Girls with dreams and women with vision: shared experiences at the Strong Women Strong Business conference

Girls with dreams and women with vision: shared experiences at the Strong Women Strong Business conference

Indigenous Affairs Economic Development Indigenous Business Sector Strategy
Friday, 11 May 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Delegates attending the Strong Women Strong Business welcome event

Adelaide recently hosted 180 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across Australia, taking part in the first Strong Women Strong Business conference.

From entrepreneurs in start-up phase to owners of established and growing businesses, the full spectrum of businesswomen from remote, regional and metropolitan areas attended the conference. Attendees shared experiences, provided mentorship and learnt about business best practice in a culturally relevant space.  

‘Networks are key,’ according to Terri Janke of Terri Janke Lawyers, who delivered the keynote speech at the Welcome Dinner. Her advice was a taste of the practical and honest advice that was to come over the next two days of the conference.

Kristal Kinsella of Indigenous Professional Services spoke on the panel Why our women are innovators. Kristal emphasised the importance of resilience and the need ‘to reinvent ourselves and always find a way to get things done.’

Themes of empowerment and the opportunities that business can provide were common throughout the discussions.

‘Girls with dreams grow up to be women with vision,’ said Jahna Cedar of the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation.

The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and demonstrated how valuable and useful the conference was on a number of levels.

‘I feel so honoured and blessed to have been a part of the Strong Women Strong Business conference…it has been such an amazing experience to be a part of this journey and to share this opportunity with at least 180 outstanding and phenomenal strong, black and deadly women,’ said conference attendee Priscilla Kelly.

The importance of culture was expressed throughout the conference, including from Dionne Connolly from Western Labour Hire who concluded that ‘there is the opportunity to be the master of your destiny without sacrificing your authentic cultural self.’

The conference saw many new relationships forged that may well lead to business collaborations and joint ventures in the coming months and years. Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) also linked up several mentor/mentee relationships during the conference.

‘My first thought when I left yesterday was how fantastic it was to see our young ones there…we yarned and laughed but deep inside I just felt proud of them as beautiful, talented and respectful young First Nation business women,’ said conference attendee Sandra King.

In addition to the Indigenous businesswomen featured during the conference, representatives from the Commonwealth, Northern Territory and South Australian governments, as well as IBA gave a practical overview of the policies, programs and services available to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesswomen and aspiring entrepreneurs.

‘There was great energy in the room, with a real feeling that the sector is growing and there are real opportunities out there for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,’ said Klarissa Nguyen, who represented the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at the conference.

A reflection from conference attendee, Christine Ross, echoes the thoughts of many other women who attended the conference. ‘We leave the Conference stronger, prouder, inspired, motivated and more knowledgeable. Thank you to all the amazing sisters who spoke and shared their stories. The fantastic networking and supportive sisterhood will stay with us forever.’

The Strong Women Strong Business conference was convened by Indigenous Business Australia and funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Find out more on Strong Women Strong Business.