Opportunities for Indigenous Australians in aid: what is needed?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has set itself an ambitious agenda to increase the engagement of Indigenous Australians in the delivery of Australian aid. This is guided by DFAT’s Indigenous peoples strategy, which sets a broad agenda for engaging with both Australian and overseas indigenous peoples, stating that, “DFAT will encourage Indigenous Australians to apply for DFAT-funded opportunities to engage in and develop people-to-people links with the international community”. This article published by Devex discusses the potential benefit of people-to-people engagement in the delivery of Australian aid through the translation of concepts into the local context.
Many of DFAT’s procurements now require tenderers to propose an ‘Indigenous participation plan’ that sets targets for Indigenous supplier use (see Supply Nation) and workforce participation in line with the Australian government’s broader Indigenous procurement policy (IPP). These DFAT procurement requirements are quite new, and Indigenous participation in international development programs is currently well below the Australian government’s Indigenous engagement targets.
In opening opportunities for Indigenous Australians, DFAT also has a responsibility to ensure that Indigenous businesses and individuals are well placed to meet the demands of this new marketplace. DFAT should act as a steward, leading by example to build capacity and encourage their partners to create a sustainable marketplace for Indigenous businesses in international development. Overseas posts should be supported to understand how to facilitate the engagement of Indigenous consultants and long-term advisors on existing programs in Asia and the Pacific, and to develop entry-level roles that can provide the exposure and experience needed for a career in foreign policy and international development. Large facilities and sectoral programs certainly have the capacity to create opportunities for Indigenous participation if supported and incentivised by DFAT to do so. Without market development initiatives, sourcing Indigenous expertise will become increasingly …read more