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.


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


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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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.


THE Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council has attracted several new members with strong business backgrounds, as well as substantial policy expertise.

Notable among the joining members is NPY Women’s Council CEO Andrea Mason, who was the Australian Businesswomen of the Year in 2016 and is currently the Northern Territory Australian of the Year. Ms Mason’s NPY Women’s Council is a highly regarded organisation committed to delivering youth and well-being programs and addressing domestic and family violence.  

Also joining the council is Stronger Smarter Institute founder and chairman, Chris Sarra. Apart from his many qualifications in education, administration and psychology, Professor Sarra is renowned for his business acumen and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and an honorary fellow of the School of Ethical Leadership at the Melbourne Business School.

University of Wollongong Indigenous Health professor Ngiare Brown is a Yuin nation woman from the South Coast of NSW who is also the foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. Among her many credits as a senior medical practitioner in the areas of public health and primary care, she has also studied bioethics, medical law and human rights.

Others joining the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council include Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation CEO Susan Murphy, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council chairman Roy Ah See, and Djambawa Marawilli, a traditional owner from Baniyala and an accomplished artist who co-ordinated the 2002 sea rights claim in the Blue Mud Bay region of North East Arnhem Land, won in the High Court in 2008.

The appointments reflect the expertise and innovation that exist in Indigenous Australia and we look forward to working with the new Council to drive better outcomes for our First Australians,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. These appointments are for three years. 

“The new Council will play an important role by engaging at the heart of Government, including with the Indigenous Policy Committee of Cabinet, collaborating with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, and ensuring the government is well positioned to renew the expiring Closing the Gap targets in the year ahead.

“The new Council members will meet and provide advice to the Government on the final makeup of the Council and its terms of reference. This will include engaging with other Indigenous Australians who have requested to be on the Council.”

Biographies of the new Council members 


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.


NAIDOC Week, running from July 2-9, is to focus on Indigenous languages for 2017.

The theme of NAIDOC Week 2017 is Our Languages Matter and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, has announced a National NAIDOC Poster Competition centred on that theme.

“For First Australians, language links people to their land and water – it is how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is transferred through generations,” Mr Scullion said.

There were 250 distinct Indigenous language groups in Australia at the time Europeans first made contact. Now, only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost.

The Federal Government recently announced $22.8 million in funding to help keep Indigenous languages alive and showcase traditional and contemporary Indigenous cultural and artistic expression

Entries for the National NAIDOC Poster Competition close on March 20.




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