Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Prime Minister’s NT Community Business Award Winners Produce Big Benefits for Indigenous Communities

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today congratulated three Northern Territory partnerships, for winning the Northern Territory 2004 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships.

The award-winning partnerships have been recognised for outstanding contributions to Indigenous communities through improved local store management in remote areas, development of a sustainable forest industry in the Tiwi Islands and an Aboriginal aquaculture industry in remote NT.

These award winners underline the multiple community benefits produced by business and community groups combining talents and resources to work together.

The Community Stores Program, a partnership between the NT’s Jawoyn community, the Fred Hollows Foundation and Woolworths Ltd, won the NT Large Business Award for the successful operation of local stores.

The Fred Hollows Foundation sought Woolworths advice on improving management of local stores in remote Aboriginal communities, which prompted the company to send an employee and his family to work with the Jawoyn community to provide professional support and staff training in retail management.

Woolworths in Katherine also provided training programs for staff and the Fred Hollows Foundation facilitated financial literacy training to teach Aboriginal people to understand financial statements and budgets.

“We are now seeing Aboriginal people employed in Jawoyn stores and an expanded range of available foods which has improved community members’ diets,” Senator Patterson said.

“This initiative is helping Indigenous people to develop the necessary skills and resources to take control of their own health and may prove to be a model for improvements in other communities.”

The Tiwi Forestry Project, which is a partnership between Sylvatech Ltd and the Tiwi Land Council, won the NT Medium Business Award. This project is a foundation for the development of a secure economic and social future for Tiwi people.

Since 1997 the partnership has seen Sylvatech provide training and job opportunities to the Tiwi people, who, in turn, encourage each other to take up employment. Sylvatech has also provided research, knowledge, skills and management to the project, which has continually expanded in both size and resources.

The Tiwi Land Council has shown its willingness to build a foundation for their people for future jobs, active participation in management and export, and the sharing of its knowledge of Tiwi people’s cultural, economic and social needs.

“This partnership has provided mutual benefit including Sylvatech securing sales and shipping of timber, as well as developing expertise in the growth and management of a large-scale forestry venture. The Tiwi community now has a long-term resource industry, generating income to improve local social infrastructure and services,” Senator Patterson said.

The partnership of LoTech Aquaculture Pty Ltd, the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Warruwi Community Corporation has won the NT Small Business Award by joining together to produce new and culturally appropriate commercial activities in remote areas.

LoTech has worked with local Aboriginal communities and provided training, jobs and income by establishing sponge aquaculture projects. Aboriginal custodians and traditional owners have contributed by providing access to Aboriginal land and sea areas, as well as boats and equipment needed to establish the sponge farms.

Senator Patterson said: “The development of this partnership and the aquaculture industry promises to build stronger Indigenous communities through improved job opportunities, relationships, health and well-being, and the retention of traditions and customs.”

Northern Territory Encouragement Awards have been won by the Territory Construction Association and Northern Land Council partnership in the Medium Business sector, and the Crocodylus Park (Wildlife Management International) and Charles Darwin University partnership in the Small Business category.