Aboriginal Economic Development Program

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development's (DPIRD) Aboriginal Economic Development (AED) program builds the capacity of Aboriginal people to participate in the Western Australian economy. 

The AED program unlocks, activates and accelerates business and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. Projects are co-designed and delivered in partnership with Aboriginal people, businesses and other entities.

Partnership is the key to lasting project outcomes, and empowering Aboriginal people to choose their own futures from a secure foundation. 


DPIRD’s Aboriginal Economic Development (AED) program aims to increase the economic participation of Aboriginal people in Western Australia by unlocking and activating Aboriginal business, workforce, and opportunities for long term wealth creation and economic empowerment. AED is a pathway for Aboriginal people to improve their social outcomes and change the trajectory of their own lives.

Each AED project is unique but built on a core foundation of relationships, partnerships and capacity building. Projects start with the fostering of mutually respectful relationships and trust with Aboriginal people, to discover their aspirations. Goals are matched with opportunities and DPIRD puts in place the capacity building supports and partnerships needed to activate change.

Aboriginal people are included in the design and delivery of the projects that will impact them. Projects will be ineffective if Aboriginal people feel that decisions and initiatives are imposed rather than community owned.

Partnerships, preferrably with Aboriginal entities, provide the resources needed to bring projects to life. The focus is on building capacity in business governance, leadership and industry skills, to create career pathways and ensure Aboriginal businesses become stable and self-sustaining.

The achievement of sustainble outcomes may require a long term commitment, and partners are sometimes leveraged for ongoing project funding, and the delivery of long term capacity building supports. Other partners may include Regional Development Commissions, industry, Government and non-Government groups. 

This approach is the key to lasting project outcomes. DPIRD's AED projects are demonstrated and scalable models that can be expanded and replicated by other organisations - increasing the breadth of successful AED in WA. 

Two women looking at pastoral land

Strategic focus

The AED Program is focused on opportunities for Aboriginal economic participation within WA’s primary industries and regions, and through Whole-of-Government initiatives.

The AED Program of Work is built around opportunity areas such as Native Title and divestment, emerging land and sea-based primary industry sectors, the Aboriginal pastoral estate, industry labour shortages, and regional procurement.

AED projects and initiatives are focused on the long term, to facilitate a flourishing and self-sustaining Aboriginal business sector, career pathways for Aboriginal people, and lasting economic empowerment. This is the key to sustainable and lasting improvements to Aboriginal economic outcomes in WA.

Strategic approach

The AED Program is designed and delivered through a well thought out strategic approach.

All projects are aimed at growing Aboriginal business, increasing Aboriginal employment, and facilitating opportunities for wealth creation and economic empowerment. They are aligned with a strategic approach developed by DPIRD to unlock and activate opportunity areas through diverse and tailored delivery methods.

Supports may be delivered through DPIRD's AED Unit, or the Unit might facilitate and coordinate support through Regional Development Commissions and external service providers, or through negotiated partnerships. Aboriginal owned and operated service providers are engaged wherever possible. 

Strategies include:

  • Tailored case management support for Aboriginal pastoral, farming and fisheries enterprises.
  • Unlocking opportunities and developing resources to increase Aboriginal participation in emerging land and sea-based primary industries.
  • Engaging service providers to deliver business planning, governance and leadership support for Aboriginal people looking to create new businesses, or to grow and diversify.
  • Supporting the economic aspirations of Aboriginal entities (including Prescribed Bodies Corporate) involved in Native Title negotiations and ALT divestments through economic mapping, strategic planning and project development.
  • Facilitating procurement support for Aboriginal entities interested in Government tenders and the Local Content Initiative (buy close to home). 
  • Working in partnership with industry to create training to employment pathways, to support careers and grow an Aboriginal workforce for primary industries and the regions. 
  • Support DPIRD's Whole-of-Government commitments and initiatives to improve socioeconomic outcomes for Aboriginal people in WA. 
Page last updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2023 - 5:10pm