‘The imperative for dhalang-girr (a new way) Part 1: What has the policy of the past 235 years cost Australia and its First Nations people?’’ was the third seminar in the six-part Murru waaruu (On Track) Economic Development Series presented throughout 2023 by the First Nations Portfolio.

The seminar series follows on from the success of the 2022 Marramarra murru (Creating Pathways) Economic Development Wealth Forum and Symposium and is designed to bring together leading practitioners and scholars to ensure we remain on track to deliver a compelling, evidence-based case to transition the current First Nations economic development policy paradigm to one that enables economic self-determination.

The Murru waaruu Seminar Series seeks to develop the components of a policy framework that will facilitate the economic empowerment of First Nations Australians.

Seminar Three was held on 14 June 2023 at the Australian National University in Canberra – focusing on the question of ‘What has the policy of the past 235 years cost Australia and its First Nations people?’

A key component to making a compelling case for policy change lies in understanding and articulating – by drawing from evidence – both the price that has been (and continues to be) paid by First Nations Australians for the policies of the past 250 years and what those policies have (and continue to) cost the nation.

The case made from a restorative justice perspective will inform settlements and increasingly appeal to the nation’s growing comprehension of its treatment of First Australians, while the cost that is incurred by the nation for inept First Nations economic development policy will drive a purely fiscal and productivity motivation for rectifying the current circumstances. This seminar sought to identify and explained a pathway to quantifying the opportunity cost that is associated with the Australian First Nations policy framework of the past 235 years.

The outcomes of each Murru waaruu seminar will be captured in an Issues Paper that will ultimately form part of a Policy Position Paper, to be published at the conclusion of the series. The Policy Position Paper will chart Australia’s First Nations economic policy and institutional framework with a view to achieving sustained and durable economic self-determination for future generations.

Listed below are the seminar session topics, keynote speakers and discussion panel members:

Just in case you weren’t convinced: the extent of Australian First Nations exclusion from the economy

Keynote Speaker: Professor Peter Yu AM (Vice President, First Nations Portfolio Australian National University)

Challenges in assessing historical economic impact

Keynote Speaker: Dr Boyd Hunter (Emeritus Professor, Centre for Social Research and Methods Australian National University)

The fiscal cost of servicing First Nations socio- economic disadvantage

Keynote Speaker: Ben Ainsworth (Director– First Nations Policy Unit, Commonwealth Treasury)

Blood Money Exhibition

In Conversation with Dr Ryan Presley and Bruce Gorring (First Nations Portfolio, Australian National University)

Impact of the transactional nature of development on First Nations lands

Discussion Panel:  Fiona Jose (CEO, Cape York Partnership), Aidan Hartshorn (Associate Lecturer, ANU School of Art and Design), Bardy McFarlane (Consultant), Susan Bergersen (Executive–Strategic Projects, Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation)