Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Youngmi Choi
Researcher, Centre for International Research on Communication and Information Technologies,
RMIT University, Melbourne

Social, Cultural and Communication Issues in the 'Aboriginal E-Commerce' Project -
Making a Pathway to the Mainstream Market

This work-in-progress paper introduces the progress of 'Aboriginal E-commerce', a joint research project between CIRCIT and the Aboriginal Development Unit in RMIT University.

The 'Aboriginal E-commerce' project comprises of:
1) provide IT and e-commerce training and equipment to Aboriginal art students and their communities in Melbourne, Gippsland and the Yarra Valley region,
2) set-up Internet homepages and online sales sites, and
3) document and analyse the project as it evolves.

Through this project, we encourage Aboriginal art students and their communities to utilise new online technologies in order to establish their own small businesses and to overcome social and cultural differences/ difficulties in business management. The difficulties include issues arising from a lack of business infrastructure and customer management skills and the disadvantages from their remote locations that are physically away from the metropolitan consumers. The project will also study how e-commerce can help the small Aboriginal businesses in regional Victoria to expand shares in the Australian mainstream art and craft market, and to replace the difficulties of identifying wholesale buyers with online sales that can directly link them to consumers in Australia and overseas.

In the early stage of the project, we have learnt that the assumptions around Aboriginal people's literacy and the fear of using technologies were not quite relevant amongst the Aboriginal groups participating in this project. It was rather the social issues intertwined with Aboriginal people's lives and communication/miscommunication issues involving mediators that are seen as barriers to successful business. These barriers are also seen to be influencing the learning and set-up of online businesses.

This project is supported by the Telematics Course Development Fund Trust and Telstra Countrywide (Gippsland and Yarra Valley) . It is an action research allowing researchers to participate in identifying and analysing issues and planning future strategies as the project progresses.

Youngmi Choi is a researcher for Centre for International Research on Communication and Information Technologies.

Presentation Type
30 min. Paper


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001