CRC for Remote Economic Participation

Media Release

$3bn benefit of 'closing the gap' - Access Economics

September 7, 2009 – for immediate release

Aboriginal people living in remote communities across Australia stand to benefit significantly from a proposed national research effort enabling them to participate more fully in the economy, a study by Access Economics has found.

Indeed the whole of Australia will be nearly $3 billion better off if the Indigenous gap in remote and very remote Australia is closed, the report says.

“Real GDP will be around 0.29 percent higher than otherwise in 2029. As a proportion of current GDP, this equates to approximately $2.9 billion. Further, since the percentage change in GDP is greater than the percentage change in the population, living standards also rise,” it predicts.

The study estimates that if the Gap is closed in remote and very remote Australia, where a quarter of all Aboriginal people, then approximately 22,000 jobs will be created throughout Australia.

This would reduce current levels of unemployment in remote areas, which are about twice the national average, Access says.

The Chairman of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (DKCRC), Paul Wand, says that through its six years of research, DKCRC has established a significant basis for continued research to provide an evidence base for Closing the Gap. To this end an application to establish a CRC for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP) has been made to the Commonwealth Government

Managing Director of the Desert Knowledge CRC Jan Ferguson, who is managing the bid for the CRC-REP, says that the Access work provides vital support for a new approach to the challenges faced by Aboriginal and other Australians living in remote areas.

“For decades remote areas have been managed by subsidy and direction from the capital cities. Most of the jobs are in the public sector – yet the people there have a tremendous ability to stand on their own feet, economically, if given the right tools.

The proposed CRC-REP will explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to establishing remote area enterprises, jobs, livelihoods, new ways to strengthen regional economies and link them to the wider world, and fresh approaches to education and training that will equip remote Australians for the employment conditions of the 21st century.”

Many of these enterprises and jobs would be in fields in which Aboriginal communities already have significant expertise – cultural and eco tourism, bush foods and medicines, art, music and dance – fields that are in worldwide demand, she said. “This will help to keep Aboriginal culture and language intact in ways that almost no other approach can achieve, allowing knowledge to flow from older to younger generations unbroken and giving young people a new self-belief and motivation.”

“The fact that there are some sixty federal and State government organisations, private companies and Aboriginal bodies supporting the CRC-REP bid shows what a groundswell of support it has.

“People have understood that past approaches are not working. That a different approach is called for.

We know that Australians naturally thrive on a sense of independence, on running their own show, on having work that really means something to them rather than just pushing paper around. We know the benefits of this are incalculable, such as better health, higher skills and greater self-sufficiency.

This is the approach we aim to pursue in the CRC for Remote Economic Participation. If we can link remote Australians to the economy and the world in ways that mean something to them, then the sort of benefits outlined in the Access Economics study will flow naturally.”

More information:
Paul Wand, Chairman, DKCRC, 0419 011 440
Jan Ferguson, Managing Director, DKCRC, 08 8959 6041 or 0401 719 882
Daniel Terrill, Principal Economist, Access Economics, 0413 682 448
Craig James, General Manager Commercialisation and Communication, DKCRC, 0408 838 194
Prof. Julian Cribb, DKCRC media, 0418 639 245

A copy of the CRC-REP proposal and the Access Economics report “Economic impact of closing the Indigenous gap in remote and very remote Australia” can be found at:

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