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Indigenous Excellence: a Soft Power Asset for Australia

Group photo of members of the Raising the Bar design group.
Songkeepers Film Director, Naina Sen, and Damien Miller, Assistant Secretary, Soft Power Partnerships and Research Branch, DFAT. Business Council of Australia. Soft Power Review Consultations in Darwin, 2018. Credit: Sarah Leary, DFAT.

Indigenous excellence is a genuine soft power asset for Australia. It offers a unique point of connection with other peoples and cultures.

DFAT is committed to promoting the excellence of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the world, through our extensive diplomatic network.

Once built, these connections can create a world of other opportunities in other areas of our relationships, deepening our links in the region in a lasting way.

We have heard this story time and again over the past few months while travelling to centres around Australia to engage with communities as we develop the first ever review of Australia's soft power.

Some of Australia's best soft power assets are outside of government and we want to make sure we draw on diverse Australian perspectives from a broad cross-section of the community.

This includes Indigenous leaders in culture and the arts, science, business and sport who promote Australia's soft power every day in their work, including through their partnerships with businesses, individuals and creatives in other countries.

We want to generate new ideas and thinking on Australia's soft power assets and partnerships, as well as policy options for maximising our reputation and prosperity in the future.

While readers of business envoy may be familiar with popular Indigenous exports and identities like Bangarra, Jessica Mauboy and Baker Boy, our exceptional Indigenous talent does in fact stretch much broader and deeper into the community, capturing dynamic Indigenous leaders excelling in sectors such as science and research, business, tech, sport, health and education.

Many people experience aspects of Indigenous culture overseas through our rich touring visual and performing arts exhibitions – this will always be a central aspect of DFAT's public diplomacy efforts overseas.

At the same time, we're keen for Australian diplomats and business leaders to celebrate the wealth of creative talent in other parts of our Indigenous community too – connecting Indigenous businesses, innovators, researchers and sports leaders with the world in lasting and meaningful ways.

Lately we've been blown away by the story of tech entrepreneurs Julie-ann Lambourne and Mikaela Jade – who represent some of the very best of Indigenous creative leadership in Australia today.

Through their respective tech start-ups enVizion and Indigital Storytelling, they are teaming virtual reality technology with traditional knowledge and culture to help communities across Northern Australia access education and training solutions in innovative ways.

They're also taking these innovations to the world, engaging with tech developers in Indonesia and India this year in collaboration with DFAT posts.

We're keen to do more to showcase the breadth and depth of Indigenous excellence in the years to come as a cornerstone of Australia's soft power. So watch this space.

Learn more at Soft Power Review

Last Updated: 10 January 2019
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