Indigenous Business

Nominations called for Queensland Resources Council Indigenous Awards

NOMINATIONS will close soon for the Queensland Resources Council's (QRC) annual Indigenous Awards which celebrate excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the state’s resources sector.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the awards, presented during National Reconciliation Week, provide the opportunity to showcase exceptional performance by Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, businesses and the support of their companies.  

“It is our hope that the award winners will go on to be ambassadors for the sector, acting as role models and encouraging more Indigenous people to join our sector,” Mr Macfarlane said.  

“The awards are designed to celebrate the achievements of those companies and individuals making a real difference and to inspire others to do the same. 

“As a sector that largely operates in regional and remote communities with Indigenous populations, bridging the divide with tangible opportunities is of great priority.” 

Mr Macfarlane said in 2006, Indigenous people made up 3 percent of the Queensland’s workforce in resources, but by 2016 Indigenous participation had grown to 4 percent.

"Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4 percent, which places the resources sector as one of the few industries with a genuine representation," he said. 

The awards are presented at the event on May 28, with nominations closing on April 23. 

QRC is accepting nominations across six award categories: 

• Indigenous Advocacy Award which recognises Indigenous or non-Indigenous individuals that have demonstrated outstanding effort to encourage, promote and advocate for increasing Indigenous participation within the resources sector;
• Exceptional Indigenous Person in Queensland Resources Award which recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous person working with the Queensland resources sector in any occupation or profession;
• Exceptional Indigenous Business in Queensland Resources Award which recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous business supplying the Queensland resources sector;
• Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative Award which recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that enhance supplier diversity and support increased Indigenous business participation within resources sector supply chains;
• Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative Award which recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that enhance the attraction and retention of Indigenous people in the Queensland resources sector; and
• Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Student Award which recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous student at a QMEA school who has shown significant promise and passion for a career in the Queensland resources sector. 

For more information and to nominate, click here.


QUEEENSLAND’s resources sector staged its fourth annual Indigenous Awards in 2017, in partnership with platinum sponsor Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto Weipa operations general manager Dan van der Westhuizen highlighted at the event that in Weipa the company's Aboriginal Agreements with Traditional Owners underpin all activities.

“It’s fundamental that the prosperity generated from our operations is shared across the region and our indigenous employment and retention programs ensure that Local Aboriginal people from the Western Cape region not only have access to employment, but have the opportunity to be developed into professional and leadership roles within our business,” Mr van der Westhuizen said.

“I’m pleased to see 27 percent of our workforce represented by indigenous Australians which could not have been achieved without continued collaboration with our community partners.” 

The 2017 Indigenous Advocacy Award was shared between Incitec Pivot Limited’s Davina Shearer and Glencore’s William Blackley.

“By delivering above and beyond expectations through their advocacy work both Davina and William have shown exceptional leadership which has contributed to an increase in indigenous participation in the sector,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

BHP Billiton’s Theresa Saylor took out the Exceptional Indigenous Person in her role as an Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC) controller.

“Theresa demonstrated aptitude, enthusiasm and an ability to build strong relationships with employees on site and is always willing to provide training and coaching to her peers,” Mr Macfarlane said.

QRC’s most recent data showed that resource companies spent $50 million with about 60 indigenous businesses last financial year, which naturally translates into further indirect employment opportunities for indigenous people.

Wonie Yusia from Wavell State High School and Kaitlyn Tobane from Blackwater State High School both triumphed in a new category to be joint winners in the Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) award.

“These two bright young minds have excelled academically, in attendance and in sharing their knowledge to other students in the classroom,” Mr Macfarlane said.

More than 300 people attended the 2017 awards ceremony, opened with a welcome to country by indigenous Songwoman Maroochy Barambah.

Full list of award winners:

BEST COMPANY INDIGENOUS PROCUREMENT INITIATIVE WINNER Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance and BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal HIGHLY COMMENDED Rio Tinto Amrun Project




UP AND COMER Cameron McCartney, Mt Isa Copper

NEWCOMERS Eduwano Woolla, Goodline Edmund Woolla, Goodline

INDIGENOUS ADVOCACY AWARD JOINT WINNERS Davina Shearer, Incitec Pivot William Blackley, GlencoreHIGHLY COMMENDED Irene Leard, Jangga Operations



Indigenous startups rank high on Investible list

INDIGENOUS Business Australia’s (IBA) national accelerator program, run by early stage investment group Investible in late 2017, has already helped nine early-stage startups turn their businesses into viable commercial enterprises. 

The eight-week accelerator program had participants work with successful startup founders, mentors and investors to gain the insight and experience needed to develop and realise their business vision. 

Through the program, the entrepreneurs were introduced to more than 65 potential customers and partners, 45 investors, and closed seven deals while in the program – four of which were with multinational companies. 

An IBA spokesperson said all accelerator participants continued to receive ongoing support, and the program awarded three founders, Josie Alec from Jummi Factory, Kylie Bradford from Kakadu Tiny Tots and Greg Hodgkinson from Indigispace, with additional tailored prizes to kick-start their business. 

Josie Alec, founder of the Jummi Factory, produces a range of unique bush remedies and skin care products. Investible has helped Ms Alec, who is a healer in Pilbara, WA, to scope a trademark approach and cover the cost of a consumer product marketing expert to create her packaging, social assets, website and re-branding.

Off the back of the program, Ms Alec pitched against 79 other startups to place second at Investible’s AngelPitch event, and then second overall at the Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC) Sydney pitch event. That meant she went on to represent Australia at the OTEC conference hosted in China. 

Ms Alec said the IBA Accelerator program was instrumental in helping her pitch the business at OTEC in China, one of the world’s largest venture capital (VC) events.

“Not only did the IBA Accelerator program inspire me to pursue my dream of running a business that celebrates my heritage, it helped me validate my business model to make sure it was commercially viable,” Ms Alec said.

Four months later, the Jummi Factory is in the process of developing a new nursery in the Pilbara which utilises aquaculture techniques, to develop the next version of her products. With the rebrand almost complete, Jummi Factory products will soon undertake consumer testing, before the product rolls out across Australia for a multinational client.  

Ms Alec will now take part in IBA’s second accelerator program as a mentor. The program, set to kick off in late November, will be delivered virtually, to meet the needs of Indigenous entrepreneurs who find it difficult to be away from their communities for long periods of time.

Investible program lead, Elisa-Marie Dumas, said while the first program was a great success, the virtual format has allowed the IBA  to scale future programs across remote communities.

“There is huge demand in the Indigenous community for economic independence and programs like these can help move the dial in a meaningful way,” Ms Alec said. “Tailoring the program to those who physically need to be in their communities means we have founders participating in places as remote as Groote.

“Given the success of the first IBA Accelerator program, we’re incredibly excited to begin working with these 15 entrepreneurs.”

The program will begin with a two-day kick off in Sydney, followed by a seven-week virtual program and a Demo Day where participants pitch to investors. 

Facilitator Investible was co-founded by entrepreneurial educator Creel Price and one of Australia’s most successful angel investors, Trevor Folsom. After successfully exiting Blueprint Management Group for $109 million, Mr Price and Mr Folsom spent a decade perfecting their respective arts of developing startup methodology and angel investing.

The pair reunited in 2014 to combine this expertise and share it with the next generation of entrepreneurs through Investible.

IBA develops programs to realise its vision of economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, assisting Indigenous Australians to have the same financial opportunities as other Australians.


Mainie introduces men’s collection styled after 2017 NAIDOC Artist of the Year

MAINIE Australia, the fashion and giftwear company that builds its styles utilising authentic Aboriginal art works, has introduced its first collection for men.

Mainie’s founding director and designer, Charmaine Saunders said it was only a matter of time before Mainie released a collection for men that would complement the popular women’s range of wearable art spanning scarves, versatile tops and sarongs. The men’s collection ranges across pure silk neck ties, bow ties and suit pocket squares in a range of five authentic Indigenous artworks.

“There has always been a strong demand for Mainie to release its own range for men that would tick both boxes of fashion accessory and giftwear,” Ms Saunders said. 

“With our brand now established and featured in retail outlets in both Cairns and throughout Australia, the timing is now right to add a men’s collection,” she said.

According to Ms Saunders, Mainie’s neck tie and bow tie boxed sets include “this season’s must-have accessory for men – a matching pocket square which is generously sized at 34cm x 34cm with a hand rolled hem”.

The silk prints are patterned after the natural environment of the artists’ homes. Designs span versatile earthy neutral and vibrant reef-inspired colour palettes in five unique artworks – two from NAIDOC Artist of the Year, Elverina Johnson from Yarrabah (Seahorses and Mangrove Life) and three from Queensland artist, Justin Butler (Snake Tracks, Protective Shield and Falling Leaves).

Mainie’s bow tie and pocket square sets retail for $100 each while the neck tie and pocket square sets retail for $110 each. All designs feature a matching ladies silk twill or silk chiffon scarf.

Ms Saunders created Mainie as an Aboriginal owned, ethical, fair-trade brand.  Royalties from each sale are returned to the Warlpiri artists of the Tanami Desert in Central Australia and Dirringhi Arts in Yarrabah, North Queensland.

Ms Saunders first developed extensive and popular women’s collections in a mix she has described as the “special melding of two ancient cultures – where the Dreamtime meets the Silk Road”. 

Authentic Aboriginal designs are by traditional artists from Central Australia’s remote Tanami Desert region. The silks used are from artisan silk-makers from “the fabled Silk Cities of China”.

“The original artworks featured in Mainie’s designs are based on ancient, ancestral stories and sacred ceremonial customs which have been passed down through many generations of Warlpiri women over thousands of years,” she said. “The rich and vibrant hues used by the artists perfectly reflect the awe-inspiring beauty of their desert homelands in the Australian Outback.”  

Ms Saunders’s method is to present the collections as ‘collectibles’.

Mainie’s silk pieces are stylishly boxed with artwork authentication, artist biographies as well as each artwork’s Dreamtime Story in English, Chinese and Japanese.


Barayamal launches CoderDojo First Nations

AUSTRALIA’S  first CoderDojo for Indigenous Australians, to close the digital divide and increase employment, has been developed by Barayamal.

CoderDojo First Nations is a national network of coding clubs being developed for Indigenous Australians, which aims to ‘close the gap’ by empowering Indigenous youth with coding skills to help prepare them for Australia’s ever changing economy. 

The first coding club kicked off at Capalaba State College, near Brisbane, in the final school term of 2017, aiming to teach more than 60 Indigenous students how to code. CoderDojo First Nations has also gained interest from other schools and community organisations throughout Australia and plans to expand nationwide in 2018. 
CoderDojo First Nations is an initiative of Australia’s Indigenous business accelerator program, Barayamal, and CoderDojo, the world’s leading volunteer-led community of free programming clubs for youth between seven and 17 years. Founded in Ireland in July 2011 by James Whelton and Bill Liao, as of January 2015 CoderDojo had more than 550 operating coding clubs (Dojos) in 55 countries.
“CoderDojo First Nations mission is to inspire and empower Australia’s Indigenous youth with coding skills, confidence and opportunities to achieve their dreams and create a better world and future for all who live in it,” Barayamal founder and CEO Dean Foley said.

He said according to Australian Bureau of Statistics research, more than half (53%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were aged under 25 years in 2016.

 “It is extremely important to have programs specifically for Indigenous youth because jobs are changing in the economy and becoming more digital and tech-skilled orientated, and we do not want this disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to continue rising,” Mr Foley said.

“I reached out to existing non-Indigenous organisations that teach youth how to code but they were ‘too busy’ or ‘booked up’ and couldn’t help us teach Indigenous youth how to code. When I found out about CoderDojo and the positive impact they are creating, I decided to launch CoderDojo First Nations to create a national network of volunteer-led coding clubs so Indigenous youth don’t get left behind.”

The digital technologies market is expected to grow from $79 billion in 2017 to $139 billion in 2020, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics in 2016. However, according to the latest government employment study, the Indigenous unemployment rate is currently 21 percent, an increase of 4.3 percent since 2008, and four times the current non-Indigenous unemployment rate of just over 5 percent.

“Through disempowerment and lack of opportunity, the Indigenous community in Australia has the highest rate of suicide of any community in the world,” he said. “By empowering Indigenous Youth, we can help re-shape these statistics and our communities.” 
Deloitte Access Economics estimated that increasing economic participation of Indigenous Australians to parity levels could result in an Australian economy that is up to 1.15 percent larger in 2031, a gain of $24 billion in 2012-13 terms.\

Mr Foley said CoderDojo First Nations would partner with multiple educational organisations to run school and term based Entrepreneurship and Coding programs


Indigenous business helped by entrepreneurs capital scheme

SIGNIFICANT  changes to Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) – including a new Indigenous Entrepreneurs Capital Scheme – are aimed at supporting a wider range of Indigenous businesses at various stages.

The Federal Government announced in May it was “reforming Indigenous Business Australia”. Already, Indigenous business participation has been raised in certain projects, such as the Townsville Stadium, and the new procurement policy has seen extraordinary growth in contracts awarded to 708 Indigenous businesses over the past 18 months.

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Broncos score a $5m bonus to help Indigenous girls

ANOTHER $5 million pledge from the Federal Government will add 1000 places in the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy for Indigenous girls across northern New South Wales and southern and western Queensland.

The program, fronted by the Brisbane Broncos NRL club, aims to mentor and encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait girls and offer them career and educational pathways that have not been available before. 

Brisbane Broncos chief executive officer, Paul White, said the announcement by Federal Indigenous affairs Minister Paul Scullion was “a wonderful affirmation of the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy program”.

“The club is very proud of the work the program is doing to empower young women both academically and in their general lives, and is looking forward to partnering with the government to exponentially expand those opportunities," Mr White said.

Mr Scullion, said the funding would also provide continued support for the existing 300 places in the program.

“The Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy is a great program that provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls with an opportunity to be mentored and encourages increased school attendance while building leadership skills and developing career pathways to further education and employment," Mr Scullion said. 

“Investing in the future of women and girls has a significant benefit not only to them as individuals but also for their family and broader community. 

“This program is a great example of how the Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.”

Federal Member for Brisbane, Trevor Evans, said he was proud to represent a sporting club that provided so much to the community.

“The Broncos have a strong history of giving back to the people that have supported and barracked for them, and the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy is just one of many important programmes they run,” Mr Evans said.


Aboriginal communities join Pacific highway upgrade

ABORIGINAL communities along the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade have been informed and invited to participate in construction and other work on the project by the New South Wales and Federal Governments.

“The overall Pacific Highway upgrade between Port Macquarie and Ballina has roughly 10 percent Indigenous employment and we are looking to increase this participation for the Woolgoolga to Ballina section,” Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said.

“This is regional Australia's largest road infrastructure project and a key part of the Australian Government’s record $50 billion infrastructure investment package. We are determined to ensure the benefits — including thousands of jobs — are shared right across the community.”

NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey said it was important the local Aboriginal workforce had every opportunity to be involved in an infrastructure project of this size. Information sessions were conducted in April and early May.

“Drivers only have to look outside their car window to see the extensive work to upgrade the highway, but they might not see the efforts being made to ensure the local Aboriginal workforce was engaged,” Mrs Pavey said.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said she was proud the government was building a workforce that reflected the diversity of the communities the Pacific Highway passed through.

“The Pacific Highway runs through the heart of regional New South Wales and while the government is building big infrastructure projects, it is also investing in the futures of both the local and Aboriginal communities along the highway’s length,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“A number of initiatives are already in place including implementing contracts with higher mandatory Indigenous participation, direct engagement of Indigenous companies to provide fit-out of contractor offices and using local Indigenous artists to design art for one of the project vehicles.”

Work on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is expected to start mid-year. The national government aspiration for Indigenous business and employment participation in major infrastructure projects is 10 percent.


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