A City of Newcastle led Taskforce through the City Partnerships Challenge, is working with Miromaa Language and Technology Centre to increase authentic local Aboriginal tourism products in the Newcastle local government area. The initiative aims to engender a deeper understanding of local Aboriginal history and culture with visitors and the local community and to create employment, economic self-sufficiency, education and skills development opportunities for Aboriginal people. The project particularly targets indicators as part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities and SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.

The Taskforce, of which the University of Newcastle is a member, partnered with their Faculty of Business and Law, to work with two interns on an initial case study to build a business case for Miromaa.

Shahzaib Bukhari, an international student studying a Bachelor of Business said that working on the project not only gave him real world experience, but also a deeper understanding of Aboriginal cultures.

“Every country which consists of indigenous groups within it has got to protect the culture of these groups and promote them as much as they can, to not let them fade away. I am proud of working on this project and helping preserve Aboriginal culture.”

Laura Watt, a business student majoring in tourism and marketing also worked on the project and was proud of the work they were doing in collaboration with local Aboriginal communities, “This project has the ability to share accurate knowledge and authentic experiences with a wide variety of people. It also has the ability to build relationships and a sense of community between Aboriginal people and the wider community of Newcastle.”

Amber Stewart, Community Planner at City of Newcastle and lead on the project, said that working with the interns brought with it a range of skill sets and fresh thinking to the project across business, marketing and tourism, while providing the students a chance to put their studies into practice.

We also asked Amber how working with the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme on this project had made an impact on her personally, as well as how it may have influenced City of Newcastle regarding how they conduct their business more broadly;

“The networks and connections I have built, has had the most impact on me. The programme has connected me with influential people across a broad range of disciplines. I feel comfortable to reach out to these people due to the backing of my involvement in this programme. These connections will be valuable for years to come and span across a range of projects. I learnt a lot about utilising partnerships to build capacity for delivery of local projects. Local governments often focus on their set budgets and frameworks to deliver community outcomes, however the ability to tap into partners through shared value, has enabled us to build a project that has significant support without any budget. We still have a way to go in delivery yet we have a great base to start from.”

“I am proud of the diverse range of partners I was able to bring together on the Taskforce to provide their individual skill sets and knowledge to progressing this project. I am also proud that through this project City of Newcastle is delivering on a priority, identified and supported by the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee.”

The next steps identified are to finalise the business case, undertake further research in partnership with the University of Newcastle, build an investment prospectus and partner with investors to deliver.

Based on the results of this project so far, the University of Newcastle applied for and received a research grant through the Faculty of Business and Law to conduct further research with the topic, ‘A participatory place-based approach to the Indigenisation of Tourism: A pilot study in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.’

Amber said that since working on the project, “There is more awareness of the SDGs [within City of Newcastle] and more staff are thinking about their role in delivery. We are incorporating the SDGs into our corporate reporting, marketing and strategy development. Our Executive Leadership Team recognises the importance, influence and potential for partnerships these global goals provide at the local and regional level.”

Based on the success of this partnership so far, the University of Newcastle and the City of Newcastle are now looking at ways that they can expand their working relationship into more formal partnerships across both their organisations on further SDG initiatives and projects.