First Nations economic development
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Jul 2022

The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia’s most desirable regions, renowned for its natural attributes and diverse, vibrant communities. Like many regional economies however, the Sunshine Coast has faced a number of challenges in the last five years as a result of volatile global financial conditions.

This has inspired regional leaders to look at new ideas that will deliver a stronger economy for the Sunshine Coast – and create a more prosperous community.

Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth. Its goals and aspirations encompass – and benefit - all areas of the Sunshine Coast region - from the rural hinterland to its urban coastal areas.

The strategy has been developed by regional business, industry and local government leaders and informed through valuable contributions from Sunshine Coast residents and community organisations.

The strategy seeks to ensure the region realises its full potential – with a confident future and as an active participant in the global economy – which in turn will deliver the lifestyle and opportunities for local residents and businesses alike. To do this, the region will pursue five essential pathways:

  1. Leadership, collaboration and identity
  2. Capital investment
  3. High-value industries
  4. Local-to-global connections
  5. Investment in talent and skills

The strategy aims to strengthen and extend the construction, retail and tourism industries – all of which will remain significant elements of the regional economy for the foreseeable future.

The region will also vigorously seek new investment opportunities associated with seven high-value industries:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Education and research
  • Tourism, sport and leisure
  • Knowledge industries and professional services
  • Agribusiness
  • Clean technologies
  • Aviation and aerospace

All of these industries have the potential to generate higher-paying, enduring employment opportunities on the back of the region’s ‘game changer’ projects: the development of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the Maroochydore City Centre; upgrade of the Bruce Highway; and expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

First Nations investment

In today's rapidly changing world First Nations businesses and economic communities are self-determining, resilient and diverse industries in themselves. There is high demand for access to First Nations knowledge, cultural tourism, community development practices and environmental practices / partnerships in the smart economy.

Council supports and encourages First Nations and ally investment through its Business ProgramCommunity Grants Program and partnerships with First Nations through Native Title and agreement making processes.

Council also supports increased First Nations supplier diversity through its end-to-end business procurement.

Founded in 2014 by Leesa Watego (then of the South East Queensland Chamber of Commerce) as monthly Friday Coffee Mornings across South East Queensland, and built on by Thomas Holden (then of the Townsville Region Indigenous Business Network), and Keith Williams, Black Coffee is now a nation-wide monthly event for the Indigenous business sector.

Meeting on the last Thursday of each month, Black Coffee brings together First Nations Australian business owners and professionals, and their supporters.

The current National Coordination team are supported by locally based volunteer Regional Coordinators.

Black Coffee events have so far been held in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Palm Island, Wellington (NSW), Canberra, Mt Isa, Mackay, Bundaberg, Gold Coast, Moreton Shire, Sunshine Coast, and Stradbroke Island.

All events are published on the Black Coffee Indigenous Business Network Facebook page each month.

The Sunshine Coast First Nations Accord was established in 2019, with the aim of creating and nurturing partnerships between Traditional Custodians, the broader First Nations community, organisations that either have an established, or proposed, Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and / or other written policy commitments supporting First Nations people.

The Accord’s vision is a strong and resilient community which celebrates its diversity, connection, and history of First Nations peoples.  The Accord facilitates collaborations and partnerships on the Sunshine Coast.

Council invites organisations to contribute to the First Nations Accord where like-minded organisations create a forum for conversations, ideas, community events and to share experiences to support and inspire Sunshine Coast business and community.

The Accord is consciously informed by authentic communication and consultation with First Nations people.  This practice will ensure the mutual benefits of working in partnership are timely and led with community ownership.

The Accord’s objectives are:

  • To establish a forum for conversations, ideas and community events
  • To create and nurture community of practice
    • Sharing knowledge and experience
  • To provide support and inspiration. Archaeological 
  • To support and encourage cultural capability, which includes: 
    • Awareness
    • Education
    • Communication
    • Relationships
    • Building community
    • Increased First Nations presence
  • To empower communities, nurture innovation and facilitate more authentic connections between people and place

While this network may not be something you have previously engaged with, council have found that similar networks and events are a great incubator for innovation, sharing best practice and meeting some of the local First Nations community.

View the Sunshine Coast First Nations Accord Terms of Reference[166KB] and email the First Nations Partnerships team to find out more.


As the oldest continuing culture on Earth, First Nations people were the first builders and engineers, the first inventors and scientists, the first agriculturalists and environmentalists, the first healers, and the first navigators and astronomers.

Despite the challenges within contemporary Australia, First Nations people use their ingenuity and ancient knowledge systems to continue cultural practices that both support economy and build community.

One of the key objectives of the Sunshine Coast First Nations Supplier Day is to establish a platform to showcase local First Nations businesses and their ongoing contributions to the economic sustainability of the Sunshine Coast region.

By creating and nurturing relationships between First Nations suppliers, government, NGOs and businesses, Supplier Day aims to support a strong and resilient community which prioritises local First Nations businesses as the suppliers of choice.

Sunshine Coast First Nations Supplier Day objectives

  • To establish a platform for First Nations businesses

  • To bring together local First Nations businesses with innovative industries, with particular focus on the seven high value industries highlighted in the Regional Economic Development Strategy:
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Education and research
  • Tourism, sport and leisure
  • Knowledge industries and professional services
  • Agriculture business
  • Clean technologies
  • Aviation and aerospace
  • To develop capabilities and capacity through:
  • Leadership, collaboration and identity
  • Capital investment
  • High value industries
  • Local to global connections
  • Investment in skills and talent
  • Developing a competitive First Nations business and industry both locally and regionally
  • Creating new business and commercial opportunities for First Nations suppliers, and support the existing First Nations business and commercial base
  • Creating new local employment opportunities and maintain the existing First Nations local employment base
  • Supporting First Nations supply chains by incentivising all Council suppliers to sub-contract with, or procure goods and services from, First Nations suppliers
  • Diversifying economic growth contributing to community prosperity
  • To create and nurture relationships between First Nations suppliers + government, NGOs and businesses

  • To showcase local First Nations businesses

  • To showcase the contributions and collaborations between the corporate community and First Nations community

Don't miss this important opportunity! Discover local First Nations suppliers. Learn what products and services are available to your business. Promote your organisation’s social responsibility and engagement with your community!

To read more about last year's Sunshine Coast First Nations Supplier Day 2021, please view the event summary[50KB].

Partnership opportunities

If you or your organisation are interested in supporting the First Nations community and this event by partnering, please contact the First Nations Partnerships team.

First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) business is one of the fastest emerging sectors in Australia. To support its growth, the Queensland Government has developed One Business, a state-wide business development program designed to support emerging First Nations businesses.

One Business supports First Nations people by creating pathways to participate in Queensland's innovation economy.

Are you a First Nations person and ready to take the next step in your business? The One Business program is designed and delivered by First Nations experts through TAFE Queensland to support you and the growth of your business.

  • Program designed by First Nations business experts
  • Delivered by First Nations coaches
  • Connect with industry representatives

What will the training will offer you?

The One Business program provides workshops, one-on-one coaching, support and advice with the aim of helping you to bring your ideas to success.

The training will:

  • Support you to reassure your clients, investors and employees that you will continue to trade in a changing economy
  • help you to enhance your resilience
  • guide you to promote and highlight your successes
  • find areas that require growth then plan for improvement

Who should participate in the training?

  • Innovators - usually a person with ideas and needs help to turn the idea into a commercial reality
  • Entrepreneurs – usually a person who can take an idea and add commercial value
  • Small business owner - may be an innovator and/or entrepreneur who just needs a guiding hand to maintain effective and sustainable business continuity

How will the training will be delivered?

The proposed One Business program will be delivered in three parts:

  • Part 1 - workshops and a health check of your business
  • Part 2 - digital workshops, procurement training and one-on-one mentoring
  • Part 3 - networking and pitching or promoting your business at an event

Visit TAFE Queensland for more details on the program or to register.


The Sunshine Coast region supports economic opportunities for First Nations Cultural Tourism.

The following cultural experiences are currently available on the coast:

Some of council's First Nations programs include:

The Sunshine Coast Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2021-2022 includes provision to investigate a multilingual signage program for the Sunshine Coast.

For more information, please email the First Nations Partnerships team.

Related links

More information

Customer enquiries relating to the region’s Traditional Custodians, council’s Reconciliation Action Plan or other First Nations projects supported by council, can be emailed to the First Nations Partnerships team.