Program: Sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enterprise

Program Goal

To encourage engagement in agriculture and agribusiness that offers positive social, cultural, and economic opportunities for Indigenous community members. Management of Tropical North Queensland’s land and sea resources reflects the rights, values and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The Sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enterprise Program will deliver on this through three key activities.

TNQ Hub (Wet Tropics Node)

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Activity 1: Innovation in Community Resilience

Queensland’s 17 discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face important economic, social and environmental resilience challenges.

 These challenges are significantly exacerbated by drought, particularly in regard to water, food, infrastructure and digital security. There has previously been no regionalised approach to supporting individual councils to identify and address these issues and find innovative solutions.

This activity will support, facilitate and promote regional approaches to planning, peer-to-peer learning and developing products, services and tools to address regionally identified gaps. 

Activity 2: Innovation in Building Traditional Owner Enterprise Resilience

Traditional Owners (TO) across the TNQ region are now entering the post-native title determination period with “whole of country” opportunities (including new and emerging water rights, access to land and ecosystem services) only just beginning to be identified and mobilised to contribute to drought resilience. Diversified business and income opportunities will help build resilience.

This activity seeks to support regional collectives of TOs and individual TO institutions (e.g. Ranger Programs and Aboriginal Corporations) to access business opportunities through adopting innovative approaches to mobilising water, agricultural lands, natural resources and traditional knowledge.

Activity 3: Facilitating Innovation in Indigenous Business

Indigenous Australians have lower rates of self-employment and entrepreneurship than non-Indigenous Australians. The greatest disparity occurs in very remote areas with Indigenous people being nine times less likely to be self-employed. The TNQ region has a large Indigenous population in very remote areas.

Indigenous business opportunities for growth exist in agriculture, especially through accessing water, land and other opportunities. Supply Nation have identified through their research that many large companies are wanting to invest into Indigenous supply chains and business to help create a new generation of entrepreneurs, to grow business knowledge and help remove barriers to employment for future generations.

This activity seeks to accelerate new business opportunities and build resilience by supporting improvement in Indigenous business structures, processes, technologies and innovation through collaboration and learning across networks.  


Allan Dale

Program Lead

Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, and the independent Chief Scientist for the Collaborative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA). He explores integrated societal governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world, northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Allan has extensive policy and practical and expertise in building strong societal governance systems in regional, rural and social development and natural resource management contexts. Allan has been the past Chair of Regional Development Australia FNQ&TS, CEO of Terrain NRM and before that, was responsible for natural resource policy and social impact assessment in Queensland. He is also an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow with Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute.