The Refinery TALKS First Enterprise

Updated: May 24



The Indigenous business sector is one of the fastest growing in Australia.


Founded on respect, structures and protocols that put people and culture first, there is much that non-Indigenous businesses can learn from First Australian enterprise, particularly when looking at models that create positive social impact.

Join us for The Refinery TALKS First Enterprise where Indigenous business leader Leesa Watego of Iscariot Media will facilitate a conversation with Helena Gulash Kabi Kabi Elder and Indigenous Arts and Cultural Management consultant, David Williams of Gilimbaa, and Mundanara Bayles of BlackCard to explore the principles and processes of First Nations enterprise.



What makes it unique?


What can be learned from First Australian practices and how can non-Indigenous business successfully collaborate with First Nations peoples?

Kabi Kabi Country is no exception with its outstanding line up of First Australian enterprises and the evening will be hosted at Beachtree Distillery Co, producers of native botanical spirits.


Meet the panel


LEESA WATEGO is the Managing Director of Iscariot Media, a Brisbane-based company that delivers creative, technology, and educational projects.


Leesa is committed to the growth of the Indigenous business sector. As President of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce she has represented the interests and advocated on behalf of the sector at a state and federal level. She was appointed a 2016 Advance Queensland Digital Champion and is appointed to the Queensland Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group. She was recently appointed to the Indigenous Advisory Committee of the Telstra Foundation.


Leesa has also played a key role in the creation of a number of community-based initiatives supporting the sector. In 2014, she founded what would later become known as Black Coffee. Black Coffee is a nationally run initiative that creates opportunities for Indigenous business owners and intenders to meet and connect. Black Coffee has been held in over 30 locations including remote and regional communities. Iscariot Media continues to nationally coordinate this program. In 2020, Black Coffee will expand into the Pacific Islands. In 2015 Leesa co-founded Indigenous Business Month, a community-driven annual event that spotlights the achievements of Indigenous business across Australia.


In 2019, Leesa was awarded the Griffith University Outstanding Entrepreneurial Alumnus of the Year and in 2020, she was appointed Associate Professor of Practice - Indigenous Business at QUT Business School.



HELENA GULASH is a Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) woman who brings strategic leadership experience from her extensive work in First Nations affairs, both within Government and Community.


Helena established, and is principal of, Helena Gulash Consulting, which provides Indigenous Arts and cultural management expertise. An active advocate for Indigenous community cultural development on the Sunshine Coast, Helena is passionate about the potential for the dynamic Indigenous Arts and cultural industry to stimulate positive change for First Nations peoples.



DAVID WILLIAMS is the Executive Director of Gilimbaa, a company he co-founded in 2008. Gilimbaa specialises in the development and execution of culturally appropriate communication strategy, artwork and branding for community organisations, state and federal governments, and corporate Australia.


As an Aboriginal business owner and cultural communicator, he has a passion for developing the Indigenous business sector in Australia. He has extensive experience working locally and internationally as a cultural performer, artist and educator, and he uses creativity as a way of engaging, sharing and promoting Aboriginal culture.


David has a long-term vision to empower Indigenous youth through practical examples of business ownership and the importance this has in a culturally dynamic landscape.


Over the nine-year lifespan of Gilimbaa, its client base has grown to include Qantas, Woolworths, Lendlease, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, Tourism Australia, Australian Human Rights Commission, KPMG, and Herbert Smith Freehills.


MUNDANARA BAYLES is the Managing Director and co-founder of the BlackCard Pty Ltd, which is a 100% Aboriginal owned business certified with Supply Nation. BlackCard is a specialist consultancy providing cultural capability training and consultancy services to enable peo


ple and organisations to work effectively with members of the Aboriginal community. BlackCard’s purpose is working with people, not for people, with the genius of Aboriginal Knowledge.


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


Mundanara has been recognised internationally for her teaching & learning skills as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) in the UK, and has formal qualifications in the disciplines of media, business, assessment and training. Mundanara is on several committees and boards, including but not limited to, the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Committee (committee reports to the Minister for Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games).



Grab your ticket/s here



The Refinery Talks is presented by The Refinery as a part of the 2022 creative business incubator program, an initiative of the Sunshine Coast Council, SunCentral & the MET, Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance, sponsored by Walker Corporation and delivered proudly in 2022 by IMPACT BOOM.


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