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CDU supports Aboriginal business innovation projects

Charles Darwin University | Northern Institute - People. Policy. Place

In partnership with the Northern Territory (NT) Government, the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, Charles Darwin University (CDU) is providing funding to Aboriginal business innovation projects identified through the Aboriginal Innovation Alliance process.

The funding will be used to:

  • strengthen the focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in NT’s children and youth
  • inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush
  • facilitate the establishment of programs to support Aboriginal Territorians to innovate, and
  • supporting Aboriginal businesses to be ready to apply for the Business Innovation Program (BIP).

In achieving the identified outcomes, CDU will provide STEM programs and activities, specifically aimed at Aboriginals, with a minimum 50% of participants to be Aboriginal youths.

Innovators in Residence, Julie-ann Lambourne and Murray Saylor, of Tagai Management Consultants, are providing their expert advice to NT Aboriginal businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs undertaking innovation to assist in:

  • commercialising research and development opportunities for NT Aboriginal businesses, to contribute to the economic growth of the NT
  • identifying opportunities for collaboration between the private and public sectors with a specific focus on NT Aboriginal business enhancement
  • increasing the survival rate and profitability of small and medium NT Aboriginal businesses.

Through this newly established partnership, the following Aboriginal Business Innovation projects / businesses were identified and supported:

Yalu Marnggithinyaraw Indigenous Corporation, Galiwinku – Elcho Island

Yalu is an Aboriginal corporation delivering programs, research and community education to strengthen health and well-being from a foundation of cultural integrity. Yalu was established in 2002 and began working with community, universities and research organisations to facilitate research programs focused on the Yolŋu way of life and from that, have now grown into a nurturing centre providing employment and services across Galiwinku.

Three meetings and one workshop were conducted to date with Yalu directors, community members, and CDU researchers. Participants are very entrepreneurial and are keen to explore business opportunity for Yalu to create opportunities for community. Yalu has grown significantly in their program offerings due to research projects in partnership with CDU. There is a direct drive for Yolŋu to be in the lead of Yalu including the opportunity to be upskilled in business and business operations. Currently, they have minimal understanding of commercial sustainability and commercialisation. Also limited understanding of cultural and intellectual property protection.

Gong Wanhurr Indigenous Corporation

Gong Wanhurr Indigenous Corporation (GWIC) is a community-driven organisation emerging from north-east Arnhem Land. GWIC support the development and product of Yolŋu-led, multi-disciplinary performing arts and mixed-media projects. The objectives of GWIC is to deliver, through a ‘Learning on Country’ approach, sustainable programs developed through strategic relationships, delivered in remote homeland communities, that offer training, business and employment opportunities and outcomes.

Two meetings were held to date with GWIC representatives. Key partnerships across stakeholders have been established.

As the result of the meetings, the following were identified:

  • possible support to be provided for the production of an advanced technology project, Larrakitj
  • support to help develop governance policies, procedures and business foundations
  • support to help improve business plan and strategic plan to a required standard for business growth or commercialisation.


Wuna’s vision is to greatly enhance intergenerational social impact and to lead innovative Indigenous Human Service Standards and solutions with a national quality assurance framework.

Preliminary meetings with the chief executive officer (CEO) of WUNA were held. As the result of the meetings, opportunity arise to review WUNA product and service, and to assist WUNA to apply for BIP.

Support will also be provided for other Aboriginal businesses to help them prepare for the NT Government’s BIP funding.

In addition to the above projects, Professor Ruth Wallace have been in discussion on the following activities:

  • joint activity in 2020 with Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Dr Carla Eisenberg, on Aboriginal STEM projects for students in remote areas
  • hosting STEM activities with Children’s University
  • business development support to North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) via Ricky Archer, CEO
  • other projects such as RAMP, led by NAILSMA.