While indigenous people make up 2.8 per cent of the Australian population, more than a third are experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace. In schools, while 5 per cent of students are indigenous, only 1 per cent of teachers identify as indigenous, leading to a lack of role models and indigenous mentors for the next generation.
Jaynaya Winmar founded Blakbone Sistahood in 2019 to support, empower and lead indigenous women. In this interview, she shares the story and drive behind Blakbone Sistahood, what she hopes to achieve with the business and community, and the importance of community engagement.
- What is Blakbone Sistahood?
Blakbone Sistahood is a specialised consultation business. We facilitate engagement opportunities for Indigenous Business with an emphasis on professional women within business. This can be through a number of different avenues such as facilitated networking events, brokered one on one consultations, specialised event management services and business engagement workshops.
- Why is this important?
I started the company as a result of not having the time or opportunities to network or attend workshops that were accessible or tailored to professional Indigenous women. I saw the need to give space to other women finding the same issues as myself with accessibility and servicing these specific needs in a comfortable and safe environment.
- What are your key goals and objectives?
Blakbone Sistahood has been set up to create a space where Indigenous women in business are given a voice, but more importantly they are given valuable support to grow their business. This can be through introductions to other like-minded women within similar industries or facilitated events to assist with navigating the social procurement policy framework.
- Why is community engagement important?
I specifically selected the name Blakbone Sistahood because strong women have been the backbone of my personal and professional development. I have been raised by a strong Indigenous woman and supported by a strong Indigenous grandmother who helped to raise me. I was educated from an early age to respect others and to behave with integrity in whatever I have done. In social and business circles I have a close network of female friends and family that make my backbone straighten with strength and conviction. It is with this support I was able to have the courage to start my own business and feel supported every step of the way.
- What specifically is unique or important about indigenous community engagement?
This network of women and men that support and engage with my business do so because they are able to see and engage with other Indigenous businesses. We can see success in many different formats within the business sector. We are now confidently sitting in boardrooms, engaging and contributing to the growth of the Australian economic trade growth both nationally and internationally.
- What passions drive you with managing Blakbone Sistahood?
Having a natural passion for people and an ability to make connections to people and business give me a sense of pride. Seeing businesses that can develop a strong mutually beneficial partnership excites me. This means that Indigenous women can see other women succeeding in male dominated environments and not getting stuck at the glass ceiling.
- What is your advice to indigenous and non-indigenous people about engagement with indigenous communities?
Like all business this needs to be done with respect and a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you are engaging with Indigenous communities, they need to be valued.
- What are corporate, governments, and Australians overall getting right and wrong about indigenous community engagement?
This is a great space to be in right now and I am loving linking with other amazing businesses in this space and people that are like minded assisting with this process. We are far from getting it fully right with the supported Indigenous Economic growth sector. But we are supporting the conversation of how this can be part of the everyday process of procurement engagements and other such engagements. We need to be including all of the community on this journey and not just one business constantly or a famous name for promotional purposes. We have a large cross section of Indigenous businesses and leaders now who are now being heard and supported. I lead by training those that work with me or for me with the thought in mind that I am training them to take my role in the future. We need to be creating a strong workforce that are able to confidently not just follow our paths, but to see the way and make their own path of personal and professional growth.
About the expert
Proud Noongar/Balladong woman from Quairading in the wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
Jaynaya has a strong background across the Employment and Recruitment sectors through partnerships throughout the Education and Employment across regional and remote areas within Western Australia and Victoria. Having previously worked within the recruitment industry specialising in disadvantaged cohorts across wider Australia under the employment services framework Jaynaya has been able to assist in identifying the gaps in engagement deliveries and having the ability to effectively articulate throughout the partnerships on how to actively develop these.
With this extensive experience Jaynaya has been consulting on Reconciliation Action Plan development and implementation across corporate national and international companies or sporting clubs and peak bodies within the sporting industry through all plan levels for Reflect through to Elevate status. As an extension on this Jaynaya also has consulted with the development of strategic Indigenous Procurement Policies and Indigenous Engagement Plans. This consul Jaynaya has been utilising these skills and natural abilities to strengthen and share this knowledge of the business bonds between Indigenous Businesses and the wider business landscape.
This has been key in being able to assist with the engagement of State and Federal government Social Procurement Frameworks and the National Procurement Strategies and having the ability to translate the transferable skills of each stakeholder.
Recently Jaynaya has started her own business and is operating on the model of being able to network effectively with key stakeholders and connecting them with each other in a respectful and beneficial way for all parties.