Project number: 2016-206
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $225,000.00
Principal Investigator: Jill Briggs
Organisation: Affectus Pty Ltd
Project start/end date: 6 Mar 2016 - 28 Jun 2018


Fisheries Research Development Corporation Indigenous Reference Group (FRDC-IRG) has identified the following need:-
Indigenous business development opportunities and impediments in the fishing and seafood industry, the components that have been detailed by the FRDC-IRG include understanding opportunities and impediments for business development, identify the supply chain and research business structures to build enterprise development.

The indigenous fishing sector have commenced the important work of building businesses that can provide product needed by the market and communities; develop employment opportunities for indigenous people; community development through economic development and; recognition of the value of indigenous people and their knowledge and skills.

Additionally this project will address needs developed through the FRDC Indigenous Reference Group principles developed in Cairns in 2012. This project address Principle 4 RD&E - Leads to Improved Capacity That Empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Against the IRG document the project will also address the following identified concepts:-
• Provide Resourcing Options in a User Friendly and Culturally Appropriate Manner to Encourage Greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Involvement
• Leads to Agencies Developing Capacity to Recognise and Utilise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Expertise, Processes and Knowledge
• Leads To an Increased Value for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Economic, Social, Cultural, Trade, Health, Environmental)
• Leads To Benefit Sharing

This project will also address a number of key areas in the Federal Governments ‘Our North, Our Future – White Paper.’ Specifically it will move some way to addressing these areas:-
• Making it easier to use natural assets, in close consultation with, and the support of,
• Indigenous communities
• Investing in infrastructure to lower business and household costs
• Reducing barriers to employing people
• Improving governance.


1. An analysis tool to assess the success elements of indigenous fishing businesses and non-fishing indigenous businesses
2. A gap analysis of skills available and skills needed to develop and/or enhance the skills of people involved in indigenous fishing businesses.
3. Draft and finalise a Business template with conversation and workshop materials to enhance the indigenous communities connected to indigenous fishing
4. Enhance the business skills of indigenous fishing communities through the delivery of workshops, community conversations and virtual information sharing sessions

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9872781-6-6
Author: Jill Briggs
Final Report • 2020-07-06 • 3.28 MB


The Business Nous Project (BN) research and outputs have been finalised in November 2019 with the completion of the website and workshop outputs and the project evaluation. The project delivered successfully on three of the four objectives with the workshop component of the project is being held in abeyance until specific groups and/or communities are identified.

Twenty-two individuals from twenty-one existing, closed or about to commence businesses were interviewed. These twenty-two people were drawn from a range of locations but were from Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Interviewees were drawn from many age groups, but the highest percentage were from the 55+ age group. Both males and females were interviewed the gender bias was skewed to males. Interviewees were from both fishing and non-fishing businesses and most were sole traders.

The interviewees were generous with their information and were able to provide insight into the skills and knowledge they had used to build and grow their businesses. The interviewees were also able to detail the areas of knowledge that all business owners should have been commencing or running a business.

The findings from twenty-one interviews were the base for developing the information presented on the Business Nous website. However, it should be noted that this output was modified from a decision-making tree. The working group presented the decision-making tree to the Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) and the consensus was that the decision-making tree would either be too complex or too simplistic in assisting Indigenous fishers with relevant fishing business nous.

The key findings suggest that to manage and/or own an Indigenous fishing business, standard principles need to be followed and structures implemented. Business concepts that most business owners understand such as:

Staff Management
Planning and marketing

All of the interviewees indicated that they understood and adopted many of the above and one business embraced all standard business practices covered by the questionnaire.

Additionally, the Indigenous business owners interviewed highlighted a second layer of expectations that were regularly considered when planning for and opening a business. This additional layer of requirements included consideration for:

Community expectations.
Cultural obligations.
Guidance from Elders. 
Consideration of Traditional Knowledge.

The above and other expectations highlighted one of the fundamental questions the working group considered - Is it different for Indigenous people to plan and operate a successful fishing business?

The BN project has developed materials that will assist people think through the essential elements when operating a fishing business.

The three main outputs for Indigenous fishing businesses are:

Business Nous Website – 
Business Nous promotional videos –
Business Nous workshop materials – found in Appendix 9

There are key project materials that have been managed to ensure the above outputs were delivered.

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