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Indigenous Culture, What are the Business Implications?


The bronzed Aussie, the long weekend trip down to the favourite family camping ground, sausage sizzles, hot and sweaty Christmas, Holden Commodore(RIP) vs Ford Falcon, XXXX vs VB.

What are the thoughts, feelings, nostalgia that floods your mind? Where does this cast you back?

These are what most Australians would refer to as part of our culture. In this article, we will explore the difference between mainstream Australian Culture and Indigenous Culture, and what are the implications in business and what are the expectations when it comes to a work/life balance.

Firstly, what defines culture,

In accordance with Merriam-Webster here are some of the representations of Culture,

a) the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.

b) the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterises an institution or organisation.

c) the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

d) the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

Culture in our homes, communities, and workplaces is one of those things that we can easily underestimate, it’s all around us but it’s something that is not measured, something that isn’t seen.

So, how do we go about talking about culture, both in a professional context and in our communities?

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi, the renown leader, and activist experienced his upbringing under British rule, he spent many years in pre-apartheid South Africa and eventually found himself back in India attempting to mend religious tensions. Gandhi, throughout his life, was in constant tug-o-war with the cultural pulls of many minority groups and the downward pressures of the tyranny of the majority.

In a similar aspect, to what Gandhi experienced, we observe today that many first-world nations are experiencing, a clash of cultures in their communities. Some, birth great harmony, others can aid division and rivalries.

So, it is extremely rewarding, to pay attention to the cultures in our workplaces and examine the social inputs of the people in the organisation. Now there are a host of articles, consultants, webinars on workplace culture, not to mention the cheesy 90’s motivational poster concerning the topic.

Now, to understand Indigenous Cultural input in your organisation, we need to understand where the culture originates from. Indigenous Australians make up 3.3% of the wider Australian Community, and 65% are under 30 years old. There are a series of cultural events all over the year, see our calendar of events.

This is an ideal way to connect with your local Indigenous community and start building a long-lasting relationship.

Your organisation will at some time, or already have an Indigenous staff member, so it’s important to have an internal policy or a Reconciliation Action Plan to secure a safe and welcoming place for First Nations Australians. Kinaway has a database of consultants who can help with this.

Over the years Kinaway Chamber of Commerce has increased its membership base with over 173 Indigenous Businesses and we are growing every week.

Something key learnings we gathered from our members are,

• Culture of Cash, many members will not pursue a high-value contract if it comprises their culture, family/work-life balance.

• Staying On Country, Indigenous Business show extreme resilience to operate their business on the land of their ancestors. If an Indigenous person moves the business to a central location for a contract/relationship, it is a very big step for the business and a token of goodwill towards clients.

• Indigenous to Indigenous Engagement, when invited to do business on another person’s country, Indigenous people will conduct their own due diligence on who is the Traditional Land Owner? Who are the main decision-makers? And are there existing Indigenous businesses in that space, or in the industry?

• Word of Mouth, before Facebook arrived, Indigenous community would often refer to the Koori or Murri Grapevine, this is a simple word of mouth network that operated all up the East Coast. Due to ancient customs, First Nation Australians married outside of their tribe with neighboring nations. Now add the displacement of the stolen generations Indigenous people have family connections all throughout the country. Due diligence done by one Indigenous person to another Indigenous person doesn’t require online and CV checks, it is a simple call to the person elders to check surnames and what community/mission they came from.

There are much more important Indigenous cultural practices, but we’d need to write a dictionary. We encourage you to get in touch with Kinaway and we can put you in the right direction regarding your Reconciliation journey here in Victoria.

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