Indigenous economic development

Memorandum of Understanding on Indigenous Employment and Enterprise Development

First established in 2005 and re-signed in 2008, the Commonwealth – MCA MoU on Indigenous Employment and Enterprise Development was an innovative partnership that sought to catalyse community development through a joint commitment between the mining industry and federal and state governments.

The MoU achieved local community capacity building; increased connection between industry, government and local communities; empowered community governance; and delivered jobs.


The vision of the MCA and its member companies is a thriving minerals industry working in partnership with Indigenous communities for the present and future development of mineral resources, and their contribution to the establishment of vibrant, diversified and sustainable regional economies.

From this, the MoU partnership aimed to improve the socioeconomic wellbeing of Indigenous Australians by expanding access to employment and business development opportunities available to Indigenous people and communities in mining regions.

Regional Partnership Agreements were established to support employment and enterprise development in six regions: Central Australia (Tanami), East Kimberley, Gnaala Karla Booja, Pilbara, Western Cape York, Wiluna.

Approximately $2 million in matched government and industry funding was allocated over the ten years of the MoU (2005-15).

The MoU was overseen by a joint industry and government national steering committee supported by regional partnership steering committees and coordinators for each region comprising industry partners, and federal and state government representatives.

Assessments in 2008 and 2011 informed the MoU’s continuation and final extension to 2015.

Final outcomes

The remaining regional partnerships for 2013-15 delivered a number of local community development successes including:

  • Weipa – commitment by the Queensland government with Rio Tinto to continue Indigenous mentoring and adult literacy programs, and the pilot business hub established connecting industry procurement opportunities to Indigenous businesses
  • Wiluna – establishment of a local community governance group - the Muntjiltjarra Wurrgumu Group -responsible for an award winning survey on community development needs, and the delivery of careers days linking the community to employment opportunities and pre-qualification assistance
  • Labour mobility in Central Australia – the development of a labour mobility model connecting community demands to employment needs in regions to inform industry and government service delivery employment strategies.

The MCA thanks its industry and government partners and acknowledges their enormous contribution over the past ten years to make this MoU a success. The MoU reinforces the importance of industry-government partnership in leveraging community social investment to close the gap.

The MoU assisted in informing new design of government service delivery (the Remote Jobs and Communities Program) in remote and regional Australia. It demonstrates the importance of local representation working closely with communities to drive outcomes based on their needs linked to opportunities in local industries.

It highlights the power of multi-stakeholder initiatives where shared aspirations and efforts can be expanded upon via collaboration to create societal value from minerals development.