How to embrace your local indigenous community in your event

As a way for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games to meaningfully include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, they has done something no other major sporting event in the world has done: develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to leave a lasting and meaningful legacy for Indigenous Australians beyond the traditional inclusion of culture in Opening Ceremonies.

The RAP specifies how to increase opportunities for indigenous Australians through employment and training, business development, participation in sports and volunteering, showcasing Indigenous arts and cultures in the Games, building a culturally-capable workforce, and via procurement from Indigenous-owned businesses. 

Image: Welcome to Country at the DestinationQ Event Forum in Toowoomba earlier this year.


Smaller events and festivals can also create a RAP to drive social change in their own backyards, creating economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples in their communities based on taking small steps together. 

The framework for a RAP is provided by Reconciliation Australia. There are four kinds of RAP that can transition from one stage to the next to recognise Indigenous culture, leverage economic and social opportunities, and leave legacy outcomes:

  • Reflect
  • Innovate
  • Stretch
  • Elevate


  • Commit to include them
  • Use indigenous-owned businesses (such as printers, farmers, chefs, trainees, sports coaches) or purchase from companies that have indigenous staff, are social enterprise businesses, or that have their own RAP
  • Employ indigenous people as professionals, trainees and volunteers
  • Help to increase the capacity of indigenous businesses with pre-tendering workshops and meet the buyer opportunities
  • Increase indigenous participation through schools, arts and youth

How can you practically do this in your event’s management?

  • Start with a vision of inclusion
  • Use existing networks in your community to find out who to talk with
  • Leverage government agencies
  • Be open and transparent in your engagement
  • Manage expectations, recognising it’s not possible to please everyone
  • Be open to change, such as in using different suppliers


Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
Black Business Finder (QLD's Aboriginal Business Directory) 
Supply Nation


One of Australia’s unique advantages is our indigenous culture – an advantage of tourism offerings to both international and domestic markets. Do you have a success story to share of working in events as Aborigines or Torres Strait Islanders or with them in a event partnership?


Cully Fest is an Aboriginal and Outback cultural festival being held in Toowoomba 17-19 November and giving access to many passionate and knowledgeable Aboriginal musicians, artists, storytellers and dancers sharing the hands-on experience of their culture through workshops, talks and performances:

  • Didgeridoo making and playing
  • Aboriginal language classes
  • Aboriginal dance classes
  • Bush tucker exploration
  • Storytelling
  • Aboriginal Artefacts

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