TWO INDIGENOUS entrepreneurs are building an educational platform where Indigenous people can tell their history, their way, and make experiencing Indigenous culture easy for non-Indigenous people. Our Songlines is an interactive mapping platform that connects people to culture.

The web-based platform, co-founded by Our Songlines director and CEO Kayla Cartledge and director Jake Berthelot, tracks your current location and connects you to Indigenous areas of significance around you -- things such as sites, authentic experiences and tours, galleries, cafes and local businesses.

Our Songlines, which has been developed while participating in the Indigenous business incubator Barayamal Accelerator program, allows socially conscious travellers to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture that they know is authentic no matter their timeframes or budget. The platform is available to anyone who has a computer or smartphone and is extremely easy for anyone to navigate. 

“One of our main focuses for Our Songlines is being able to tell a true account of Australian history through our people’s stories and reflect the Indigenous people in a far more positive light then what has been previously taught,"Our Songlines director and CEO Kayla Cartledge said.

"We believe that through this educational platform, our Indigenous and non-Indigenous brothers and sisters will be able to connect to culture in a whole new way and begin to bridge the gap through knowledge sharing and understanding," Ms Cartledge said.

Consultation is an important element to the information collection process and connecting with people, traditional custodians, land councils and cultural business owners is vital in the building and operation of the platform.

Our Songlines is currently undergoing a consultation process and has successfully partnered with three traditional custodians and land councils in Victoria so far.

"Since working in the Barayamal Accelerator, we have deepened our cultural knowledge, continued to build an active social media and website community and mapped over 400 cultural areas," Ms Cartledge said. "A key element of Our Songlines is providing people with authentic cultural experiences and this is done by having bookable experiences on the web-platform that are guaranteed to be Indigenous operated.  

Our Songlines plans to expand into places of significance in other states and territories as well as further into Victoria.



INDIGENOUS Business Month (IBM) will introduce three awards to recognise the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to their communities and to Australian society.

A spokesperson said the Indigenous Business Month Awards will showcase the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and provide identifiable national and local role models to inspire all Australians.

The Indigenous Business Month Awards are: 

I2I Award
Indigenous businesses buying from and/or supplying to fellow Indigenous businesses build an interconnected and strong Indigenous business sector by supporting each other. Instances of mentoring and peer-to-peer support or development of new ventures and/or initiatives are encouraged in this category. This award celebrates the commitment by Indigenous businesses to strengthen and grow the sector through trading and working together. 

Indigenous Digital Inventiveness Award
Indigenous digital inventiveness is maturing in Australia. Communities are more connected than ever through digital expression such as emails, instant messaging and texting -- and at a much larger scale through digital enterprise, namely business operations and technology. This award celebrates the intersection between cultural creativity, 'business nous' and technology.

Indigenous Ingenuity Award
Indigenous business has a role to play in using business models to confront challenging community issues. This award celebrates an Indigenous business which is working hard to solve challenges in partnerships with Indigenous communities.

The IBM Awards will be held on October 30 at the Melbourne Business School, where final winners will be announced.

Michelle Evans, MURRA program director and associate professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said, “Indigenous Business Month is now in its fifth year and we are very excited to be able to introduce the Indigenous Business Month Awards and celebrate the Ingenuity of Indigenous businesses. It also allows us to showcase the contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders businesses make, not only to their communities but to the growing Australian economy."

The judging panel includes; Mikaela Jade, CEO and founder of Indigital;Natalie Walker, founder and managing director of Inside Policy; and Scott Young, managing director of Young Guns.

“It is a real honour to be part of the first Indigenous Business Month Awards and go behind the scenes on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses operate, develop, connect and face challenges. The winners will be the cornerstone for future Indigenous businesses.” said Young Guns managing director Scott Young.

Indigenous Business Month runs annually from October 1 to October 31. Registrations to host and attend an event is now open.

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 CGU.

To enter your business:


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

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


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.


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.”


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