INDIGENOUS Business Month has attracted new backing through a new partnership with CGU Insurance Ltd, a subsidiary of the multinational insurance company Insurance Australia Group (IAG). 

The partnership will provide five $5000 Wa-murayangkulang Awards -- the meaning of which is to 'walk forward' -- to an Indigenous SME, Indigenous owner or operator, towards personal and professional development.

Indigenous Business Month founder Michelle Evans said in recognition of this year’s Indigenous Business Month theme ‘Indigenous ingenuity’, the Wa-murayangkulang Awards aim to uplift Indigenous small to medium enterprise owners or operators to grow their future capacity and capability to ensure that they thrive in an ever changing world. The awards proceeds can be spent on further skill acquisition or professional development programs. 

Ms Evans said the chosen Wa-murayangkulang Award winners may also have an opportunity to be showcased as a preferred procurement option on IAG’s Diversity Procurement Hub, with up to two winners to be incubated and accelerated within IAG innovation division: Firemark Labs.

“The Wa-murayangkulang Awards relates perfectly to our belief that the award winners should be aspiring to walk forwards and onwards to a better future for themselves, their business and their communities," said Insurance Australia Group manager of Indigenous engagement, Lee Hinton. "We look forward to working with the award winners testing their business ideas, concepts and strategies within our teams.”

Michelle Evans, who is the MURRA program director and associate professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said, “Indigenous Business Month is excited to be partnering with IAG this year for the first time as we celebrate ‘Indigenous Ingenuity’. IAG has provided an opportunity that will pave the way for future Indigenous Businesses to establish themselves as experts in their field through development and innovation.”

The Wa-murayangkulang Award winners will be announced on October 30 at an Indigenous Business Month event in Melbourne.

Indigenous Business Month is an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving the quality of life in Indigenous communities. 

The Indigenous Business Month initiative is supported by 33 Creative, MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program, Iscariot Media, PwC and IAG. 

More information on entering the IAG Wa-murayangkulang Awards: CGU Wa-murayangkulang Award. Entries closes Wednesday, October 16, 2019.


A NEW investment fund aims to build infrastructure for indigenous communities around Australia.

Impact Investment Partners is the first Australian investment fund that aims to invest $500 million over five years across 15 to 20 direct investments to fund Indigenous infrastructure.

It will be drawing the funds from Indigenous capital, which is the money that comes in to sites such as Uluru, and super funds focused on environmental, social and governance investments.

Impact Investment Partners managing director Chris Croker said the fund would address issues like clean water, power and housing in remote communities, and items like healthcare facilities for Indigenous communities in Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Croker himself is Indigenous and he was born in Central Australia. 

“I have seen first-hand the deficits and deficiencies in Indigenous communities – which you’d think the times have moved on from previous generations where there were a lot of systematic issues,” Mr Croker told Talking Business.

“You think that with modern society we all enjoy access to the same opportunities and essential services such as water, electricity, housing and access to medical care. It doesn’t happen. That deficit is still there.”


Mr Croker said the aim of the fund was to use two pools of capital to create better social outcomes with the Indigenous capital building up over a period of time, with a specific focus on infrastructure, which is typically underwritten by long term contracts.

For example, it is common for an investment in power generation to be underwritten by a 10-year contract to provide a certain quality of power – and a certain amount of power – to be delivered over a defined period of time.

This typically makes infrastructure a safer investment which can be counter-cyclical to the market.

“We have already identified many investments and some right through to pre-feasibility, feasibility and about-to-execute on a project,” Mr Croker said.

He said the fund aimed to empower the Indigenous communities on several levels with the Indigenous capital being used to address some of the social issues.

“And so when we run the asset – like a medical centre, or electricity – a key component of what we offer over a typical infrastructure investor is that we will work with the Indigenous community to make sure a lot of those services, and their management, the asset management, and the care and maintenance services, are delivered by the community,” Mr Croker said.

“So there is direct involvement at many levels both from the ownership to the operation stage as well.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

INDIGENOUS BUSINESS accelerator Barayamal has launched the Barayamal Network as an online destination where Indigenous entrepreneurs can collaborate, network and receive mentoring.

“The Barayamal Network closed group recently launched on Facebook and now has over 800 members,” Barayamal founder and CEO Dean Foley said. 

He described Barayamal Network as a forum for Indigenous entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals who are passionate about growing the Indigenous economy to engage with others, exchange ideas, discuss issues relevant to the industry, connect with other Indigenous entrepreneurs and receive mentoring from industry experts. 

The group wants to create a place where everyone from the Indigenous community and non-Indigenous supporters can collaborate “to build a stronger Indigenous economy that will benefit all in Australia,” he said.

The group will also allow people to share the latest events, news and offers to increase collaboration between members.\

“The group officially launched in April and has quickly grown to 800 members, which includes successful Indigenous entrepreneurs, technologists and community members who want to help each other and grow the Indigenous economy to create more opportunities in our communities that will help close the disparity gap through economic development,” Mr Foley said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for the Indigenous community to collaborate and work together to create a better Australia for everyone.”

Mr Foley said in 2016 there were over 11,538 Indigenous business owner-managers in Australia, rising from 8,891 in 2011 – a 29.8 percent  increase.

“The future of the Indigenous economy is rapidly growing despite lagging behind other Indigenous economies,” he said.

“For example, the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment figures estimate Māori assets are worth $42.6 billion — a 15.4 percent increase from 2010.

“The Barayamal team is seeking support from Australian political parties, philanthropists and entrepreneurs to help drive real change that will support Indigenous Australians to achieve their self-determination aspirations.

“In our opinion, Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic development is the high growth solution that will help close the gap,” Mr Foley said.

For example, Barayamal recently ran a poll in the Barayamal Network that showed a growing need for funding and government policy accountability – such as the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP).

“Members from the Barayamal Network want to see a greater impact in Indigenous communities from the social procurement policy/contracts instead of a few Indigenous entrepreneurs and their non-Indigenous partners cashing in on the policy that aims to help close the disparity gap,” Mr Foley said. 

“I think the Federal Election will provide an exciting opportunity for the new Minister for Indigenous Affairs to make a real difference, instead of developing tokenism policies and spending a ton of taxpayer money that has done little to drive real change and actually help Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Mr Foley founded Barayamal, Australia’s first Indigenous business accelerator, in November 2016. Since then the organisation has established many valuable programs, from the CoderDojo First Nations coding clubs to its Budding Entrepreneurs Program, supporting Indigenous business innovators to develop their ideas and take them to market.


NOMINATIONS are closing soon for the Queensland Resources Council’s (QRC) annual Indigenous Awards, a night to celebrate excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the state’s resources sector. Award-winning journalist and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant is the keynote speaker at the May 27 event.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the awards, presented during National Reconciliation Week, provide the opportunity to showcase exceptional performance by Indigenous individuals, businesses and resource companies economic participation initiatives. 

“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 industry,” 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."

The Queensland resources industry has recommitted to playing its part in creating economic opportunities and jobs for Indigenous Australians following the release of the latest Closing the Gap report.

“Economic opportunities for Indigenous Australians are essential to making meaningful strides towards the Closing the Gap targets, and the resources sector had an important role to play,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“Last year Indigenous employment grew by 11 percent in the resources sector. The resources sector is committed to doing even more to extend economic opportunities to First Nations people, and we hope to see other sectors join us with the same goal.

“The resources sector is one of only two sectors in Queensland with a genuine representation of Indigenous employees. Indigenous people comprise 4 percent of the state’s workforce in resources and Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4 percent.
The awards are on May 27, 2019. Award-winning journalist and Wiradjuri man Stan Grant is the keynote speaker.
QRC is accepting nominations across six award categories:

Indigenous Advocacy Award: 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: 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: recognises exceptional achievement by an Indigenous business supplying the Queensland resources sector
Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative Award: 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: recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that enhance the attraction and retention of Indigenous people in the Queensland resources sector
Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Student Award: 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.

Nominate by Friday April 5 at


AUSTRALIA’s inaugural First Nations Youth Summit was held in Brisbane in 2018, attracting 60 First Nations youth – and more than half of those travelled from interstate.

Designed to connect and promote meaningful collaborations between First Nations youth, the summit also provided an opportunity to gain important insights into the skills needed for the jobs of the future, create new professional networks, and learn new skills to take back to local communities.

“It was a great opportunity to speak to and hear from elder Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technology entrepreneur leaders,” Capalaba State College Year 12 student Savannah Scott said. 

“Some of them have come from backgrounds like mine. It gives me hope for my future opportunities.”

According to the latest government employment study, the First Nations employment rate fell over the past decade, from 48 percent in 2006 to 46.6 percent in 2016,” said Dean Foley, founder of Barayamal, the indigenous business incubator behind the First Nations Youth Summit.

“Over the same period, the non-indigenous employment rate was broadly stable, at around 72 percent. Despite spending billions annually to close the disparity gap, the government has failed to make sustainable progress.”

In 2016, he said, about 53 percent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was aged under 25 years.

“By empowering First Nations youth to achieve their self-determination and career aspirations, we can reshape our communities for the better,” Mr Foley said.


The First Nations Youth Summit began with attendees having the opportunity to hear the stories of some of the youngest and best First Nations technologists and entrepreneurs, such as Tamina Pitt.

Ms Pitt, a Wuthathi and Meriam woman from Sydney, who is currently studying computer engineering at the University of New South Wales, was recently named NAIDOC Youth of the Year for her work advocating to increase Indigenous participation and inclusion in the technology industry.

Previously, Tamina Pitt has been quoted as saying, “It’s disappointing to see Indigenous people under-represented in engineering. Our ancestors are the original engineers.

“They have a deep knowledge and understanding of the land and the sky. They used their knowledge to form a lifestyle, innovating to solve everyday problems and live comfortably. The boomerang is a piece of aerodynamic engineering that has inspired many designs today.”

In addition, there are an estimated 2.1 million businesses in Australia, but according to recent research only 12,000–16,000 are Indigenous-owned.

“I think it’s really important for First Nations Youth to be involved in entrepreneurship and technology, specifically because that’s where our future is,” said Matthew Compton, Wiradjuri man (Cowra mob) and chief operations officer at Really.

Besides networking and learning from each other, Mr Foley said summit attendees had the opportunity to voice their concerns — and offer potential solutions — through the First Nations Youth Report

The report, which is being developed by Barayamal from the insights and feedback provided by attendees, will be published this year.

The First Nations Youth Report will focus on how government and corporations can better support First Nations youth and help close the massive disparity and opportunity gaps that Indigenous communities continue to face.

Winners of the Startup Competition at the event were the team from Woorabinda, in remote Queensland; Capalaba State College; and Benjamin Gertz.

The Deadly Award went to Neenah Gray. Ms Gray’s actions demonstrated the values and behaviours that were core to the Summit's themes of entrepreneurship, technology and community.

In addition, Ms Gray again showed these qualities by donating her major prize to the Woorabinda Team, who had recently suffered major emotional and financial losses due to theft of their property.

“The 2018 First Nations Youth Summit also acknowledges the generous support of our sponsors, CSIRO and Microsoft, who helped make it possible to put together a national Summit where First Nations Youth can connect and work on building a better future together,” Mr Foley said.


Neenah Gray wrote an article about the Summit, which can be accessed by clicking here

THE ninth annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) recorded ‘record-breaking’ success last year and more growth is expected at the July 12-14 event this year.

CIAF general manager Vanessa Gillen said that while attendance and participation were important benchmarks, it was the commercial outcomes generated by the Art Fair, Art Market and satellite exhibitions that were fundamental, supporting the artists and art centres that produce the work. 

 “In our nine-year history we are proud to have generated $6.7 million in art sales which has been returned to the artistic community to further their practice,” Ms Gillen said.

“Added to this is the fact each year several works are acquired by curators to join the collections of museums, art galleries and institutions both at home and overseas.

“CIAF has become a source of quality art work for both curators and collectors and this is heartening because it underpins the quality, diversity and depth of Queensland’s Indigenous art movement while taking it to global audience,” Ms Gillen said. 

In 2018 sales from CIAF’s Art Fair and Art Market reached $665,715 – compared with last year’s $589,182 – while takings from art sold at satellite exhibitions also increased from last year’s figure of $34,562 to $53,917. 

“Considering associated revenue including sales from ticketed events, this year’s overall result of $887,000 is an increase of 15 percent compared against last year’s result of $763,000,” Ms Gillen said.

After almost a week of events, CIAF 2018 had attracted an overall audience of more than 45,000 – on par with previous years.

State Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch, congratulated CIAF on another successful celebration of Queensland’s First Nation's artists and performers, helping to strengthen the region's network of Indigenous art centres, and expand artistic opportunities.

“The Queensland Government has supported CIAF since its inception in 2009 as part of the landmark Backing Indigenous Arts initiative to build a sustainable arts industry with a global focus,” Ms Enoch said.

“This longstanding investment recognises the unique art of Far North Queensland as a powerful expression of culture which fuels CIAF’s ongoing success as a signature cultural tourism event and as an important economic driver for the region.”

CIAF’s artistic director Janina Harding said the feedback from this year’s event had been outstanding and there was high praise for the program comprising six curated exhibitions including the Art Fair’s Connection to Country, three-day art market, workshops, about 50 individual dance and music acts, talks and conversations, theatre, fashion, food and the presentation of six CIAF Art Awards with winners sharing in a prize cache of $50,000.

 “The word ‘art’ to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a complex story of creative expression and cultural sharing and in this year’s program we showcased some 300 visual artists and 230 performers,” Ms Harding said.

“When people buy art, it is not just about how the piece looks – be it woven, carved or hand fired sculptures, lino prints on paper or acrylics on canvas – it is the story behind the work that means the most to buyers.

 “CIAF is about shining a light on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life experience and celebrating our distinct cultures while elevating the community’s appreciation of Queensland’s First Peoples’ art movement,” Ms Harding said.

The success of this year’s fair was topped off with satellite events including CIAF’s annual fashion performance Bulmba-barra, JUTE Theatre Company’s theatre production, Bukal, Screen Australia’s Pitchas After Dark short film screening and Miriki Performing Arts’ collaboration with the POMO Nation of Northern California in Bayal Kaymanen (Dancing Smoke).

State Minister for Tourism Industry Development, Kate Jones said with record sales at this year’s CIAF more attendees than ever had taken home a piece of Indigenous art.

“CIAF gives Queensland Indigenous artists a platform to showcase their talents, while attendees experience authentic and memorable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture,” Ms Jones said.

“Attracting tens of thousands of spectators each year to Tropical North Queensland, this event supports local jobs, strengthens community pride and promotes tourism in the region, which is worth $2.8 billion to the local economy.

“CIAF is one of many community events supported by the Palaszczuk Government via Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the state's It's Live! In Queensland calendar, worth $780 million to the economy.”


QUEENSLAND Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane described the 2018 Indigenous Awards as a record breaking event.

The fifth annual awards, presented during the recent Reconciliation Week, received record nominations, record attendance and record sponsorship, according to Mr Macfarlane.

“These awards continue to go from strength to strength with companies across all commodities getting involved and celebrating excellence in Indigenous participation in resources,” 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. It is our hope that award winners will go on to be ambassadors for the sector, acting as role models and encouraging more Indigenous people to join our industry.

“As a sector that largely operates in regional and remote communities with high Indigenous populations, bridging the divide with tangible opportunity is of great priority. Queensland’s resources sector is providing more jobs and opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

“The State’s Indigenous population is 4 percent and current census data shows the sector’s Indigenous participation has grown to 4 percent, which places the sector as one of the few industries with a genuine representation.

“Across Australia, mining was acknowledged in the Closing the Gap report this year with 6599 Indigenous Australians employed by the mining industry which is an increase of 250 percent since 2006.”

The Indigenous Advocacy Award went to Shane Kennelly, owner and managing director of Kennelly Constructions.

“By delivering above and beyond expectations through advocacy work Shane has shown exceptional leadership which has contributed to an increase in Indigenous participation in the sector,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Evolution Mining’s Charmaine Saltner took out the Exceptional Indigenous Person in her role as a group community relations advisor.  

“Charmaine 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.

Jayden Uiduldum from Kirwan State High School triumphed in the Exceptional Indigenous Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) award.

“This bright young man has excelled in all areas of his school work but most impressively is his ongoing commitment to share his knowledge with other students in the classroom,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Downer Mining in partnership with Blackwater PCYC was awarded Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative while Best Company Procurement Initiative went to Origin.

Northern Haulage and Diesel Services scored Exceptional Indigenous Business and this year Indigenous businesses were employed to assist with the event.

More than 300 people attended the awards ceremony in Brisbane, opened with a welcome to country by Indigenous songwoman, Maroochy Barambah.


Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative: Recruitment and Training Program by Downer Mining in partnership with Blackwater PCYC, winner. JobTrail, WorkPac runner up. Glencore Indigenous Mentoring Program, highly commended.

Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative: Indigenous Procurement Plans, Origin.

Exceptional Indigenous Business: Northern Haulage and Diesel Services (NHDS). Runner-up BW Promotions. Highly commended, Indigenous Beverages Australia, Waddi Springs.

Exceptional Indigenous QMEA Student: Jayden Uiduldam, Kirwan State High School. Runner up Shye-Leigh Rankine, Cloncurry State School. Highly commended Felicitie Gower, Pioneer State High School.

Exceptional Indigenous Person: Charmaine Saltner, group community relations advisor, Evolution Mining. Runner up Angus Row Row, operator (rear dump truck) and trainer, Curragh North, Thiess. Joint highly commended, Arnold Tilberoo, grounds and gardens team member, Spotless; and Jacqui Brodin, IT systems engineer, Incitec Pivot.

Indigenous Advocacy Award: Shane Kennelly, owner and managing director, Kennelly Constructions. Runner up Marcia Hanrahan, general manager Amrun Project, Rio Tinto. Highly commended Bevan Gostelow, superintendent maintenance services, BMA.


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