Saltwater Freshwater Receives Funding Boost Amidst Booming Indigenous Economy

Dance performers at last year’s Saltwater Freshwater Festival.


THE local economy and Indigenous talent in Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, Biripi and Worimi nations will benefit from an announcement that the Saltwater Freshwater (SWFW) Arts Alliance Aboriginal Corporation has secured $100,000 from the NSW Government’s 2020-21 Arts and Cultural Funding Program.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the 2021 SWFW annual program of activities and events will deliver arts and cultural projects on Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, Biripi and Worimi country.

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“Projects include culture camps, weaving, Made Deadly, and the SWFW Art Book.

“These will promote skills development, maintenance and preservation of traditional practices, enabling intergenerational knowledge transfer from Elders to youth,” Mr Singh said.

“This funding – announced during NAIDOC week – is a massive win for our region, delivering significant benefits for arts, culture and creativity,” he said.

“Local talent continues to step into the spotlight, thanks to this targeted arts and culture funding from the NSW Government.”

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the NSW Government’s Arts and Cultural Funding Program 2020-21 will support the state’s talented artists, workers and organisations and deliver strong arts and cultural outcomes for audiences.

The funding comes at a time when the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson is encouraging Australians to support Indigenous businesses and to recognise the Indigenous business sector as one of the fastest growing in Australia.

Data from the University of Melbourne has revealed Indigenous businesses’ contribution to the economy has more than doubled.

“This new research shows how critical the Indigenous business sector is to the national economy,” Mr Billson said.

“In the 12 years to 2018, the sector saw a 115% lift in gross income to $4.88 billion and that is expected to continue to grow.

“The same period saw a 74% increase in the number of businesses operating in the Indigenous business sector with more than 45,000 jobs created,” he said.

“Interestingly, the Indigenous business sector is made up of mostly small businesses with an average of 14 employees and average gross income of $1.6 million.

“That’s well above the non-Indigenous business average of $400,000 in gross income and two staff members.

“We know every dollar spent with an Indigenous business goes a long way.

According to Supply Nation for every $1 of revenue, certified Indigenous suppliers generate $4.41 of social return.

Mr Billson said, “In fact, Indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to employ other Indigenous staff according to Supply Nation, which is why procuring from Indigenous businesses is an investment in both Indigenous employment and economic development more broadly.

“While Indigenous businesses provide services across a range of industries, there are a number that have been hit hard by the pandemic, such as those businesses relying on the tourist trade.

“It’s especially important that we support these businesses as much as possible as they work to recover from this challenging period.”


By Sandra MOON


A smoking ceremony at Saltwater Freshwater 2020.

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