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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


Joining the real economy: a quantitative mapping of the economic potential of remote Indigenous communities

First Peoples economic conditions First Peoples economic participation First Peoples enterprise development Rural and remote communities Australia

The disadvantage of remote Indigenous communities is well understood. However, governments are yet to develop an effective solution for resolving this situation. Remote communities are often written off, with governments happier to leave them as a perpetual drag on the public purse rather than seeing their potential.

While remote and very remote (all referred to in the paper as ‘remote’) towns are never going to be burgeoning metropolises, these communities should have a level of economic activity more commensurate with their population sizes.

Many remote Indigenous communities have enough of a critical population mass to support a range of businesses and services; including cafes, hairdressers, real estate agents, supermarkets, bakeries, butcheries, agricultural and fishing supplies stores, tourism enterprises and more.

However, most of the remote Indigenous communities analysed in this paper have virtually no businesses whatsoever. This lack of businesses, particularly in larger communities, is verging on incomprehensible. Like many remote non-Indigenous communities, remote Indigenous ones could — and should — have small but functioning economies commensurate to their population size.

Utilising the latest ABS Census data and other key datasets, this paper quantitatively demonstrates that it is possible for remote communities to be participants in real economies. By comparing remote Indigenous communities to similar non-Indigenous communities, it is clear there is significant potential to get remote Indigenous Australians into the economy and to begin to genuinely ‘Close the Gap’.

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CIS Research Report 45