Down to business: the PM’s new Indigenous Advisory council

THE Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council has attracted several new members with strong business backgrounds, as well as substantial policy expertise.

Notable among the joining members is NPY Women’s Council CEO Andrea Mason, who was the Australian Businesswomen of the Year in 2016 and is currently the Northern Territory Australian of the Year. Ms Mason’s NPY Women’s Council is a highly regarded organisation committed to delivering youth and well-being programs and addressing domestic and family violence.  

Also joining the council is Stronger Smarter Institute founder and chairman, Chris Sarra. Apart from his many qualifications in education, administration and psychology, Professor Sarra is renowned for his business acumen and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and an honorary fellow of the School of Ethical Leadership at the Melbourne Business School.

University of Wollongong Indigenous Health professor Ngiare Brown is a Yuin nation woman from the South Coast of NSW who is also the foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. Among her many credits as a senior medical practitioner in the areas of public health and primary care, she has also studied bioethics, medical law and human rights.

Others joining the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council include Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation CEO Susan Murphy, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council chairman Roy Ah See, and Djambawa Marawilli, a traditional owner from Baniyala and an accomplished artist who co-ordinated the 2002 sea rights claim in the Blue Mud Bay region of North East Arnhem Land, won in the High Court in 2008.

The appointments reflect the expertise and innovation that exist in Indigenous Australia and we look forward to working with the new Council to drive better outcomes for our First Australians,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. These appointments are for three years. 

“The new Council will play an important role by engaging at the heart of Government, including with the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet, collaborating with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and ensuring the government is well positioned to renew the expiring Closing the Gap targets in the year ahead.

“The new Council members will meet and provide advice to the Government on the final makeup of the Council and its terms of reference. This will include engaging with other Indigenous Australians who have requested to be on the Council.”

Biographies of the new Council members 



NAIDOC focus on language

NAIDOC Week, running from July 2-9, is to focus on Indigenous languages for 2017.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2017 is Our Languages Matter and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, has announced a National NAIDOC Poster Competition centred on that theme.

“For First Australians, language links people to their land and water – it is how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is transferred through generations,” Mr Scullion said.

There were 250 distinct Indigenous language groups in Australia at the time Europeans first made contact. Now, only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost.

The Federal Government recently announced $22.8 million in funding to help keep Indigenous languages alive and showcase traditional and contemporary Indigenous cultural and artistic expression

Entries for the National NAIDOC Poster Competition close on March 20.





How nuclear tech determined ‘oldest’ Aboriginal site

A BARELY noticeable rock shelter in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges has been verified by nuclear technology as containing the oldest known evidence of Aboriginal Australian settlement.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) researcher Vladimir Levchenko has co-authored a paper with representatives of the Adnyamathanha people of the Northern Flinders Ranges, published in Nature magazine, marking this ‘mammoth’ discovery of Australian pre-history.  

Dr Levchenko’s research was undertaken in collaboration with Clifford Coulthard – a member of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association – who found the site with Giles Hamm, and are co-authors on the paper with Vincent Coulthard, Sophia Wilton and Duncan Johnston. The research is expected to boost both understanding and international interest in Indigenous Australian history and cultures.

ANSTO’s Dr Levchenko performed carbon dating research using two separate nuclear instruments at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights Campus between 2014 and 2016.

“I was involved as a radiocarbon specialist, and used two nuclear instruments over more than two years – the ANTARES and STAR accelerators,” Dr Levchenko said.

“The role of ANSTO and nuclear science extended to analysing shells, charcoal, tools and bones and megafauna, which showed two things.

“Firstly we showed that the site is up to 49,000 years old – the earliest occupied site we have come across in Australia, at least so far. 

“Secondly we proved through dating the megafauna bones, examining the marks on them, and the fact they were collocated, that humans and megafauna interacted.
“We also rechecked and in some cases redid research that was undertaken in other laboratories – to ensure the veracity of the important findings.”
The samples were carefully unearthed from their ancient home in the Flinders Ranges, and sent 1,500km and 49,000 years into the future at Sydney’s Lucas Heights. 
Two accelerators were used to combine their benefits – STAR with its dedicated radio carbon beamline, and ANTARES, ANSTO’s largest accelerator, which can accelerate virtually any naturally occurring isotope.
“The finding pushed radiocarbon dating technique to its best capability,” said ANSTO’s leader of the Centre for Accelerator Science, professor David Cohen.
ANSTO often contributes to studies that help determine the age of vitally of important artefacts with non-destructive methods, to reveals the true extent of the world’s oldest culture while preserving artefacts. 
“Nuclear techniques are applied to analyse and date rock art, tools, ochres and bones, shedding light on the lives of the first people in Australia,” Prof. Cohen said.




Indigenous small businesses show wealth of WA talent

THE Edith Cowan University’s Business Innovation Centre, which has 38 businesses in its incubator, has been praised helping to bring through successful new Indigenous businesses.

Federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack made the remarks on his Western Australian ‘listening tour’ which was focused on small businesses, especially learning of Indigenous business success stories.

With indigenous employment and procurement a key focus of the Federal Government, Mr McCormack said he met with two businesses which participate in the Indigenous Supplier Development Program.

"I toured Tri Shield Services – an indigenous company providing maintenance, construction and security services to mining and resource companies throughout WA, as well as In-Balance – an Aboriginal-owned and family-run company which exports a range of unique, environmentally-friendly Australian industrial cleaning products to the world,” Mr McCormack said.

“Both these companies are Indigenous Australian Small Business Advisory Service clients and provide the jobs, investment and opportunities Indigenous communities in WA deserve.

“It was terrific to see directly how investment through the ASBAS program can deliver the confidence and investment the Government wants to see across Australia.

“It’s clear the National Innovation and Science Agenda, as well as our Crowd-Source Equity Funding program is helping many young people at Edith Cowan get their start and pursue their dream,” Mr McCormack said.