Less than 10 per cent of companies mining in Australia have publicly stated their positions regarding engagement with Aboriginal communities, land rights, and the preservation of culturally significant sites, research shows.
Uni SA research found just 36 of 448 mining companies’ 2017 public reports mentioned Aboriginal community policies
Researchers found larger mining companies did better disclosing policies relating to Indigenous Australians
However, it said there was little evidence of Aboriginal people being included in corporate leadership
A Uni SA study assessed the 2017 annual and sustainability reports of 448 companies against a range of outcomes developed by Reconciliation Australia.
It found just 36 companies, or eight per cent, mentioned any ideology, policy, or initiatives related to Aboriginal people.
The report quoted Minerals Australia research that found more than 60 per cent of the country’s mines neighbour Aboriginal communities.
Larger companies better at disclosure
The research further analysed the 36 companies that did publicly disclose their policies and found that “large mining companies provided detailed disclosure on their Aboriginal engagement initiatives”.
It found “land use and native title agreements were the highest disclosed Aboriginal engagement issue”, which the research said was unsurprising given it was the only area governed by strict regulation.
Given broader reporting was voluntary, the report said a “low level of disclosure on Aboriginal engagement issues does not necessarily indicate a lack of effective engagement practices”.
Instead, it said there was a “need to develop an accounting and reporting framework at the organisational level to capture these social disclosures”.
‘Power imbalance’ still exists
Uni SA researcher Amanpreet Kaur said disclosures were important not only for the public, but for the “insight gained by the company itself, as [it] requires directors to carefully assess and plan their own course of action”.
Dr Kaur said the analysis also highlighted a lack of Indigenous people in senior leadership positions.
“We found there was a power imbalance,” she said.
The report said Aboriginal people were mostly employed in “supervisory roles or as individual contributors” with “little evidence … regarding their involvement in specialised and leadership roles”.
Rio Tinto was quoted as saying it was “proud to be one of the largest private sector employers of Indigenous Australians”.
It said it employed “1,431 full-time Indigenous employees … [which] represented approximately eight per cent of our Australian employees in 2017”.
But the research found those statistics did not translate into executive and leadership positions across the industry.
“Although the Aboriginal communities are regarded as traditional custodians and owners of mining lands, they are largely perceived as receivers of the benefits, not providers of resources that are crucial for mining companies and their businesses,” Dr Kaur said.
She said “Aboriginal communities were largely treated as a marginalised stakeholder group, similar to women”.
Indigenous leadership could help avoid mistakes
Dr Kaur said a greater concentration of Indigenous people in leadership positions could help to prevent incidents like the destruction at Juukan Gorge.
“That will give Aboriginal communities power to control what happens and is something that is really needed to minimise or reduce – or even possibly eliminate, if that’s possible – such incidents,” she said.
Dr Kaur also said companies would likely benefit from Aboriginal employees’ executive input.
“They have thousands of years of knowledge and expertise of land management and the local environment,” she said.
Dr Kaur said progress was being made, with some companies in particular “fostering meaningful engagement with marginalised stakeholders by acknowledging the expertise of the Aboriginal community in local environmental and cultural sustainability”.
“The next phase of our research will construct a framework for companies to develop these kinds of disclosure statements to help them learn from each other and ensure there are techniques for evaluating their effectiveness.”
Only one in seven students in the NT’s remote Indigenous communities and homelands attended government schools on most days of the week in 2019, new data reveals.
The NT Education Department’s annual report showed attendance at government schools for Aboriginal children in the NT was 32 per cent in 2019
A breakdown of the data shows in remote Indigenous communities the rate of attendance was 14 per cent
Remote residents say more local teachers in schools and support for families will help
The figures were not included in the NT Education Department’s most recent annual report, which revealed only 32 per cent of Aboriginal students enrolled at primary and secondary government schools — including in urban centres — were going to school at least four days a week last year.
But the report did not disclose the breakdown for “very remote” students.
Now, new figures released by the department to the ABC paint a more accurate picture of engagement at remote community schools and in smaller communities called homelands.
There are more than 70 remote communities in the NT and about 500 homelands, which fall under the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ “very remote” classification.
More than 7,800 students attend government schools in these regions.
The department’s new figures show since 2016, the attendance rate in those “very remote” areas dropped from 19 per cent to 14 per cent in 2019.
‘People aren’t buying the product’
The figures represent the period the Labor Government led by Chief Minister Michael Gunner has been in office.
Before winning the NT election in 2016, Mr Gunner promised a focus on early childhood education to prepare children aged 0-4 and their families for engagement in school.
NT Education Minister Lauren Moss says the NT Government has expanded the Families as First Teachers early childhood education program in several communities. The program supports families prior to children entering school.
But the Australian Education Union’s NT branch president Jarvis Ryan said while that program had shown some success it was not enough.
“We need to ask the questions, why aren’t students engaging, why aren’t families engaging?”
The NT Education Department’s new chief executive Karen Weston, said attendance figures did not reflect the success a small number of schools had been having with engagement.
“There are pockets where [engagement] seems to be done well, and other places where that’s in the early stages of being built,” Ms Weston said.
“There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what we know and what we’re trying to teach children, as opposed to what community wants their children to learn, so how do we bring that together?”
More support for schools and families: educator
When asked what could help engage remote community students in school, Angelina Joshua from the language centre in the remote community of Ngukurr, 640 kilometres south-east of Darwin, said more local teachers and support for families would help.
Ms Joshua has previously helped teach children the Marra traditional language at Ngukurr’s government school, where 97 per cent of students speak languages other than English.
“More languages and more local Indigenous teachers who could give support and encouragement to kids to go to school every day,” Ms Joshua said.
Funding for the school program Ms Joshua has been involved in is due to expire in April next year and staff at the language centre say they have been unable to secure further funding.
Ms Joshua also said support for struggling families should not be overlooked.
“Maybe have an activity for the mothers, a little workshop to brainstorm stuff to do to be stronger, to encourage your kids to go to school.”
But Ms Weston said while she viewed bilingual education as important, she needed confirmation about funding availability to commit further support.
“We’ve got a fixed budget so we need to look at how are we using the resources in the department, it’s still a little bit early for me to say,” she said.
In recent years the NT and federal governments have run programs to lift school attendance.
A federally funded truancy policy promoted by former Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion included a scheme that docked parents’ welfare payments if they failed to meet an attendance plan for their children.
This approach was scrapped in 2017 around the same time an external review of the NT Government’s Indigenous Education Strategy found there was no evidence the policies were improving attendance.
Ms Moss recently said “engagement” with children and families would remain her focus, while the Country Liberals Opposition has been pushing for a revival of truancy officers.
Ms Moss also said sites for a pilot “revival” of the Remote Aboriginal Teacher Education (RATE) program to provide education pathways for local educators would be chosen before the end of this year.
But the education union’s Jarvis Ryan said one problem was that a 2016 NT Labor election promise of new funds to provide local Indigenous teachers with housing that met the same standard as housing provided to non-Indigenous government recruits, had not been fulfilled.
THE MOST ardent romances result in the most acrimonious divorces. In the case of Tiffany and LVMH, rancour preceded the nuptials. In the amorous phase the French luxury giant behind Louis Vuitton had described the American purveyor of engagement rings as a corporate jewel, agreeing to a $17bn takeover ten months ago. It used an altogether less romantic tone in a Delaware court filing this week as it tried to break the match. Investors, meanwhile, are betting on a happy ending.
Rumours had swirled since the start of the covid-19 pandemic in March that Bernard Arnault, boss of LVMH, wanted to renegotiate the punchy price tag agreed on in November. On September 9th LVMH announced it could not go ahead with the deal, for an unexpected reason: a letter from the French minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, had asked it to defer the planned takeover of its American target to January 2021, beyond the agreed closing date. The delay would apparently give France more cards in a festering transatlantic trade spat.
Tiffany accused LVMH of engineering the supposed block from the foreign ministry—which soon insisted its letter was merely a polite recommendation, not an order. LVMH vehemently denied asking the authorities to intervene. Unhelpfully, on September 22nd Mr Le Drian told the French parliament he had indeed stepped in only after LVMH had come to him.
The American jeweller has thus sued LVMH to pony up. On September 28th LVMH countersued, saying that Tiffany was no longer worth buying. It called Tiffany’s performance since covid-19 broke out “catastrophic”. This, LVMH claimed, had left the jeweller with “dismal” prospects. The pandemic, it added, amounted to a “material adverse effect” that gave the putative buyer grounds for termination.
Tiffany is having none of it. It responded that LVMH was still legally committed to walk down the corporate aisle. Though covid-19 has indeed dented profits, things are already perking up, Tiffany says, whatever its erstwhile admirer may claim. LVMH was dragging its feet before the foreign ministry’s intervention, for example by delaying notifying antitrust authorities.
Delaware courts usually take a dim view of buyer’s remorse. Only once before have they agreed to a deal being broken off on grounds of material adverse effect. That might explain Tiffany’s buoyant share price. At around $116, it is well down on the $135 LVMH agreed to pay, but comfortably above the $90 at which it traded before Mr Arnault came along.
The premium suggests Tiffany remains a takeover target. Indeed, the most likely suitor is still thought to be LVMH. Most investors think the two sides will kiss and make up before a trial planned in January, perhaps arriving at a slightly lower price. There are few obvious rival buyers for the jeweller, whose brand could use some of Mr Arnault’s marketing nous. The luxury tycoon still craves legendary marques to add to the LVMH harem. Once the lawyers exhaust themselves, expect love—not least of profits—to find a way. ■
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Letting go lightly”
Married At First Sight star Susie Bradley has confirmed she is engaged to NRL star Todd Carney.
Bradley shared the exciting news with her Instagram followers on Tuesday with behind-the-scenes video of the former rugby league bad boy being interviewed for TV.
After her ill-fated marriage with barista Billy Vincent on the hit Channel 9 show, Bradley was spotted out in public with Carney as early as March, 2019.
The on-again-off-again couple recently got back together at the end of 2019 and it appears the pair can’t live without each other.
Bradley confirmed the swirling engagement rumours that have followed them in recent weeks when she referred to Carney as her “fiance” in an Instagram clip posted Tuesday.
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The 27-year-old captioned the video: “When your sexy fiance is filming for Channel Seven”.
Carney was speaking after he helped launch SocialBase – an app that aims to stop damaging social media posts before they happen.
Carney, who now lives on Queensland’s Gold Coast where he works as a concreter, says he’s found peace in his life and wants athletes across the country to learn from his mistakes.
SocialBase was developed by his lifelong best mate Mitchell Micallef, and Carney has been in from the ground floor.
They are hoping to soon launch what they’re describing as the “Todd Carney feature”, which would require a club’s social media manager to approve any post before it’s posted to social media.
Carney shot into the NRL spotlight as a 17-year-old; however, his career was derailed by a series of off-field incidents that saw him sacked from Canberra and released by the Sydney Roosters before the infamous bubbler incident at Cronulla saw him ultimately exiled from the NRL.
The bubbler photo, which was taken inside the male toilets at the Northies club at Cronulla, was not put to social media by Carney, but he says players shouldn’t let dumb posts cost them their livelihoods.
“Players might not mean to do it, sometimes you could be on the devil’s drink at two in the morning and post something, but at least now you know someone’s there to look over your post,” Carney said.
“We’re all adults here but you can do some silly things, so hopefully we can limit that.”
Various studies in the past five years have revealed that Australian workplaces are among the worst in the world when it comes to employee engagement. The reputable Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found in 2017 that only 14 per cent of Australian and NZ employees were engaged at work, with 71 per cent not engaged and an alarming 15 per cent actively disengaged.
If a business didn’t have employee engagement high on their agenda before COVID-19, they must seriously consider how, in a world where workforces are in many cases are split or even working completely remotely, they not only monitor employee engagement but look to improve it. And, now more than ever, having some way of testing how your team is feeling, especially when they’re remote, is vital.
Here are five ways to improve engagement in the COVID workplace:
Clarity in communication. Set clear objectives, priorities and timeframes when preparing and delegating tasks. Consider using the S.P.O.R.T model; situation, purpose, outcome, resources and time frame. Following this framework comprehensively takes people on the journey and covers all relevant communication.
Test the culture. Whilst we are all or part working from home and still unsure of when we can re-enter the workplace we need to seek an objective approach to understand the climate of our team understanding the team. During these uncertain times, a team culture diagnostic should be part of a business’s long-term operational rhythm. Engagement surveys have been around for a long time but a team culture diagnostic enables you to really understand what to improve.
Offer reassurance and support to those who may be worried about job security. This may be a simple one on one conversation to let your team members know that you are all in this together and confirm they will be advised of any changes as they arise.
Be flexible in allowing provisions to look after children and deal with COVID related restrictions. As families are forced into new environments with children requiring to be homeschooled it is important to be flexible and trust that our team will complete their tasks at the best possible time for their family. This may be late at night when their house is quiet. Again, this is why clarity in communication is the number one way to improve engagement in the COVID workplace.
Maintain employee reward and acknowledgement programs. Bonuses may not be feasible for businesses right now but it should not stop you from rewarding those who have worked hard and achieved great results. Why not hold an awards night via Zoom?
Team culture and engagement needs to be a focus area during these times. Using the five steps provided will give you the best possible opportunity for creating a well-engaged team.
Kirk Peterson, Founder and Managing Director, Performance Shift
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is seen during a news conference in Santiago, Chile, July 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido/File Photo
April 22, 2020
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund’s discussions with Argentina have been very productive and the fund is willing to do whatever it can to help get the Argentine economy back on a solid footing, an IMF official told reporters on Wednesday.
The fund is closely tracking Argentina’s discussions with its creditors, and is hopeful that an agreement can be reached to restore the South American country’s debt sustainability, the official said.
Argentina, gripped by a recession for the last two years, is racing to head off a ninth sovereign default even as the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic looks set to trigger a deeper downturn in its economy.
Argentina last week unveiled a proposal to restructure around $66.2 billion of its foreign debt that would include a three-year moratorium on payments and reduce coupon payments by around 62%.
“We’re continuing to track the ongoing discussions that Argentina is having with private creditors. I think we’re hopeful that at some point there’s an agreement that can be reached there that would restore debt sustainability,” the IMF official said.
The official added that the global lender was exploring options to help countries like Argentina that faced debt challenges, while sticking to its own strict guidelines aimed at safeguarding the fund’s resources.
“We’ve trying to explore every avenue to see what we can do to be of assistance,” the official said, but declined to provide further details.
The IMF separately extended Argentina $44 billion as part of a 2018 agreement. Argentina in February agreed to start Article IV consultations with the IMF and opened the door to a new program, but it has not formally initiated those steps.
“Our conversations with Argentina have been very productive,” the official added. “We are willing to do whatever we can to help Argentina get its economy back on a solid footing.”
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Richard Chang)