Earlier this month I had the absolute honour of presenting at the 2021 Native Title Conference. The event itself went for 5 days but my talk happened to coincide with Mabo Day.
Delegates at the event were treated to something truly special as Gail Mabo was the opening presenter for the day. Hearing Gail talk in her firm yet soft-spoken way left me feeling grounded yet motivated at the same time. I certainly couldn’t do her any justice here with the written word, but she spoke at length about Eddie being a visionary and often left to stand alone. I guess I could best summarise the talk as
Always stand up for what you believe in……Even if it means standing alone.
For my own presentation, Staying True to Spirit and Culture Whilst Building Financial Prosperity I wanted to convey a simple message about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being on the cusp on generational change. With native title compensation, royalties and investments we are now presented with an opportunity to build financial prosperity for Indigenous Australians.
Whilst most talks were about the collective, I wanted to emphasise the importance of financial capability at an individual level. That is the ultimate end goal. The money from native title will either go directly to an individual or be invested into building community infrastructure and programs. Either way the end is the same, more finances for an individual than our people have ever seen before.
Now, this brings about its own challenges and was certainly a theme throughout the conference. The needs of the individual vs the needs of many. It is easy to understand the desire of the individual to make financial decisions that work best for them and their family. After years of hardship, struggle and trauma, it is completely acceptable for an individual to want to right a few wrongs in their life.
The flip side of the argument is the greater good, where we see Aboriginal organisations buying the commercial property they once leased and building an income producing asset pool. Additionally, Indigenous led community initiatives are being funded that address all key areas of closing the gap.
I personally believe that we can and must do both. I spoke about a concept from an Indigenous Canadian report Investing for Today, Tomorrow, and Future Generations: A Guide for Indigenous Investors. It is referred to as the 7th Generation Principle; a notion that highlights that we need to make financial decision that will benefit the next 7 generations.
At an individual level, someone can build as substantial investment portfolio with frequent and consistent contributions. The struggle here is that due to past policies and legislation, Aboriginal people don’t have the go to person in their family to talk to about money. The notion of managing money is still quite new to a lot of us as we simply did not have it in the past.
Whilst the week was spent networking and connecting with potential community partners about the opportunity of running our programs, it did reaffirm the importance of our vision. Achieving Financial Prosperity For Indigenous Australians.