector in Australia. The report reaches a more ambitious conclusion; that CMEs and the CME sector can go further.
Adoption of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is critical for our sector and members. However, the community of co-operatives and mutuals can go further.
We can take our principles and embed them as a broader philosophy of inclusion that improves access to employment opportunities for First Nations people but also shares ownership and facilitates economic participation.
More than that, the report concludes that we should promote different forms of ownership, especially shared ownership that reflects the culture, and embraces the aspirations of Australia’s First Nations people for their communities.
This report brings together the knowledge of Aboriginal representatives from Australian co-operatives and mutuals, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous CME leaders to investigate the state of play for Indigenous inclusion and to frame the possibilities for the future. It raises questions and new opportunities for Australian CMEs to do business in a more inclusive way and to support Aboriginal people to grow their own CMEs.
The report concludes that CMEs and the CME sector have a huge opportunity to engage in transmission of the CME business model for the social and economic empowerment of Indigenous Australians.