Project Title: 

Natural Resource Development, Privatized Aid, and Sport for Development: An Australian case study


In Australia, successive Federal Governments have had Indigenous policy as priority areas. Building on the 2008 National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples made by the then Labor Government, a long-term ‘Closing the Gap’ (CTG) framework was developed and subsequently agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (Aust’n Gov’t, DPMC 2016a). The current Coalition Government has moved to a new approach: the Indigenous Advancement Strategy that is housed under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) (Aust’n Gov’t, DPMC 2016b). While DPMC still reports on progress related to the CTG targets, the policy focus is on new programme streams related to jobs, land and economy, children and schooling, safety and wellbeing, culture and capability, and remote Australia strategies. Of greatest relevance to this research is the jobs, land and economy stream where support is provided to communities related to the leveraging of land assets to create economic opportunities. Moreover, across all policies, the potential role of private sectors in economic (extractive) development is emphasised.

My proposed research has three key objectives: First, to investigate how the politics of privatized aid provided by the extractives sector shape SFD initiatives in Australia; second, to examine the benefits and challenges involved in new partnerships between the private companies that fund SFD initiatives, the NPOs that deliver them, and the communities that are meant to benefit from them; and third, to better understand the broader implications that the corporatization of aid has on the state's involvement in the provision of services to marginalized populations.

The five key research questions are:

  1. How and why have private-public-NPO partnerships for SFD emerged?
  2. What are the challenges and benefits of private-public-NPO partnerships for SFD initiatives?
  3. Upon what discourses do stakeholders in private-public-NPO partnerships for SFD draw to explain/justify their involvement in such partnerships (e.g., in particular, do they draw on discourses pertaining to sustainability, community engagement, development, autonomy, self-determination and empowerment)? How do these discourses differ between the various partners?
  4. Has the provision of funding by extractive companies to SFD programs with Indigenous and marginalized communities in Australia influenced these communities' ability to address and negotiate issues concerning self-determination and sovereignty?
  5. Has the provision of SFD through partnerships with extractive companies resulted in the retreat of state-funded programs that would otherwise be used to meet the goals set out by SFD initiatives (e.g., staying in school, pre-employment training, and youth leadership initiatives).

Informed by best practices in Indigenous methodologies, I propose to make use a participatory approach (Jagosh et al., 2012) to conduct an instrumental case study with an Indigenous community who are supported, and provided with pathways through education and employment, by a sporting organisation who are in partnership with an extractive industry. Finally, through my participatory approach, I will prioritize the voices of those targeted by SFD initiatives.

References cited

Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2016a Closing the Gap. Retrieved from
Australian Government, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2016b Indigenous advancement strategy. Retrieved from