The economic benefits of being on country and future enterprise opportunities

Thursday, 2 June 2016
Dr Kamaljit Sangha
Prof Jeremy Russell-Smith

It is well recognized that ‘Being on Country’ provides a diverse range of socio-economic, health, educational and cultural benefits for Indigenous people. However, such benefits are typically not accounted for in policy-decision-making nor in planning for Indigenous land and sea sector development programs. Our contemporary economic system applies a typical ‘utilitarian’ approach where marketable (monetary) commodities/services account for development that contrasts with many non-marketable (non-monetary) services valued by Indigenous people. In other words, we yet have to comprehend and incorporate the full value of country-related Indigenous services into our policy-decision-making and development programs. Our research proposes simple mechanisms to evaluate the importance of ‘hidden’ country-based economy for policy-decision-making, and for developing land sector services-based novel opportunities. For example, an Indigenous estate provides a range of on-site and off-site benefits in the form of ecosystem services, which are little considered in standard development approaches. In this paper, we evaluate the role of such services for a remote Northern Territory Indigenous estate to indicate the potential of such country-based enterprise opportunities for local communities and the broader public.