There are 27 self-identified Indigenous Australian accountants.
It’s just a statistic but, when you weigh it against the total number of around 200,000 qualified accountants in Australia, its significance truly hits home.
The good news is there is call for change, championed by Deakin Business School through the Indigenous Accounting and Business Conference, which will bring together academics, leaders in business and Indigenous organisations, and accounting professionals to encourage prospective Indigenous Australian students to look at money management as a career.
Relatively few Indigenous students take up accounting because according to research, money has not traditionally been a part of the conversation, says Luisa Lombardi, senior lecturer at Deakin Business School.
‘The perception is that, historically, there has been a lack of awareness of the usefulness of accounting, shaped by the view held by Indigenous people of the traditional role money has played in their own lives and the lives of others in their communities,’ says Dr Lombardi.
‘Research has shown that for many, money has been viewed as welfare, and the business of money has often been seen as a non-Indigenous field.’
The conference, which will be held September 2 to 3 at Melbourne's RACV City Club, will feature keynote speakers Professor Marcia Langton, foundation chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, and Russell Taylor, principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
Speakers at the conference will look at the way other countries – particularly Canada, the United States and New Zealand – have bolstered the numbers of Indigenous students in accounting studies.
Greater numbers of Indigenous students enrol in university courses such as medicine, law, education and nursing, but too few are making the choice of accounting as a study and career option.
‘Greater take up of accounting studies by Indigenous peoples means empowering individuals and entire communities to regain control of their own money,' Dr Lombardi says.
‘There is a need for more Indigenous accountants to help look after their own communities. Accountancy by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people.’
For more information on the conference and to register, click here.