Yorta Yorta nation takes world stage
Every year for the past four years the Goulburn Valley community has gathered to hear some of Australia’s most respected and influential politicians and business people deliver the Dungala Kaiela Oration, jointly hosted by the University of Melbourne and the Kaiela Institute.
The oration derives its title from the local Yorta Yorta people’s name for the mighty rivers which flow through their traditional homelands. They call the Murray River Dungala, and the Goulburn River, Kaiela.
“The Dungala Kaiela Oration is the signature event in the University calendar for the Goulburn Valley Indigenous partnership,” says Professor Ian Anderson, Director of the University of Melbourne’s Murrup Barak Institute for Indigenous Development.
“It provides a unique opportunity to bring high profile leaders in politics, business and the academy to challenge us about a possible vision for the cultural, social and economic development of Indigenous futures in the region.”
“And over the four years, it has given us an effective forum to celebrate Aboriginal cultural identity, create a shared vision for the people of the greater Goulburn Valley region, and promote Aboriginal cultural and socio-economic development.”
This year’s orator, Mr Brian Hartzer, came to Shepparton fresh from the pressure and uncertainty of a European business and political environment to offer his insight for the potential future growth and prosperity in the Goulburn Valley.
Mr Hartzer’s career has literally taken him around the world and back. This month he returned permanently to Australia to take up a position as the incoming chief executive officer of Westpac’s Australian Financial Services division to oversee the bank’s retail, commercial and wealth management businesses.
He comes to this new role from the United Kingdom where, since 2009, he had responsibility for Retail, Wealth and Ulster Bank for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, and was a member of the team credited with turning around the fortunes of RBS in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
This completed the circle, as Mr Hartzer joined RBS from ANZ in Australia, where he was Chief Executive Officer Australia and played a key role in the bank’s engagement with Indigenous issues and its commitment to Aboriginal employment. Prior to joining ANZ, he spent ten years as a financial services consultant in New York, San Francisco, and Melbourne.
With national and international financial experience this deep and broad, Mr Hartzer was eminently qualified to share with the Dungala Kaiela audience his insight on global trends, with specific relation to those business environments of particular interest to the Goulburn Valley, and offer his perspective on the pressures and opportunities local industries face and enjoy within the wider global context.
“Dispossession of Aboriginal lands, combined with generations of poor policy leadership and negative characterisation of Aboriginal people has created a hostile dependency on government,” says Paul Briggs, Executive Chairman of the Kaiela Institute.
“Aboriginal people are angry about being in this position, and the Australian taxpayer is angry that they have to support us.
“What Brian Hartzer has been gracious enough to do, in agreeing to deliver this year’s Dungala Kaiela Oration, is to virtually step off the global stage to challenge the City of Shepparton and Australian society generally with his vision of leadership to assure the prosperity of Aboriginal identity, culture and cultural expression.
“He has outlined national projections, under the theme of ‘Aboriginal Futures’, for the economic growth, implications and opportunities of Goulburn Valley industries, and the opportunity for Shepparton to capture and seize the moment, and in fact lead the rest of Australia – in particular the eastern seaboard and urban areas – in collaborating and designing rural communities like Shepparton.”
Professor Ian Anderson sees Brian Hartzer’s 2012 blueprint for the Goulburn Valley as a natural extension of the preconditions outlined by the previous Dungala Kaiela orators.
“Saul Eslake made reference to the need to establish a sovereign fund to drive the approach for economic vitality within the Goulburn Valley, Richard Goyder and Professor Marcia Langton outlined the responsibilities of organisations like Wesfarmers to establish the environment and conditions to create real jobs on the ground, and the Hon Carmen Lawrence and Aboriginal soprano Deborah Cheetham pointed to the role of social inclusion and the challenge for Australian society to address its history and drive an inclusive, culturally integrated future.
Paul Briggs agrees, and credits the Dungala Kaiela with the same lofty task all Australians share: “All it takes is for good people – instead of doing nothing – to take up the challenge. This is then transmitted to the next generation.”