QUEENSLAND’s resources sector will tonight celebrate being the state’s leading private sector employer of Indigenous people at a gala event in Brisbane.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said it was fitting to hold the council’s Indigenous Awards Celebration during National Reconciliation Week "when resources companies have such good news to share".

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up almost five percent of Queensland’s resources workforce, which is higher than their level of representation in the state’s population, which is four percent,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“Direct Indigenous employment in Queensland’s resources sector grew by 24 percent in 2019-20, based on data collected from QRC members across the state.

“Direct Indigenous employment in the Queensland resources sector has in fact increased by 47 percent since 2016-17, which shows resources companies are committed to genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

“We’re also very proud that almost 14 percent of our sector’s Indigenous employees are apprentices and trainees, which is streets ahead of the proportion of Indigenous apprentices and trainees in the wider Queensland workforce, which is just under 4 percent,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our sector’s contribution also expands well beyond our own workforces.

“In 2019-20 Queensland’s resources sector spent $69 million dollars with 84 different Indigenous businesses across the state.”

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC’s highly successful Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) was also helping to grow the state's Indigenous skills pipeline.

“The Queensland Government’s Next Step Destination Data shows that of the Indigenous students who went into an apprenticeship or traineeship from QMEA schools, more than a third went into the mining industry," he said.

"This is a great outcome for these young Indigenous people and we look forward to seeing where their careers take them.

“Our industry provides exciting, skilled, and well-paid careers - not just jobs - for Indigenous Queenslanders, which is demonstrated by the outstanding winners of the 2020 Indigenous Awards whom we are honouring tonight, thanks to event partner Rio Tinto.”



A NEW PARTNERSHIP with Indigenous charity, Barayamal, has been announced by IBM in an effort to to support and drive Indigenous entrepreneurship in the technology sector. The announcement coincides with the start of National Reconciliation Week.

The partnership will see IBM work with Barayamal to help Indigenous Australians interested in a technology career build their skills and knowledge of the industry, including how artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud technologies are shaping the future for the ICT sector.

IBM's Australia and New Zealand managing director, Katrina Troughton said, “We are proud to partner with Barayamal, a leader in the Indigenous entrepreneurship space, who have launched a unique accelerator program and hackathon for Indigenous people. 

“IBM has worked hard over the past two years to build our foundations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation.  We have engaged IBMers across Australia to not only act, but to listen, learn and find practical ways to create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

"We have much to do in our industry and IBM's intention is to respectfully and positively impact this journey," Ms Troughton said.

“This partnership with Barayamal will help Indigenous Australians to build their ICT and STEM skills for the future. 

"It is an integral part of our vision of long-term, beneficial and reciprocal partnerships with the Traditional Custodians of our land that are culturally appropriate and inclusive,” Ms Troughton said.

IBM will work with Barayamal to help drive technology and innovation skills and outcomes for emerging Australian indigenous entrepreneurs by providing access to leading experts and mentors, and skills sessions to help participants learn about enterprise grade technologies to help solve problems and bring their innovation ideas to market.

Barayamal’s founder and CEO, Dean Foley said, “IBM is a great example of corporate innovation through engagement with grassroots Indigenous entrepreneurship and we are excited for this partnership.

“To kick off the partnership we recently hosted our first joint virtual Demo Day where six indigenous start-ups pitched to 80 attendees, showcasing innovative ideas across a range of sectors including design, printing, energy, health and digital identification.

“At Barayamal, we believe entrepreneurship and technology can change the world for the better. We’re on a mission to close the disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through rolling out programs, events and providing opportunities to support Indigenous entrepreneurs with the help of IBM,” Mr Foley said.

IBM will provide virtual and face to face ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions where participants can seek technical advice, guidance on their business model and market information to help them better understand the industry. 






By Leon Gettler >>

INDIGENOUS entrepreneurs are different and have faced more challenges than their non-indigenous peers, according to Dean Foley, founder and CEO of Barayamal, Australia's indigenous business accelerator and a world leader in Indigenous entrepreneurship.

Mr Foley said Indigenous entrepreneurs had their own unique perspectives on running a business. Compared with non-Indigenous business owners, they were much more community focused whereas non-Indigenous entrepreneurs were more individualistic and focused on profits at all costs.

“Their highest priority is community and how they operate the business and how they innovate is focused on community benefits, whereas in Australia generally, they focus on making profits for the owner and shareholders – so focusing on the individual benefits instead of the community benefits,” Mr Foley told Talking Business

“There are heaps of Indigenous entrepreneurs where they try to help and give back where they can. Like, we had an Indigenous catering business that would try and help community organisations by giving them discounts.”

Mr Foley said Barayamal had decided early to focus on revenue not only for revenue’s sake, but also the impact it was having on communities.

“Instead of just writing grants and that kind of stuff, we were looking at feedback from the community about some of the challenges, and what we can do and what we can build to have a bigger community impact instead of just trying to have more money,” Mr Foley said.


Dean Foley cited Rio Tinto blowing up the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge heritage site in the Pilbara last year, detonations which ultimately cost the jobs of Rio Tinto's chief executive, corporate affairs boss and the head of iron ore.

“If Rio Tinto was operating from a First Nations Indigenous perspective, that wouldn’t have happened per se because the benefit to the community, the environment, to the people would have been the highest priority,” he said.

Mr Foley said Indigenous entrepreneurs have their own distinctive challenges.

“They’ve been locked out of Australia’s economy for 150 years or so and there’s not much intergenerational wealth,” he said.

“When you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, most of them don’t come from average backgrounds. They come from quite wealthy backgrounds.

“Indigenous people generally speaking don’t have that kind of intergenerational wealth, a lot of them come from low socio-economic backgrounds. They’re just trying to survive.”

Mr Foley said access to capital was an issue for most Australian entrepreneurs, but Indigenous entrepreneurs found it even more difficult to get finance.

He cited studies showing Indigenous entrepreneurs faced other challenges where they were seen as “not being good enough”.


Barayamal had interviewed Indigenous entrepreneurs who said they did not have positive experiences with the banks. Even though banks had specialist staff focusing on Indigenous customers, they were found to be not that helpful.

“They don’t come from the average Australian background. They don’t really understand, or appreciate or connect with Indigenous people and Indigenous struggles, so access to finance, even though they have these tokenistic gestures, there’s nothing really happening there,” he said.

Mr Foley said Barayamal had reached out to venture capital (VC) funds, but got little support from the VCs. Also, most of the government funding for ‘closing the gap’ was going to non-Indigenous organisations.

“You see these big corporates and they’re always promoting corporate social responsibility in the Indigenous space, but you look behind the scenes, and they’re getting money from the government,” he said.

“The corporates got $90 million for Indigenous employment. These are publically listed companies that are making millions in profit and they can’t find the money to employ Indigenous people. They have to get it off the government.”



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



VICTORIA'S only 100 percent Indigenous-ertified social enterprise owned and operated print manufacturing company, Currency Print And Corporate Communications (CPCC) recently welcomed the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy -- and went to work.

The Federal Government’s 2020-21 Budget included the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which aims to help Australian manufacturers to become more competitive, build resilient supply chains and grow. 

"We welcome the announcement of this initiative which aims to support Australian manufacturers to be recognised as a high-quality and sustainable helping to deliver a strong, modern and resilient economy for all Australians," CPCC CEO Sara Stuart said.

However, she said, funds have currently been suppressed from the manufacturing with only $40 million allocated for this financial year from the Federal Government’s proposed $1.5 billion. She warned Australia was in its first recession in three decades and businesses were begging for support, but government bureaucracy and red tape appeared to be getting in the way. 
"While we welcome this initiative, we also recognise that it is limited in its scope and short-sighted in its timing, providing almost nothing to the sector at a time when we need to restructure and rebuild," Ms Stuart said. "The strategy fails to provide supply chain support to the priority industry sectors.

"Without strong and viable local supply chains these industries will still need to seek off-shore suppliers in order to be competitive and successful. This scheme does nothing to address this issue, which ultimately weakens our manufacturing sector and economy.

"We believe that more pressure should be applied to ensure print manufacturing stays here in Australia instead of government buying from overseas suppliers. We have enough print manufacturers here in Australia to service the sector, however, without the support, more jobs will be lost," Ms Stuart said. 

"We are not asking anyone to increase their print spend, just spend it here with Australia business and give the Aboriginal printers a fair go. We are not asking for a handout, We just want to be given the opportunity to help government and corporate clients meet their procurement targets."

Many government bodies and large corporates have procurement targets for engaging with Indigenous businesses.

According to Ms Stuart, manufacturing is a powerful Australian economic force, despite the low prioritisation from government over recent decades, the value of which has been proven in Japan after World War Two and more recently in China where most of today's products are manufactured. Manufacturing aroudn the world has created trillions of revenue, millions of jobs and lifted more people out of poverty in recent years -- but in Australia the sector has been in decline and the folly of that has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic's ramifications.


QUEENSLAND Resources Council has welcomed the extended commitment from the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships  to work with QRC and its members to boost employment opportunities for Indigenous Queenslanders.

“Our members, whether they are coal, metal and gas explorers and producers or their suppliers, are providing more opportunities for Indigenous Queenslanders, not just for a job in resources, but for a fulfilling career,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

He said the department’s extended commitment to the partnership, first forged 12 years ago, would help ensure the resources sector continued to be a leader in providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  

“The proportion of Indigenous Queenslanders working in the resources sector is on par with the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in Queensland – 4 percent," Mr Macfarlane said.

“It’s important that we have the continued support of the Queensland Government, and the department.  I welcome the extended commitment and QRC looks forward to continuing to build upon the proud record."

Mr Macfarlane said the annual QRC Indigenous Awards would be held on November 30. The awards celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the Queensland resources sector and set up ongoing networking and career opportunities for applicants and award winners.



THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said Indigenous businesses secured more than $850 million in Commonwealth contracts in 2019/20, proving that procurement targets are working.

According to figures from the National Indigenous Australians Agency, more than 900 Indigenous businesses won 7,749 Commonwealth contracts valued at $857 million in total during the 2019/20 financial year.

“The Federal Government has exceeded its annual Indigenous procurement targets which is helping to support this fast-growing sector,” Ms Carnell said.

“According to data from Supply Nation, the number of Indigenous businesses is growing by 12.5 percent each year, which goes to show how effective procurement targets can be when adopted by governments.

“Encouragingly, the number of Indigenous-owned businesses is projected to grow from 16,000 to 18,000 by 2026. This is good for the sector and good for our economy more broadly.

“We know that every dollar spent with an Indigenous business goes a long way. According to Supply Nation, for every $1 of revenue, certified Indigenous suppliers generate $4.41 of social return," Ms Carnell said. 

“Procuring from Indigenous businesses is an investment in both Indigenous employment and economic development, with Indigenous businesses 100 times more likely to employ other indigenous staff.

NAIDOC Week is a time when we celebrate Indigenous culture, but we should also be recognising the significant contribution indigenous people make to the Australian business community and to our economy.”

ASBFEO has published a series of Indigenous Success Stories, profiling a number of inspiring indigenous business owners.

Kate Carnell’s NAIDOC Week 2020 video message: click here.




HESTA, the health and community servicews superannuation fund, is calling for the mining and energy industries to adopt consistent principles for engaging with Indigenous communities. HESTA claims investors are concerned risks are appropriately managed, in the wake of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge Caves in Western Australia by Rio Tinto.

HESTA has released a Statement on Working with Indigenous Communities detailing its investor expectations around how companies manage risks associated with Indigenous heritage protection issues and has written to 14 Australian mining and energy companies.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the $52 billion industry super fund had informed the companies HESTA was embarking on a direct engagement program on this issue. 

The engagement program will focus on understanding how companies have properly assessed and mitigated risks, how closely this aligns to their public statements and where the accountability for these actions rest. The results of meetings will inform how the fund could use shareholder resolutions or voting to seek change.  

“We are committed to engaging with companies to understand how they are managing these issues, and we will consider using our voting rights where we identify the need for improved practices and disclosure,” Ms Blakey said.

Ms Blakey said investors were dismayed at the destruction of culturally significant sites at Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto.

“Not only was priceless heritage destroyed and the costs borne by shareholders as a result, but we had believed this risk to be well managed in our portfolio,” she said.

“This has prompted us to renew our focus on ensuring fair and sustainable outcomes for Indigenous communities and companies.

“Our statement is also something we hope will help other investors and encourage collaboration so we can work together to push for change,” Ms Blakey said.

“What occurred with Rio is a wake-up call for all investors. It has caused us to review how we are assessing company performance in this area and how we can more effectively advocate for legislative and regulatory change.

“Global investors like HESTA are concerned that engagement with Traditional Owners is well managed wherever companies operate. Through this statement we also hope to encourage collective investor action to amplify the positive impact we can have here in Australia and internationally.”

The Statement is based on the principle that Indigenous Peoples own and determine the value of their tangible and intangible heritage and control that heritage and determine who has access to it.

Ms Blakey said HESTA expected company boards to have oversight of how companies monitor shifting societal expectations and if decisions made in the past remain appropriate.

“Investors expect companies to think strategically about future opportunities and risks that may impact their businesses. Likewise, they should also be thinking about how changing societal expectations may impact their decisions around heritage and community engagement.”


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