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More than a word: How can economics contribute to indigenous reconciliation?

Reconciliation Australia's theme for 2021, "More than a word", highlights the need to convert awareness into action.

"For reconciliation to be effective, it must involve truth-telling, and actively address issues of inequality, systemic racism and instances where the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are ignored, denied or reduced."

Co-hosted by the ESA, WEN and Charles Darwin University (CDU), this event showcased recent contributions to research by economists in Australia on issues affecting the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as learning from the expertise of members of Australia’s Indigenous community.

Our academic speakers Professor Guyonne Kalb (Melbourne Institute) and Dr Maneka Jayasinghe (Charles Darwin University) will be joined by Renee Long (Charles Darwin University), an Aboriginal Territorian who has had an extensive career in the public sector in both State and Federal Governments.

During this webinar, technical issues prevented Renee's slides being displayed. View them here.

The presentation will include key findings from two recent papers on Indigenous wellbeing published in the Economic Society of Australia’s Economic Recordand Economic Papers.

1.  Childcare Use and Its Role in Indigenous Child Development: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia (F. Azpitarte, A. Chigavazira, G. Kalb, B.M. Farrant, F. Perales, S.R. Zubrick) (Link) (Awarded ESA Best Paper in 2019)


“We investigate patterns of childcare use and its influence on the cognitive development of Indigenous children. The influence of childcare on Indigenous children's cognitive outcomes is less well understood than for non-Indigenous children due to a lack of appropriate data. We focus on a cohort of Indigenous children in Australia who have been followed from infancy and for whom rich information on childcare use and cognitive outcomes is observed. Compared to Indigenous children who never participated in childcare, Indigenous children who participated in childcare performed better on several early cognitive outcomes. Using regression and propensity score matching, we show that this difference is driven by selection into childcare, with children from more advantaged families being more likely to attend formal childcare. However, matching analysis results suggest that relatively disadvantaged children might benefit more from attending childcare, as indicated by the positive estimated effects found for those who never attended childcare.”


2.  The Financial Resilience and Life Satisfaction Nexus of Indigenous Australians (M. Jayasinghe, E.A. Selvanathan and S. Selvanathan) (Link)


“Financial resilience is characterised by four sets of variables, namely economic resources, financial inclusion, financial capability and social capital. The purpose of this study is to examine the association between financial resilience and life satisfaction of Indigenous Australians using the (2014/2015) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey data. The results reveal that running out of money for living and problems in accessing financial services have significant negative implications on the life satisfaction of Indigenous Australians. The ability to raise money in an emergency, social connections and community support in times of crisis contributes to greater life satisfaction.” 

Ms Renee Long will present on the topic of “Achieving Indigenous economic participation by intervening around contracting conditions: Possibilities, issues and future challenges”. This presentation will discuss recent developments and policy options linked with favouring Indigenous businesses; public procurement approaches; distinctions around North versus South Australian perspectives; considering bureaucratic and transaction costs; evidence and demonstration of outcomes; and the need to link economic thinking to realistic policy design

Meet our Panel

Professor Guyonne Kalb

Guyonne Kalb is a Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. She has a PhD in Econometrics from Monash University. Before joining the Melbourne Institute in 2001, she worked at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, and at The Department of Econometrics at Monash University. She is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) and associate editor for Fiscal Studiesand co-editor of The Economic Record

Her research interests are mainly in the field of applied micro-economics and include labour supply issues, in particular female labour supply; the interaction of labour supply, social security and taxation; labour supply and childcare; and the impact of childcare/parental activities on child development and health. Her work is well-cited and includes over 60 refereed publications in national and international journals.In addition, she has been involved in several research projects providing evidence for policy makers, including a number of evaluation studies, such as the evaluation of the Paid Parental Leave scheme. She is currently leading the evaluation of the Future Directions policy, a large social housing policy reform in New South Wales, for the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. 

Dr Maneka Jayasinghe

Maneka Jayasingheis a Senior Lecturer in Economics in the Asia Pacific College of Business and Law at Charles Darwin University. She is an applied economist, with research interests in consumer demand analysis, poverty, inequality, and well-being, feminist economics, and tourism analysis. Her research has appeared in international refereed journals, such as Energy Economics, Social Indicators Research, Applied Economics, Journal of Refugee Studies, andInternational Journal of Tourism Research.





Ms Renee Long

Renee is an Aboriginal Territorian who has had an extensive career in the public sector in both State and Federal Governments. Renee was also the inaugural Chief Executive Officer for the Northern Territory Indigenous Business Network. Working across a broad range of projects that include policy development, program management and service delivery has led to developing strong knowledge of Aboriginal economic development and employment programs. Renee has almost completed her Master of Public Policy and has qualifications in Government Contracting and Procurement and PRINCE2 Project Management.




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