Fulbright for Indigenous Business Researcher
Wednesday, 25th February 2015 at 10:01 am
A researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney focusing on supply diversity, Indigenous entrepreneurship and social enterprise has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
Dean Jarrett, a PhD candidate at UTS and a Gumbaynggirr man, received the 2015 Fulbright Indigenous Postgraduate Scholarship to advance his research with a focus on developments in the United States, in particular within Native American communities.
“My research is looking at the socio-economic and cultural impacts of Indigenous entrepreneurship and social enterprise,” Jarrett said.
“How does Indigenous enterprise and social enterprise impact on the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia? Have employment and educational levels improved because of Indigenous enterprise and social enterprise within specific communities? Are there flow-on effects in housing and health?
“I’ll be looking at the economic contributions of Aboriginal businesses and how that grows the local economy. I’m interested in the link between business and those broader socio-cultural impacts – the success not just of the business but of the community.”
In particular, Jarrett will investigate better practice in supply diversity, which aims to ensure that corporate and government supply chains reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, just as workforces should reflect the gender and cultural diversity of the populations within which they sit.
“In the US, I’ll be looking mainly at Native American communities and any similarities or differences with Indigenous enterprise here – whether we can learn from what Native Americans have done in their communities,” he said.
UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said Jarrett’s research was important because it would give Australian society a deeper understanding of exactly how Indigenous people engage in the economy and the real and positive impacts.
Jarrett’s research could feed into the thinking of Government policy makers and into corporate procurement and social responsibility programs.
“This is a story that isn’t being told loudly enough or often enough,” Brungs said.
Supervisor, Dr Bronwen Dalton, Director of the Masters of Not-for-Profit and Community Management Program at UTS Business School, said the research would underline the role corporate Australia could play by committing to supply diversity.
“Tens of thousands of Indigenous Australians are engaged in highly successful businesses,” Dalton said. “This is a story of resilience, independence, entrepreneurialism and corporate partnership.”
As part of his role at UTS Business School – where he was the first Indigenous intern under the university’s Wingara Indigenous Employment Strategy – Jarrett is developing a subject offering new perspectives on Indigenous economics.
“Aboriginal people have been trading for thousands and thousands of years – trade and industry isn’t new to us,” he said. “What is new is that we are now getting access to do it in a contemporary, culturally safe way. And it is how we will develop,” he said.
Professor Michael McDaniel, Director of the Jumbunna House of Learning at UTS said Jarrett was testament to the power of education and a role model for young Indigenous people.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people education is one of the most important factors in levelling the playing field. Indigenous Australians have always played a part in our nation’s economic and cultural fabric, and it will be worthy to quantify this contribution.”
Jarrett said he never set out to be a role model but he hoped his story would inspire others.
“At one stage, my family lived in a tent, with no electricity and no water. We were five kids living on the side of a railway line and we used to catch the train or punt to the nearest school … Knowing what it’s like to live in poverty and to come to where I am now, that’s a story in itself,” he said.
“I hope my story will give people inspiration to be able to go on and achieve whatever they want.”
The Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship was established in 1993 to recognise an Indigenous leader's commitment to achieving excellence, while seeking an international perspective and collaboration through their studies or research.
The Fulbright Scholarship presentation dinner will be held in Perth on Thursday.