The recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody identified tourism as a potential source of private sector employment and enterprise development for Aboriginal people. The question arises as to how realistic this expectation is, given the findings of the 1994 Aboriginal Employment Development Policy (AEDP) mid-term review that Aboriginal people are reluctant to actively seek work in this sector of mainstream employment. This paper describes a commercial tourism venture in north Queensland which employs local Aboriginal people. As a case study, the venture provides a context for reflecting on wider AEDP issues associated with both private sector employment and regional economic development. The importance of the Tjapukai Dance Theatre is not simply its commercial success, or the fact that it operates without government subsidies, but that these result from a partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. An unintended consequence of the successful commercial partnership is the heightened profile of Djabugay people in the Cairns region. This is also reflected in their assertion of self-determination through a native title claim and a proactive engagement with wider regional economic opportunities in tourism development.
ISBN: 0 7315 1761X