Rockhampton First Nations Business Program off to a Successful Start

Published on 31 August 2021

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Rockhampton Regional Council through their economic development arm, Advance Rockhampton, recently partnered with CQUniversity to launch a bespoke business and entrepreneurship training program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The program aims to foster business confidence by providing business fundamentals to Indigenous owners, both existing and potential.  

The program was launched at a stakeholder engagement and feedback session with around 30 stakeholders in attendance at CQUniversity last month.

Rockhampton Region Mayor Tony Williams said Council is pleased to work with CQUniversity to deliver this purpose-built program.

“The Rockhampton Region has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, making up 7.4% of the region’s population compared to Queensland’s 4%,” Mayor Williams said.

“With an increasing Indigenous population, the Rockhampton Region has emerged as a centre with a growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses from other parts of Australia have shifted to Rockhampton to become involved in the Region’s major projects, such as the expansion of Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, the development of Carmichael Mine and Rail Line and the construction of Rookwood Weir.

“This program is a fantastic asset for not only our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, but the Rockhampton Region and the wider Central Queensland area.”

Executive Manager of Advance Rockhampton, Mr Greg Bowden, said the fast take up and positive feedback from participants to date demonstrates there is a genuine need for this program.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector is one of the fastest growing in Australia and we need to support this growth to ensure Indigenous owned businesses remain viable and successful,” Mr Bowden said.

“Advance Rockhampton is focused upon ensuring existing businesses thrive and new businesses have the opportunity to become part of Central Queensland as one of the growing regions in Australia.

“The implementation of this Indigenous Business Program lays a good foundation for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become actively involved in business in Central Queensland.”

Professor Kate Ames, Director of Learning Design and Innovation at CQUniversity is thrilled at the take up of this pilot program. 

“We had a target of 15 people to increase Indigenous business capacity in the Rockhampton Region and our Project Consultant Desanya Stanley from Destiny Designed has successfully recruited 15 participants,” Professor Ames said.

“Some participants are prospective business operators, while others are already operating or working in businesses and wanting to expand their skill base.

“Currently the training is being delivered to participants as a non-accredited course, however CQUniversity has now commenced the process for formal course accreditation with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

“If approved, successful participants would be awarded a Certificate IV Indigenous Business and Entrepreneurship at the end of the course, which is recognised as a formal Australian education qualification.

“This would also provide participants who wish to progress their education with a supported pathway into a diploma or bachelor’s degree.”