Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group brings together an outstanding group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, business leaders and researchers to provide strategic advice on matters that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The reference group aims to help increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs and innovators, and support the development of existing businesses across Queensland.

Members represent an enormous breadth of knowledge and experience.

The reference group is an important step in achieving better social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and we thank this dedicated group of advocates for their time and dedication to this initiative.

To be considered for appointment to the reference group you need to join the Queensland Register of Nominees to Government Boards.

For more information please contact the secretariat via email ReferenceGroupSec@dtis.qld.gov.au.

Indigenous Business Representative Body consultation

Have your say about the Indigenous Business Representative Body.

The reference group is consulting with Queensland Indigenous business owners about the potential establishment of a representative body for First Nations businesses.

The discussion will explore the need for a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. It would enable Indigenous business owners as a collective to self-manage while offering the freedom to pursue economic opportunity and protecting Indigenous business interest and rights.

Consultation will be managed through:

  • Face to face workshops across Queensland
  • An online survey
  • Online yarning circles
  • One on one phone calls

Please complete the online survey or if you would like to be contacted, please email your name, phone number (during business hours) and a brief detail of your enquiry to RegionalInnovation@dtis.qld.gov.au

Meet the Business and Innovation Reference Group

Cr Wayne Butcher, Mayor, Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council (associate BIRG member)

Wayne is Mayor of the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council and is now in his third term as Mayor (2012 to present). Wayne was also a Councillor between 1988 and 1990 (three-year term) for the Lockhart River Aboriginal Council. Wayne later trained as Deputy Council Clerk (in the mid 1990s) and eventually CEO in 2000 LRAC/LRASC. 

He helps steer the community to a positive future with a focus on building strong leadership within the Shire’s different areas of local government and building the people of the Lockhart River community as a foundation for a sustainable future. 

Wayne has been instrumental in the rollout of leadership building programs, including school holiday employment, traineeships and apprenticeship programs, throughout the different facets of the Community and Council. During his leadership, he has also restructured the LRASC, introducing business models and opportunities, within the Council and the community. In particular, capturing designated government investment into the Shire area in through capital investment in civil and building construction and capitalising these investments into businesses. 

For example, 50% of LRASC Civil Construction program is delivered by 100% local-owned Lockhart Community businesses (companies, partnerships and sole traders).

Wayne believes that building a local community starts by investing in the next generation. Building capacity and capability within people is a key strategy to progress, which captures health, education, youth, sports, language, culture and arts that helps to build the social fabric of the Lockhart River.

Cr Ross Andrews, Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council

Ross is a Yarrabah man with cultural ties to Djungan and Yalanji of Far North Queensland. He has a business degree, majoring in Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Management. As the Mayor of Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, he manages portfolios across all areas, helping to coordinate the Council’s focus on using resources to build digital skills in young people and engaging them in the community. Ross was involved in the development of the Yarrabah Town Planning Scheme, enabling good decision-making regarding future land use in Yarrabah and other strategic planning framework that contributes to the well-being of his people. He is also:

  • on the Far North Queensland Regional Organisations of Council (FNQROC)
  • one of the Directors for the Wugu Nyambil Board
  • the Chairperson of the Yarrabah Leaders Forum, which set the strategic direction of Yarrabah
  • a member of the Local and Regional Design Group on the Co-design of a National Voice to Parliament
  • a passionate volunteer at the Yarrabah Seahawks Sports Club.

Mundanara Bayles, The BlackCard Pty Ltd

Mundanara’s cultural heritage is connected to the Wonnarua and Bunjalung people on her
mother’s side and the Birri-Gubba and Gungalu on her father’s side. She grew up in
Redfern, New South Wales with her eight sisters and moved to her father’s country in the early 1990s. Her family has been active in the Aboriginal movement since the 1960s, following their example, and in her father’s footsteps, she is a proud advocate and aims to make a positive contribution for her people.

Mundanara has more than 18 years’ experience working for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations across New South Wales and Queensland, including (but not limited to):
•    Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
•    Salvation Army Employment Plus
•    Busy at Work 
•    Child Support Agency
•    The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH)
•    Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

An Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Mundanara has formal
qualifications in the disciplines of media, business, assessment and training and is
a member of several committees and boards, including the:

•    Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School (also known as The Murri School).
•    Queensland Tourism Industry Council Indigenous Employment Champions Network.
•    Indigenous Education, Research and Employment Committee (IEREC) at the Queensland University of Technology.

Mundanara is also a co-founder and the Managing Director of The Australian BlackCard – a Supply Nation certified, 100% Aboriginal owned and operated business. BlackCard was co-founded with respected Aboriginal Elder, artist, educator and long-time course developer, Dr Lilla Watson. 

BlackCard’s purpose is to work with people, not for people, with the genius of Aboriginal Knowledge. It is a specialist consultancy business that provides cultural capability training and consultancy services that enable people and organisations to work effectively with members of the Aboriginal community.

Leah Cameron, Marrawah Law Pty Ltd

Leah is a prominent figure in the legal profession and owner of leading Indigenous legal practice, Marrawah Law. While her practitioner skills were forged in property law, native title and culture heritage matters, her passion has evolved into providing mainstream commercial law services for government, corporates and Indigenous businesses across the country.

Leah’s philosophy of doing law differently has been the driving force behind the firm’s growth. She has gained national and international rankings including for the esteemed Chambers Guide. 

Leah continues to be a passionate advocate for the growth of the Indigenous-owned business sector, women in business and a more collaborative form of a commercial legal practice that establishes win-win outcomes for all stakeholders.

Most recently, Leah has been recognised as one of the Top 20 Under 40 business entrepreneurs in Australia; the National winner of the Indigenous Legal Practitioner of the Year, and has taken out the top gong for Excellence at the Women in Law Awards.

Shane Kennelly, Kennelly Constructions

Shane Kennelly is a proud Bundjalung man with more than 20 years’ experience in senior executive positions. He is the Managing Director of Kennelly Constructions and First People Recruitment Solutions, which have been operating since 2010 and 2015. 
Shane is a practical and skilled executive with demonstrated success and experience in leading and building sustainable growth for businesses across the defence, telecommunication, construction, resources and energy sectors. He has a Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Sydney University and a Masters of Business from the University of Western Sydney.  
Shane is passionate about providing long-term sustainable employment opportunities through direct employment, and ensuring the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector thrives. He also wants to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in STEM to ensure that they are not further marginalised due to technological advances. Shane is also 
•    Chair of Supply Nation’s Indigenous Business Reference Group
•    Non-Executive Director for Engineers without Borders
•    Member of the CSIRO Indigenous Innovation Alliance
•    Member of the DT Global RAP Advisory Committee
•    Member of the Bond University Business Advisory Board
•    Member of the Southern Cross University Engineering Industry Advisory Group.

Julie-ann Lambourne, Tagai Management Consultants

Julie-ann Lambourne is a Torres Strait Islander woman of Mabuiag and Darnley Islands. She is a Senior Consultant with Tagai Management Consultants (TMC). TMC is a management consultancy specialising in procurement, supply chain, stakeholder engagement, business advisory and advanced futures. Julie-ann is also a returning member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Innovation Reference Group.

Noel Niddrie, Winangali & Winangali Logistics

Noel is a Dharug and Kamilaroi man and one of Australia’s leading Indigenous evaluators. He has worked in the Indigenous engagement space for more than 30 years and as a consultant for 20 years. A pioneer of Indigenous communications and research, Noel is the founder of Winangali, a multi award-winning Indigenous communications and research consultancy specialising in engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander markets. He is also the Director of Winangali Logistics, an Indigenous-owned freight management and warehousing company. In 2012, Winangali was awarded the Telstra Queensland Business of the Year and the Telstra Queensland Micro-Business of the Year.

Steve Noy, Biodiversity Australia and Noy Industries

Steve is the Founder and Managing Director of Biodiversity Australia, a national environmental consultancy. With more than 25 years’ experience in wildlife and aviation management as well as fauna research, Steve has a wealth of operational and practical knowledge and expertise in environmental management. Steve’s advanced experience in the industry has led him to sit as a committee member on many industry boards. Steve also initiated the conception of a formal “Spotter Catcher Industry Group” to help develop and standardise a Spotter Catcher Code of Practice. The implementation of this Code of Practice will result in an increase in standards within the industry in Australia.
Steve’s extensive knowledge in environmental management led him to found Biodiversity Australia’s sister company, Noy Industries. From its inception, Noy Industries has grown substantially as an Australian manufacturer and global supplier of less-than-lethal, pyrotechnic ammunition and designer of firearm platforms. Noy industries has established themselves as a leader in Bird, Wildlife & Human Mitigation products which cater to a broad range of clients.
Steve’s Indigenous heritage has influenced the way in which Biodiversity Australia and Noy Industries operates, resulting in Steve’s personal and business pursuits in driving Indigenous-owned business growth and success, the overall growth of the sector, and encouraging education and employment for Indigenous youth. This strong desire to drive Indigenous growth has resulted in Steve becoming a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Innovation Reference Group (BIRG). 

Colin Saltmere, The Myuma Group & Rainbow Gateway Ltd

Colin is the Managing Director of the Myuma Group of non-profit corporations, owned and managed by Camooweal’s Indjalandji-Dhidhanu traditional owners for the benefit of the region’s predominantly Aboriginal communities. The Myuma Group manages the ongoing development and expansion of Indigenous civil construction, hospitality, catering, labour hire and business training.

Karen Seage, Snap Industries

Karen is a Noonuccal woman from Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island, and also the franchise owner of Snap Underwood. Snap Underwood is a wholly-owned Indigenous business specialising in the production of digital, large format, promotional products and offset printing. Karen has worked in many areas of the print and design industry for 32 years since completing a degree as a graphic designer in 1998. She purchased Snap Underwood in 2013 and currently employs and trains Indigenous women in all aspects of print and design.

Kantesha Takai, Strait Removals

Kantesha is the heart and soul behind Lola Digital, a boutique creative and content agency based in the Torres Strait. As a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, Kantesha is passionate about encouraging and supporting her people to start and operate their own businesses. In 2018, Kantesha founded her first business, Strait Removals, a 100% Indigenous-owned and operated removals and relocations service based in the Torres Strait. Selling the business in 2020, Kantesha established her current business, Lola Digital. 

Kantesha holds a Bachelor Mass Communications from Queensland University of Technology and offers her marketing services and support to local and national Indigenous businesses and non-profit organisations. Kantesha has worked in marketing across a range of industries from real estate to tourism and this experience has equipped her with a range of knowledge and skills.

Leesa Watego, Iscariot Media

Leesa is the owner of Iscariot Media Pty Ltd, an Aboriginal owned business specialising in creative and digital solutions that make an impact. She is also the founder of Deadly Bloggers, Australia’s first online directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bloggers. 

Leesa has been involved in South East Queensland community organisations and in micro-business since the mid-1990s. Her experience has equipped her with range of knowledge and skills from many areas including academia, education and social media. Leesa was recognised as an Advance Queensland Community Digital Champion in 2016.

Leann Wilson, Regional Economic Solutions

Leann Wilson is the Managing Director of Regional Economic Solutions, a majority owned First Nation business.

Leann is a descendent of the Bidjara and Kara-Kara peoples in central and central-western Queensland, and also identifies with her South Sea Island heritage. 

Leann has been appointed to regional, state and national boards including:
•    The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation
•    The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation
•    The Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council 
•    Aboriginal Hostels Limited
•    The Queensland Government Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group. 

An entrepreneur of nine years and former senior public servant, Leann has been a finalist in the Queensland Telstra Business Woman of the Year awards and has been the recipient of The Queensland Centenary Medal. Recently she has been a recipient of the Australian Financial Review 2019 100 Women of Influence finalist. 

She actively promotes:
•    cultural agility programs based on truth telling and stories of strength
•    Trauma Aware and Healing Informed strategic engagement
•    women’s rights
•    meaningful education, skills development and business ownership.