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04 August 2010

GenerationOne Ideas Forum Comes To Fox Studios; Business, social and community entrepreneurs unite, by Greg Tingle

It wasn’t the first forum addressing Aboriginal disadvantage, nor will it be the last, but one gets the distinct feeling this “talk fest” was effective, and believe me, the positive flow on effects are already taking place, many out of the public or media spotlight. “Fame” is not the objective hear, however awareness is no doubt of prime importance, thus mainstream and alternative media does play a role.

For me this was personal (not business, not politics or spin)…it is of life significance.

GenerationOne had finally come to our backyard, just up the road at Moore Park, Fox Studios. I hadn’t met up with the team previously as the Circular Quay happening months back, as the happening had snuck up on me. I wasn’t going to miss out on the Fox appearance for the world.

Like GenerationOne founder and visionary, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest (his other cap being mining magnate billionaire) and his Bondi Beach based mate and associate, James “Casino King” Packer (currently sailing the high seas off Europe), I spent much of my formative youth around indigenous Australians, my late farther being a miner – truck driver, who transformed himself into property developer. Some of dad’s best mates and associates were “Abbo” (affectionate). I couldn’t agree more with Twiggy’s comments that “The more you get to know Aboriginal people the more you love them”.

I believe that GenerationOne will continue to be successful. Why? Dreamers plus Big Resources, the super powers of Australian business and media, tremendous People Power, and the genuine desire to win. A number of key people in GenerationOne are already employing thousands of (suitable) Aboriginal people and plan to employ more.

There’s no handouts here, hand ups… yes, and everyone is motivated. Forrest, Packer, myself and others don’t need to help – we want to, because we can, and it’s the right thing to do, and its good business. Aussies helping Aussies in the spirit of mates ship and a fair go for all.

Twiggy has challenged politicians of all parties to help indigenous people get in (and stay in) the Australian workforce. It’s not a quick fix, but it is based on sustainable solutions.

The Fortescue Metals Chief Executive advised last Thursday that he “wasn't a bleeding heart” and “skilling-up indigenous people made good business sense”.

Forrest said indigenous people didn't need more welfare money but need real leadership.

"The government really needs to move itself along and say 'OK, welfare really hasn't worked'," he told the Fox Studios crowd last Thursday.

“Employment is the key to ending indigenous disparity. If the government encourages industries which can really make a difference, and yes it is mining, but it's also construction, it's also hospitality, it's also tourism.

"If they encourage those industries to deliver the training themselves (then) other companies ... will have the faith to continue the employment."

He stressed that the government would need to step up and provide funding and / or subsidise the costs of training.

Deputy Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Melinda Cliento, also on the GenerationOne panel, said standards needed to be raised so indigenous children didn't leave school and stray into unemployment.

Forrest said it was also in the interest of Australian businesses to employ indigenous people.

"I'm not doing this because I'm a philanthropist or because I've got a bleeding heart. I'm doing this essentially because it's great for business," he said.

"The more business grows, the morale of your people, the culture deepens of your workforce - you become a more valuable company."

*Disclaimer: The writer is a pro active supporter of GenerationOne, Virgin Unite, The Salvation Army and owns shares in Crown Limited

*The writer has previously assisted and campaigned for a number of Indigenous Australian communities and associated initiatives including but not limited to Yuggera Tribe, Githabul People, Whaledreamers and Friends Of Malabar Headland

Bondi (Boondi) is an Aboriginal word which means ‘Water breaking over rocks’

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