Date posted: 10/07/2019 5 min read

Economic independence rebuilds culture

Finance manager Angela Huston CA talks about empowering Indigenous Australians to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

In Brief

  • Economic independence paves the way for greater cultural capacity.
  • Healing intergenerational trauma requires recognition and acceptance of the past.
  • Cultural awareness training in organisations can play an important role.

I'm all about Aboriginal people becoming self-sufficient and being heard. I believe economic independence paves the road to people getting their cultural capacity back and engaging with it.  It’s the part I love most about my job.

For Aboriginal people to now be able to have a voice and be heard is very empowering.  I made a conscious decision to work with Aboriginal businesses because I really wanted to add value. You hear a lot about organisations that don't have adequate financial control.

For me, it's really about making sure my people have access to good economic growth.

Gidarjil Development Corporation is an Aboriginal-owned organisation in Bundaberg that does everything from having land and sea rangers to language reclamation, employment and training and artist development just for Indigenous people. Their sole focus is improving economic outcomes for their people.  The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation is the prescribed body corporate that is helping to build the economic base for the Quandamooka people. The Corporation manages the rights and interests of the Quandamooka people following Native Title Determination. 

Angela at the 8th anniversary of native title determination for the Quandamooka people,  July 2019

Angela at the 8th anniversary of native title determination for the Quandamooka people,  July 2019

Starting out

When I left school, I did an associate diploma in Aquatic Resource Management but in those days, we were told, "Look girls, you're not actually going to get a job doing this." I decided to do a Bachelor of Business because I'd already done the associate diploma. I don't come from a wealthy family, so I did my degree externally while working in an accounting firm. I started out in a chartered accounting firm doing bookkeeping, and then moved into an accounting role.

In the beginning, it was a very big workload in an environment that I was completely unfamiliar with. I grew up in a very small country town. Nobody in my family had ever gone to university, so I didn't really have any role models; I was just forging my own path.

I've been very fortunate to work for partners that were very encouraging and recognised my skills. After completing my professional year, I moved into more of a business consulting role. I created one-page reports for clients, analysed cash flows and budgets and created documents for business planning.