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Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship program boosts support for Traditional Owners

by Greg Chapman

Image: supplied

Malachi Johnson hopes the CQUniversity-Arrow Energy Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program will not only help him upskill, but also support the training of and participation by Traditional Owners in Central Queensland.

Whanu Binal is delivered in partnership by Arrow Energy and CQUniversity. While Arrow Energy has run the Whanu Binal program in various forms since 2013, the partnership with CQUniversity was launched in July 2019.

The Whanu Binal program is dedicated to improving Indigenous business outcomes by not only supporting business owners and entrepreneurs but encouraging individuals and organisations to support Indigenous-owned businesses.

Malachi, who belongs to the Gooreng Gooreng Nation of the Port Curtis and Coral Coast region, is the Project Coordinator for TUMRA (Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements) through Darumbal Enterprises Pty Ltd in Rockhampton. He joined the Whanu Binal program as a mentee and his mentor is also his supervisor at Darumbal, Malcolm Mann.

“Malcolm is the reason I moved to Rockhampton from Bundy to take on the TUMRA role – he’s like family to me,” he said.

“The opportunity to learn from him is one of the greatest moments of my life.”

Malachi said his TUMRA role involved being a conduit between Traditional Owners and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

“I’m there to look for opportunities for Traditional Owners, set up contracts and provide them with employment or training,” he said.

“I joined Whanu Binal to upskill – I want to eventually own my own company and the program is helping me to be prepared for that.

“The program has already broadened my way of thinking from a business perspective on how to continue to help Traditional Owners. My understanding on setting up contracts has improved too.”

Malachi encourages other First Nations entrepreneurs or business owners to sign up to Whanu Binal.

“It’s very beneficial. The people involved all have lived experience. There’s no judgement and it’s not like a westernised course,” he said.

“If you have an idea, you are free to speak it and the program prepares you for the challenges and struggles that can come from having a business and Indigenous people can face a lot of challenges in business and in life.”

Prospective participants can apply by submitting an expression of interest via https://www.cqu.edu.au/whanu-binal-indigenous-entrepreneur-program

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