CANBERRA, AAP – Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle concedes the central bank’s mandate doesn’t address the critical issues specific to Australia’s First Nations people, but it aiming to do more.
Dr Debelle was part of an online symposium on Indigenous economies, which also involved officials from the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
The RBA’s mandate is to contribute to the stability of the currency, full employment and the economic prosperity and welfare of all Australians.
“The reality is our setting of monetary policy, beyond providing a strong overall Australian economy, won’t address the critical issues specific to First Nations peoples,” Dr Debelle told the panel discussion on Tuesday.
“These issues include lower life expectancy and worse health outcomes than other Australians, lower employment participation, higher unemployment and lower wealth.”
But he said the RBA was taking the opportunity to deepen its understanding of the First Nations people.
“As the nation moves forward in the reconciliation movement with First Nations peoples and their communities, we have made a commitment to the reconciliation process, alongside other corporate, government and community organisations,” he said.
Under the RBA’s reconciliation action plan, it aims to increase awareness and respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, build relationships and provide opportunities.
It is also putting together a scholarship program for First Nations high school students to study economics and finance.
At the same time the RBA is working with First Nations businesses and Indigenous Chambers of Commerce throughout Australia to gain a further understanding of the problems businesses face in obtaining capital.
“We know that lower home ownership to borrow against and parents with the lack of wealth to put into a new business are two such challenges,” Dr Debelle said.
“But we are keen to understand what other factors are at play. While it is beyond our remit to shape policy in these areas, we can help improve understanding of the issues and possible solutions.”
Dr Debelle will take part in a lunchtime “fireside chat” at the ACI Australia Conference in Sydney later on Tuesday.