Movers & Shakers are powerful people. They create a vision, explain values and challenge the status. But change is the true power of movers & shakers, creating something new or changing ideas and the world around them, helping other people to see the world differently.
We’re introducing you to five of the visionary Movers & Shakers in the Welcome to Country community who generously share their words and values through incredible, innovative businesses.
Douglas Goebel is the co-founder of Native Oz Bush Foods and a proud Aboriginal man from the Mighty Bundjalung Nation of South East Queensland & Northern NSW and he has always had a passion and love for my culture, heritage and native bushtukka.
Douglas is an avid advocate for bushfoods and First Nations ownership and participation in the industry when talking about why he started Native Oz Bush Foods he says, “I wanted to increase Aboriginal participation with in the industry, to educate on bushfoods and our culture around it.” His business also gives Douglas “independence to be able to do a job I love and keep connected to culture through native foods.”
Aunty Pat Torres
Aunty Pat Torres is the owner and powerhouse behind native bush food business Mayi Harvest and Jarndu Ngaank Aboriginal Tours. She is related to several Kimberley Aboriginal language groups including Djugun, Yawuru, Karajarri, Ngumbarl/Jabirr-Jabirr, Nyul Nyul, Bard and she lives and works on Djugun, Ngumbarl and Jabirr-Jabirr Country. Aunty Pat explains she wanted to start her business so she could, “work with a culturally relevant business that supports health and well-being through native foods and protection of her traditional ecological knowledge whilst assisting in an Indigenous-led industry.”
She goes on to explain, “Her business enables [her] to be an independent and culturally relevant business which maintains connection to Country and supports the protection and celebration of our sovereign food knowledge and original Australian cuisine. And since being on the Welcome to Country marketplace, I have increased my sales and have experienced an increased exposure of my cultural products including my tours and other cultural experiences.”
Meet Larry Brandy and the owner of Larry Brandy Aboriginal storyteller business. “My mob is Wiradjuri. I was born and grew up in Condobolin, NSW. I now live in Canberra, on Ngunnawal Country, and a lot of my work in preschools is based there. I often travel to Wiradjuri Country for storytelling, festivals and markets.”
Larry has an inspiring story around why he started his business. “Years ago I worked at a land council and one of my tasks was to go out in the field with an Aboriginal Elder and archaeologists to identify Aboriginal sites. I learnt so much about my culture doing this. We would also go into schools and give presentations. Years later in another job I was asked to give a presentation to preschool teachers and was surprised when they said that preschools would love what I do. I then started doing market stalls to promote my storytelling and thought that it would be good to have some Wiradjuri products to sell. Thanks to the wonderful Wiradjuri Dictionary (by Uncle Stan Grant and Dr John Rudder) and a local Wiradjuri artist Kristie Peters and Wiradjuri photographer Otis Williams I was able to produce a few children’s books using Wiradjuri language. My latest book Wiradjuri Country was published by the National Library of Australia.”
When discussing his business Larry explains, “Having my own business is wonderful. I love what I do, working with young children as they learn more about Wiradjuri culture. I love seeing that young children are proud to be Aboriginal and many are learning their language. Teachers and children in schools and preschools are so keen to learn more which makes it a wonderful environment to work in.
He goes on to explain what being part of the Welcome to Country marketplace means to him. “Since appearing on the Welcome to Country marketplace I’ve had more orders for my products, especially my books. I’m surprised that people from all over Australia are interested in my books, even though they are based on my Wiradjuri culture. It’s wonderful that Welcome to Country regularly advertise their products as it gives me a lot of exposure. I’m not very good at marketing myself so this really helps raise my profile.”
Clothing the Gaps
Laura Thompson, a Gunditjmara woman, and Sarah Sheridan are the co-founders of the innovative social enterprise, Clothing the Gaps. Clothing the Gaps began as Spark Health, an Aboriginal lead health group that has now evolved into a fashion brand with a mission. Not only do Clothing the Gaps products help mob and allies to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, they directly contribute to eliminating the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and life expectancies.
For Laura and Sarah, offering “Jobs for Mob” is an important part of Clothing the Gaps’ aim. Sarah said, “Our employment pathways and programs are what we do here. We have an amazing team, 92% of our team are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds and we have a staffing group of 28 now.”
At it’s core, Clothing The Gaps empowers all Australians to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures through informed shopping that makes a difference. Sarah shared, “I want to see more of non-Indigenous Australia getting to feel connected to and supporting Aboriginal people and culture and history and being proud of that and walking alongside the Aboriginal communities everywhere they go… It’s not just a great tee, it’s a tee that has a call to action and a responsibility that comes with it as well.”
For Sarah and Laura, aligning with companies that share their values is important, from production to sales. Clothing the Gaps is proud to be the first Aboriginal business to receive Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation. Sarah said, “The other really lovely part is being able to be on another amazing platform that’s really authentic and genuine as well. We think really carefully about where we stock, we don’t stock with just anyone so for us it’s an alignment piece when we stock with somebody and we really love what Welcome to Country does.”
Meet Jasmine (Jaz) Corr, a Dharawal visual artist, visual arts teacher and Wayapa Wurrk practitioner living and working on Dharawal and Yuin countries.
Jaz implements her many talents through a collective range of programs that celebrate the power of First Nations cultures to support harmony and mindfulness. Jaz shared, “Due to a steady organic growth, my business has naturally expanded over the years facilitating workshops and programs to suit varied clients and companies. At the beginning we were offering tailored workshops to suit Wellbeing, NAIDOC, RAP, Staff Development programs and sharing our Womens Full Moon Gathering’s experience each month on Country. This expanded to the Waxing Moon Web Series, a monthly online course that is accessible and inclusive to all participants.”
Through her art centre, Jaz offers programs that highlight the values of “community and connection”, working with “many people from diverse backgrounds.” Jaz said, “Our programs are culturally sensitive and appropriate to share with Non-Indigenous and Indigenous people creating community and connection because; Ngoon dyalgala niya, ngoon bamarraadbanga ni (We embrace all of you; we open the door to all of you).”
Jaz shared that working with Welcome to Country has supported her business by expanding her audience and improving consistency. “Since appearing on the Welcome to Country Marketplace, we have a wider customer base and consistent sales, with a streamline online booking system…Working with the Welcome to Country team has given us the opportunity to increase our programs and services.”