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.”


By Leon Gettler >>

INDIGENOUS entrepreneurs are a growing group.  Dean Foley, who set up Australia's first Indigenous-focused start-up accelerator, Barayamal, said they are “coming from all over the place”.

Barayamal has been developing many Indigenous start-ups. They emerge from unexpected places and there is a wide range of Indigenous start-ups.

While some might think the only Indigenous start-ups are land-based agriculture businesses or art companies, they are, in fact, exploring unexpected areas.

Barayamal’s accelerator program had developed one cyber security business that had been making hundreds of thousands dollars consulting and then created a digital product. 

There was also a company that developed the technology and algorithms to help people save on medical costs by using their smart phone camera to take pictures of their teeth, for early diagnosis.

Then there was another start-up that was selling Indigenous fashion online.

“A lot of them are trying to focus on the broader community and market their products instead of just trying to sell to other Indigenous people,” Mr Foley told Talking Business.


Barayamal means ‘Black Swan’ in Kamilaroi language. Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697. Dean Foley said he chose the name to show that Indigenous businesses were different.

Proof, he said, was in the way the Indigenous entrepreneurial community was growing.

“It’s one of the fastest growing demographics in Australian business,” Mr Foley said.

He said there are now 8000 Indigenous businesses more than a decade ago.

“It’s the fastest growing (sector) compared to non-Indigenous entrepreneurship,” Mr Foley said. 

“However, because of disadvantage and everything that’s happened over the last 200 years, Indigenous entrepreneurs are still three or four times less likely to be self-employed compared to the national average – but there is good stuff happening with Indigenous entrepreneurship.

“Also with land rights and all that kind of stuff coming in in the past 20 years, approximately 40 percent of Australia’s land mass has been returned to Indigenous control which is obviously helping create assets and wealth in the community to try and combat poverty and the massive disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”


Mr Foley said Indigenous businesses still struggled to raise capital and there was a massive disparity gap.

“A lot of Indigenous people haven’t got inter-generational wealth,” Mr Foley said. “We can’t borrow from our parents because they have no money and they don’t own a house …”

Nor do they have the kind of relationship with banks that non-Indigenous businesses have.

“Banks generally make most of th eir money from mortgages and for any Australian to get a business loan, you need to have collateral because they’re very risk averse about entrepreneurship and maybe more so with Indigenous entrepreneurship, with stereotypes and that kind of stuff. Indigenous entrepreneurs might be perceived as more risky.”

Mr Foley said Indigenous start-ups were no different from other start-ups, starting small and building up from there.

One of the key differences was that more Indigenous businesses were practising social entrepreneurship

“It’s more community focused and the profits go back into running programs and making an impact, whereas commercial businesses are – generally speaking – there to make money for shareholders and that kind of stuff,” he said.

“It’s different focuses and that’s what I see as the difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurship.

“Indigenous entrepreneurship is probably very similar top social entrepreneurship, although Indigenous entrepreneurship has been around for a lot longer,” Mr Foley said. 




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



THE WORLD’S FIRST Indigenous Accelerator was run by Barayamal in November 2016, continuing in successive years and now Barayamal is organising its second accelerator based in Victoria from September 7, 2020, with support from LaunchVic.

Five innovative First Nations businesses will be selected for the Barayamal Accelerator at the Victorian Innovation Hub. 

The three-month program will support First Nations businesses to break through the COVID-19 challenges to grow their businesses by providing mentoring and training by industry experts, $50,000 in grant funding, and an opportunity to showcase their businesses at the national Demo Day and Awards event on November 27.

"I really liked the accelerator program,” 2019 Barayamal Accelerator participant Kayla Cartledge from Our Songlines said. “We’ve got an amazingly strong community built on trust and cultural principles ... the connections we made were everlasting.”

Another 2019 Barayamal Accelerator participant, Niyoka Bundle from Pawa Catering and Events said, “We've met other really great Indigenous entrepreneurs, shared our experiences and learnt from each other.”

Stewart Stacey from Binary Security, another 2019 Barayamal Accelerator participant said, “Just in the half an hour after receiving the award, I had many people walk up to me saying that they thought we'd done a really good job and they could see the message and they can see the value and they want to help.

“I've got a pocketful of business cards that I can't wait to get back home and start calling. And, and you know, making these contacts and building these relationships ... just been unbelievable. It’s gone past what I thought it would be ... and I'm very proud and honoured to be a part of it.”

Barayamal founder Dean Foley believes First Nations entrepreneurship can change the world for the better.  

“We do this by running an Indigenous business accelerator, free events, the Indigipreneur podcast, school-based education, building technology solutions and by investing time and funding Indigenous startups, which are the high-growth economic and employment solution,” Mr Foley said.

Barayamal means ‘black swan’ in Gamilaraay language. Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but before that, Europeans had only known of a white swan.

“In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovative businesses,” Mr Foley said. “Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and they can also build global businesses.”

He also thanked LaunchVic for the support it gives to Barayamal and its various programs.



AS AUSTRALIAN entrepreneurs adapt their business models to a world of remote working and disruption, Barayamal is taking its business accelerator programs online to continue supporting First Nations entrepreneurs.

"The Barayamal Virtual Accelerator has launched, which is open to First Nations people who are interested in learning how to take their business to the next level and take control of their future - self-determination through First Nations entrepreneurship," Barayamal CEO Dean Foley said. 

First Nations entrepreneur Mr Foley said the the digital economy has the potential to be a gamechanger for First Nations people and communities. 

“Barayamal programs are about inspiring and supporting the next generation of First Nations entrepreneurs," Mr Foley said. "It’s essential to keep supporting First Nations entrepreneurship development in this disruptive and fast-changing global economy because there will be new opportunities arising from these challenging times that can benefit our communities.

"Traditional or grassroots First Nations Entrepreneurship can change the world for the better,” he said.

The free 10-week business accelerator program will provide weekly mentoring and one-on-one coaching support along with a workbook and other resources to accelerator business growth.

In addition, participants who graduate will also receive a digital accreditation in 'First Nations Entrepreneurship' for their hard work and dedication, Mr Foley said.



THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) is calling for nominations for its 2020 Indigenous Awards which “recognise and celebrate the incredible achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the state’s resources sector”.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector was committed to providing economic pathways and opportunities to Indigenous Australians from Brisbane to Cape York.

“Our sector is a significant economic resource which can drive wealth and prosperity for Indigenous people and communities,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Indigenous people comprise 4 percent of the state’s workforce in resources and Queensland’s Indigenous population is 4 percent. We are one of only two sectors with a true representation of Indigenous people in our workforce.  

“Another milestone is Indigenous women in resources who represent 24 percent of the Indigenous workforce, which is close to twice the non-Indigenous rate,” he said.

“Separately, land agreements under the Native Title Act provide benefits such as community development, education and heritage initiatives.”

The seventh annual awards on the June 1 will be presented during National Reconciliation Week, at the Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane.

Keynote speaker will be Fiona Jose, chief executive officer at Cape York Partnership.

“Fiona is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with a passion for empowering local change in Indigenous communities and understands the importance of showcasing Indigenous role models and ambassadors,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The Closing the Gap 2018 update reported 6599 Indigenous Australians were employed by the mining industry, an increase by 250 percent since 2006. The number of non-Indigenous Australians employed in mining had increased by 150 percent over the same period.

“The same report stated the mining industry itself is employing significantly more Indigenous Australians than previously and we need to champion these employees,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

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 to the Queensland resources sector.
  • Best Company Indigenous Procurement Initiative Award recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business participation within resources sector supply chains or programs to support business development and capability in the broader economy.
  • Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative Award recognises companies that have developed and maintained strategies that enhance the attraction and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in either the resources industry or broader economy.
  • 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.

Nomination forms: https://www.qrc.org.au/policies/qrc-indigenous-awards/


AFTER RUNNING the world’s first Indigenous Accelerator in November 2016, Barayamal will be operating more business programs in Victoria, thanks to LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency.

According to Barayamal founder Dean Foley, the rate of entrepreneurship nationally for non-Aboriginal Australians is still about three times greater than that of Indigenous Australians.

However, he said, LaunchVic’s annual mapping of the Victorian startup sector found that Indigenous Australians make up two percent of Victoria’s startup founders, while representing only one percent of Victoria’s population.

On Friday the March 27, Barayamal will be running an intensive Pre-Accelerator program at the Victorian Innovation Hub.

Mr Foley said this program would explore how Indigenous entrepreneurs could quickly validate their business idea without spending a lot of money, the key differences between Indigenous versus non-Indigenous entrepreneurship, and how to pitch to investors. 

Indigenous entrepreneurs who need help launching or taking their business idea to the next level are being encouraged by Mr Foley to register now for Barayamal’s Pre-Accelerator program, with nominations closing on March 20.


Barayamal is an award-winning Indigenous accelerator, which runs intensive entrepreneurship programs for Indigenous entrepreneurs, by Indigenous entrepreneurs – which Mr Foley and his team have dubbed ‘Indigipreneurs’ – who want to achieve their self-determination aspirations through Indigenous entrepreneurship.

At Barayamal, we believe that entrepreneurship and technology can change the world for the better,” Mr Foley said.

“We do this by building technology solutions, running business accelerator programs, free events, the Indigipreneur podcast, school-based education and by investing time and funding Indigenous startups, which are the high-growth economic and employment solution.”

Barayamal means ‘black swan’ in Gamilaraay language. Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but before that, Europeans had only known of white swans.

“In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovative businesses,” Mr Foley said.

“Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and they can also build global businesses.

“Barayamal acknowledges the support it receives from LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency.”



FIRST NATIONS Foundation (FNF) is today launching the world’s first digital financial literacy education program to help First Nations people develop their financial knowledge.

According to First Nations Foundation CEO, Amanda Young, while the content of My Money Dream has been developed by Indigenous people for Indigenous people, FNF has added the might and scale of Australia’s largest industries by offering this to the financial services industry, government and employers to engage with their Indigenous customers and staff.

The training is a validated training program, she said, adapted from 10 years of face-to-face delivery by the foundation and transforms the lives of individuals, their family, friends and communities.  

“We released research in 2019 showing the alarming statistic that nine in 10 Indigenous people have no financial security. This cannot be transcended without financial literacy, and we are enlisting the help of government and industry to help reach and build a financially-savvy Indigenous population.” Ms Young said.

“This is the first step in our Indigenous financial wellbeing strategy.  My Money Dream is a brilliant and low-cost way to bring financial knowledge into the lives of Indigenous people at scale. Potentially we can teach tens of thousands of people, because everyone has a digital device," she said.

"We are asking financial services who want to connect with their Indigenous members to buy My Money Dream and offer it, as a powerful way to build skills and trust. We ask governments to help prepare our Indigenous workers of the future with money skills, for people on cashless welfare cards to skill up and exit that system and for employers to attract and retain their Indigenous staff with this professional development tool.

"We have done the hard work: expert content. All they need to do is buy licenses and start offering to their desired audience.”

Developed with the support of Indigenous Business Australia and Australian Unity, the program helps First Nations people aged 16-60 navigate the financial obstacles unique to Indigenous people, including lessons on money and culture, budgeting, banking, superannuation, insurance, loans and credit, buying a home, buying a car and financial first aid. Using a clever blend of culture, humour and deep knowledge, it is an engaging learning platform.

“Financial knowledge is a powerful tool for prosperity across communities,” Australian Unity head of partnerships Benson Saulo said. “Our ongoing commitment across the Indigenous community is enabling economic empowerment – financial literacy and wellbeing is a critical element of that.”

The platform gives philanthropists who want to create social change in Indigenous communities the power to do so, by allowing them to fund the purchase of user licences to be distributed on their behalf.

The first philanthropic organisation to purchase licences is the Rowe Family Foundation, managed by Perpetual as trustee.

Perpetual’s general manager of community and social investment, Caitriona Fay, said of the support of the Rowe Family Foundation: “As trustee of the Rowe Family Foundation, Perpetual is proud to support Indigenous businesses and communities. Philanthropy has a responsibility to back Indigenous-led organisations who are looking to tackle issues like financial literacy and who are seeking to improve the overall wellbeing of our nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

The Wunan Foundation will be the first recipient of donated licences.

“Financial literacy education is a vital educational tool in building necessary life skills that equips people both young and old with the financial knowledge, resilience and awareness to manage effectively in mainstream society today” Wunan Foundation head of financial wellbeing and housing services, Tanya Hill said.

My Money Dream is built on the success of FNF’s in-person financial literacy training, delivered to 1200 people over the last 10 years, where results showed 90 percent of participants had more confidence in managing money, 83 percent felt better at managing money, and 70 percent were more confident about their financial future, confirming recent research that Indigenous-led products work (Oxfam In Good Hands, 2019).

The adaption to an online format was completed by edu-tech leader, Androgogic.

“Androgogic is proud to be a key partner supporting First Nations Foundation and we were delighted to be able to provide both the Educational Technology infrastructure and the courseware development for the My Money Dream project,” Androgogic CEO, founder and principal education technologist, Alexander Roche said.

FNF chair and Yorta Yorta man, Ian Hamm said, "We are at a time where First Nations people have digital access. This Genesis Generation now have the digital tools for Indigenous economic participation. We offer a meaningful way to learn about money which has personal development elements to work within their community."

My Money Dream licences can be purchased from mymoneydream.com.au or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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