28 September 2022
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are natural innovators exploring new ideas and breaking new ground in many aspects of life, science and history. They are the world’s first astronomers, bakers, scientists and agriculturalists and their ground breaking innovation continues today. First Nations people are constantly developing new and creative ideas to support, share and celebrate culture and community.
Browse five incredible ground breakers who work with Welcome to Country. All of their unique business ventures started with a single idea and blossomed into something incredible. From immersive experiences to clothing with a difference, all of these innovative brands have a clear social impact.
Kaley Nicholson the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Yilam has family lines that stretch across Victoria and into New South Wales including Taungurung, Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba, Barapa Barapa, Boonwurrung, Mutthi Mutthi and Wiradjuri. She currently lives on Wadawurrung Country in Geelong, and she runs Yilam Connecting to Country experiences on Taungurung Country in the central highland of Victoria.
When asked why she started Yilam Kaley explains “We noticed that there is a real lack of representation of Aboriginal People and culture in the camping industry. Sadly, Aboriginal systems of knowledge and philosophies of connecting to and caring for Country have largely been ignored. Recognising this gap in the market, the idea of Yilam was born.”
Having her own business has changed Kaley’s life “Starting my own business has honestly been the single most empowering decision of my life. It is so rewarding to see the results of my hard work and to see the impact we’ve been able to create already. The sky is the limit and I know that we have the power to create real opportunities for Mob, to drive change that leads to greater respect for First Nations People and Culture and invites more people into the responsibility of caring for Country.” she explains.
Dana Garlett is a proud Whadjuk, Nyikina, Minang, Ballardong woman of Western Australia who is the owner and artist behind Paperbark Prints When talking about her business Dana, “takes pride in her work and loves that I can share a piece of herself, her culture, and stories with others in a meaningful way.”
When talking about why she began Paperbark Prints Dana explains, “I was looking for a way to connect and reach out to friends and family and to use my passion for art. I chose to express this through greeting cards with each print telling its own story about the artwork and the beautiful message that it will hold for someone else. When I give gifts, I always look for the perfect card but struggled to find something that was truly Australian, something I could relate with and have meaning for the person that would be receiving it. So, I created Paperbark Prints to fill that gap and to spread joy, connection, and culture.”
She also shared what being part of Welcome to Country means to her, “I feel blessed to be part of the Welcome to Country marketplace and sharing the space with so many other amazing creatives. I love connecting with new people, building relationships and this marketplace is such a great opportunity to engage with more people and share Paperbark Prints.”
Bolo Angus is a Bardi-Jawi man from Western Australia’s Dampier Peninsula and the proud founder of Southern Cross Cultural Walk Lullumb. Through Bolo’s cultural walk, he invites all people to experience the hunting and gathering techniques passed down to him through generations.
Bolo’s vision is to keep culture alive while supporting his family by sharing his knowledge of Bardi-Jawi culture with emerging generations.In starting his business, Bolo was inspired by his Mum and Uncle to “Teach the rest of the world how important country is to us and how we look after it as caretakers.”
As a First Nations person, owning his own business empowers Bolo, his family, his culture and his community. “It means the world to me and I put everything I have into it. I am proud to be doing what I’m doing, it gives me the opportunity to look after our family like our Ancestors did before us. Also Inspire other members of our tribe and show them we can do anything we put our minds to.
For Bolo, working in the tourism industry allows him to share his knowledge while “bringing families and different cultures together”, furthering his love for meeting new people, teaching and sharing experiences.
Bush Medijina is a proudly Indigenous business with a clear social purpose. They combine traditional cultural knowledge and practices with modern skincare to create incredible products that directly improve outcomes for the Traditional Owners of the Groote Archipelago, the Anindilyakwa people.
Board Members Jasmine Hastings and Serena Bara explained that the beginnings of Bush Medijina arose from a need to support culture and community, with a focus on creating employment opportunities for women. “The idea of starting a business grew from the need to help our people, especially the elderly on Bickerton Island which is a small community of about ninety Indigenous people.”
Bush Medijina provides meaningful opportunities to women and communities on Groote Island. Jasmine and Serena shared, “Us ladies enjoy each other’s company. We support each other where needed, we give each other advice where needed and most of all we love making our Bush Medijina products. We are so proud that our products are being sold across Australia and around the world.”
Jasmine and Serena explained that Bush Medijina is guided by culture and community. “We know what is important to us in our lives and in our community and this guides us at work. We value being goods mothers, showing kindness to others, being loving and caring, being respectful, thoughtful and friendly. We want to live in a community where these values are shared by others and we also want people from other cultures to understand our culture better and know that we are good, honest people.”
For Jasmine and Serena, being part of the Welcome to Country family brings love and support to the Bush Medijina business.
Numbulwar Numburindi Arts
Numbulwar Numburindi Arts is a community run art centre on the Rose River in Victoria, dedicated to championing fibre art. Numbulwar Numburindi Arts Project Manager, Ella Doonan kindly shared with us the story and significance behind Numbulwar Numburindi Arts including the meaning of the organisation’s name; “Numbulwar is the name of the place, and Numburindi is the name for the people of this region.”
Ella explains, “Numbulwar Numburindi Arts is a shining example of self-determination. The community completely self-funded the establishment of the art centre driven from the need for a place for artists to work on their fibre art. The artists have been making traditional fibre art for many years, using a combination of harvested natural materials including pandanus, dyed using roots, berries and leaves from the surrounding area.” Numbulwar Numburindi Arts also promotes sustainability through their use of ghost nets, abandoned fishing nets which make up 30-50% of all ocean plastic. “The process of harvesting the ghost nets to use in fibre art is a modern act of caring for Country.”
Numbulwar Numbirindi Arts acts as an important source of autonomy for the Numbulwar Community. According to Ella, the centre “provides an independent income stream for artists where Country-based, culturally appropriate work opportunities are rare… It is an opportunity to maintain and develop traditional weaving practices for future generations, and to teach others about the rich history and culture of Numburindi people.”
The Numbulwar Numburindi Arts Weaving Kit provides an opportunity to engage with traditional cultural practices while “supporting intergenerational learning at the art centre.”