The Reserve Bank of Australia has no real solutions to solve First Nations access to capital
Australia is a vast country, home to its unique wildlife, and a melting pot of cultures. It also was and always will be home to its sovereign First Nations.
Some areas, such as the Northern Territory, make up over 30 per cent of the state’s population.
But First Nations people are severely underrepresented in financial services, compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts, because they don’t have easy access to banking options.
This is true for both urban and remote First Nations communities.
With more than 75 per cent having difficulty getting help from financial services and being unbanked or underbanked, it’s not surprising that there’s a lack of opportunities for First Nations economic development.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has little authority but holds significant clout in the financial sector.
The large banks happily accepted the recent increases in interest rates, which saw their profit margins increase too.
Despite its influence over the financial sector in Australia, the RBA has not yet established any beneficial policies to increase access to capital for First Nations, despite operating since 1960.
When I contacted the Reserve Bank of Australia to ask about this issue, a representative admitted it is indeed a problem.
The RBA representative told me solutions are not within the remit of their organisation, though they did suggest more government policy is probably needed to solve the problem.
Here’s hoping they understand the issues sooner rather than later.
The RBA’s own charter clearly states that the bank will focus on three areas of concern. One of these is the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.
Another is currency stability; so its recent increase in interest rates was not a solution to help reign in inflation?
Perhaps they can address only issues faced by non-Indigenous Australians?
In their Reconciliation Action Plan, they cite a vision for meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their role as Australia’s central bank.
Still, they have yet to offer any practical solutions to help improve economic conditions. How does that work?
How long do they have to take to ‘envision’ practical solutions?
Whether or not the RBA was expected to function as a financial institution to help First Nations, it was certainly expected to be responsible for providing economic prosperity and giving all Australians a fair go.
Unfortunately, the First Nations population has suffered from economic and social exclusion, including systemic under-representation in the central bank.
While it may not have been the intention of the RBA, the exclusion of its First People contributed to the legacy of poverty in First Nations communities.
- Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and Founder at Barayamal (Black Swan)