Len Owen – Professional Profile

Work with Indigenous Groups

Len OwenLen retired from the Commonwealth Government in mid-2007 after a career spanning 34 years, the last 18 of which were spent working in Indigenous affairs in:

  • the Department of Employment Education and Training (DEET) as the Executive Officer of the SA Aboriginal Employment Education Development Unit (1990-1992);
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) as its Adelaide Regional Manager (1993-1996), and;
  • the Indigenous Land Corporation as its inaugural Central Division Manager (1996-2003) and later Director National Operations (2003-2007).

In all Len worked as a senior manager/executive for almost 25 years, and he has particular experience and knowledge in:

  • High level policy and program development, most recently involving Indigenous land acquisition and land management and associated property improvement, property management planning (including land-based business planning and analysis) and property ownership governance requirements;
  • Strategic, corporate and operational planning, particularly as it relates to program delivery and
  • Negotiating and developing partnerships with government and non-government agencies and organisations, where he has been particularly successful over many years in securing multi-agency funding and support for major projects;
  • Human resource development, including performance management, training and mentoring;
  • The Australian labour market and industry through his work in the former Dept of Employment, Education and Training (DEET), in particular 17 years with the former Commonwealth Employment Service (CES);
  • The Vocation Education and Training (VET) sector through the above and his completion in 2007 of a Cert IV in Training and Assessment, qualifying him to design, deliver and assess nationally accredited training packages;
  • The strategic, financial and governance requirements associated with business through his studies to gain a Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors(AICD) and involvement on the boards of several companies.

Work with Indigenous Entities

Len has an extensive knowledge of the Indigenous landscape across Australia,

His knowledge is especially strong in relation to the Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania and South Australia. He is well known to many Aboriginal communities and individuals across these States, and through his work with the ILC was instrumental in a significant number of successful land acquisitions and land management outcomes for Indigenous groups.

Through both his work with the Indigenous Land Corporation and his personal experience in the rural and private sector, Len has a good knowledge and understanding of the rural and pastoral industries, and small business.

Projects of significance

Len has been involved in developing and overseeing many projects providing benefits to Indigenous people, some of the more significant including:

  • Several multi-million dollar weed and feral animal control programs on Indigenous land in the Northern Territory, in collaboration with a number of NT Government agencies and Land Councils (some include Mimosa Pigra eradication projects, VRD Feral Animal eradication project, projects supporting the Pastoral and Caring for Country Units (or similar) in the Northern and Central Land Councils);
  • Strategic land and natural resource management across Indigenous-held lands in South Australia, in collaboration with the SA Aboriginal Lands Trust;
  • Management training for key Indigenous people in Indigenous organisations in South Australia over several years, that saw over 150 participants graduate with formal management qualifications at the Certificate or Diploma level;
  • The establishment/improvement of small, sustainable cattle and buffalo enterprises on numerous remote Aboriginal communities in the NT;

Consultancy Work

In his consultancy work for AMC he has undertaken a range of projects, including:

  • Development of  business or property management plans for:
    • Several broadacre Indigenous-owned cereal and sheep properties on the West Coast of SA;
    • A proposed Indigenous-operated effluent removal enterprise;
    • A proposed Indigenous horticultural/vegetable growing enterprise near Murray Bridge, SA;
    • An Indigenous-owned building company at Koonibba Aboriginal Community, SA;
    • The establishment of a revegetation and associated plant nursery enterprise at Yalata and Oak Valley, SA;
    • The redevelopment of the Oak Valley visitors centre into an accommodation enterprise;
    • A whole of property plan for the Gerard community, including horticultural, vegetable and other potential enterprises.
  • Development of a strategic plan for a remote Indigenous Health Service;
  • Feasibility studies for:
    • the development of Indigenous cultural and tourism opportunities in northern SA;
    • a group of Aboriginal land-owners in the East Kimberley (WA) wishing to explore joining their four properties into a single business operation with the potential to run over 20,000 head of cattle.
    • The development of a multi-purpose sports and recreation complex on the APY Lands in north west SA for the SA National Football League;
  • Development of  Property Management Plans for several Indigenous-owned pastoral properties (sheep and cattle) in northern and western SA, including investigation of their Indigenous Protected Area/Caring for Your Country options;
  • The development of a State-wide strategy titled ‘Indigenous Farmers Working Together’ in SA, which is focused on cropping and sheep grazing.

Indigenous Pastoralism

Over the past 20 years Len has had a close involvement with the Indigenous pastoral industry and operations, particularly in northern Australia, through his work with the ILC and in his consultancy work, including:

  • Initial involvement with the Northern and Central Land Councils and the NT Government with a focus on assisting Indigenous-owned pastoral properties resume cattle production. This work was a precursor to the Indigenous Pastoral Program currently underway in the NT and its equivalent in WA;
  • A pre-feasibility, then feasibility, study for a group of Aboriginal land-owners near Warmun (Turkey Creek) in the East Kimberley (WA) wishing to explore joining their pastoral properties into a single business operation.;
  • From early 2012 he has been involved in the development of feasibility and business plans for eight Indigenous-owned cattle properties across the NT under the ILC’s Indigenous Pastoral Program.

Qualifications

Len has a range of professional qualifications of relevance, including:

  • Bachelor of Arts (Aboriginal Affairs Administration) – University of SA;
  • Diploma in Management Practices – Australian Institute of Management;
  • Diploma/Graduate – Australian Institute of Company Directors;
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment;
  • Chemcert Certificate.