Welcoming our new Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership
Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne have joined forces to pioneer a new model for Indigenous education and engagement.
The new Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership will be a home for education, engagement and research to support the self-determined growth of Indigenous businesspeople, companies and communities around the country.
The name Dilin Duwa means "everlasting flow" in the Woi Wurrung language of the Wurundjeri people, on whose lands the Centre is located. It signifies the convergence of three streams of activities – programs, research and engagement – into impact.
Director, Associate Professor Michelle Evans, said the Centre was committed to the pursuit of equality for Australia's First Nations people in the economic life of our country.
"The best way for the university sector to improve Indigenous economic inclusion is to offer access to business education, no matter where people are located," Associate Professor Evans said.
"The Indigenous business sector is a vibrant, diverse sector that spans across all industries and geographic locations of Australia. And it is growing, with Indigenous entrepreneurs and boards deciding where to position in the market and how to give back to Indigenous communities."
The Centre will become a primary resource for governments and corporations, providing previously unavailable research and data to inform policy and provide insights into procurement and Indigenous engagement activities.
Earlier this year the Centre team, working with Indigenous Business Data Custodians and the Melbourne Institute, delivered Australia's inaugural Indigenous Business Snapshot and developed the Indigenous Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (I-BLADE) 1.0, a project the Centre will continue developing.
The launch coincides with the announcement of two major partnerships with the Centre: Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), one of Australia’s leading bodies supporting Indigenous businesses and an existing sponsor of the MURRA Indigenous Business Program, and the Minderoo Foundation.
IBA's partnership is one of the largest it has signed with an educational institution. IBA's Director of Community and Customer Experience, Arrernte woman Stella de Cos, said the Centre provided a new level of resourcing to support the rapid growth of Indigenous businesses.
"Entrepreneurship and building strong business skills provide a clear path to achieving financial success and economic independence for Indigenous Australians and our communities," she said.
"Since 2014, IBA has supported the MURRA program, so this expansion to partner with regional programs, with a dedicated online platform, is another step towards our commitment for a nation in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are economically independent and an integral part of the economy.
"By supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs to build on their success, to contribute and grow business on country and within their own eco-systems, we can continue to foster the growth of a vibrant, sustainable Indigenous business sector, and true economic empowerment."
Generation One, an initiative of Minderoo Foundation, has a mission to create employment parity with and for Indigenous Australians.
CEO Shelley Cable, a MURRA alumna, said the Dilin Duwa partnership would build on the University's strong history of backing Indigenous entrepreneurs and increasing support available nationwide.
"The Indigenous business sector contributes billions of dollars to our economy, and demand for Indigenous goods and services continues to grow," Ms Cable said.
"Through Australia's first Centre dedicated to Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs, the sector will be supported to reach new heights, resulting in meaningful progress towards Indigenous employment parity, led by self-determining Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses."
Expanding on the foundations built by the award-winning MURRA program and the recent online Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Business Leadership, the Centre will also be guided by an Indigenous Advisory Group made up of Indigenous business and leaders, including Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr, Dr Blaze Kwaymullina, Ms Cable and Ms de Cos.
The Centre will follow Indigenous terms of reference to ensure cultural priorities and protocols are observed. Staffing and leadership are majority-Indigenous: Associate Professor Evans, Lecturer – Indigenous Communities Ash Francisco, Associate Lecturer – Indigenous Programs Mitchell Hibbens and Centre Manager Steven Clarke.
"My hope is that Dilin Duwa will provide a space where established Indigenous business owners, teachers, aspiring entrepreneurs, corporate organisations, and government can come together to realise the dream of an economically powerful Indigenous Australia," Associate Professor Evans said.
For Melbourne Business School, the Centre represents an important strategic joint initiative with the University's Faculty of Business and Economics as well as the realisation of a goal which started a decade ago with the founding of MURRA.
"We are delighted to see the launch of the Centre today," says Dean, Professor Ian Harper.
"FBE and MBS are committed to supporting Indigenous economic self-determination, in whatever way we can. This is the purpose of academic institutions, but more than that, it brings to our community diverse ways of thinking and doing business that are so important in creating a just and equitable future for everyone.
"We share Michelle's hope that Dilin Duwa will provide a space where everyone can come together to realise the dream of an economically powerful Indigenous Australia."
To learn more, visit the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership page.
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