Individual and Economic Empowerment: The Key to Legacy

The importance of economic development as a base from which to build the strength and growth of the Indigenous people is of paramount and supreme importance. As history has shown us, the rise of great states, nations and people is built on the back of several key factors. These include cultural identity, strict code of law and conduct, military prowess and of course, for what will be discussed in this article, ideas and an economic base and prosperity. Economic development is the key for the development, empowerment and rise of the Indigenous people of this nation. With an economic base, we are able to build, create and nurture an environment from which we can forge our own destiny not reliant on the intervention of outside and foreign power, but rather a self sufficient system of internal power.

This is not to say we cannot work with others, trade with others or to say we will shut ourselves away. No, but rather we can sit as equals among others and dictate terms on our level rather than having these terms dictated to us, as is all too prevalent in this day and age. Like any power base, we must look to the economics as the fire from which will fuel our furnace and this economic development can begin with the investment in our youth, education and our ideas.

Ideas and knowledge as a base from which to build our economy is of paramount importance and can come in many forms. At present, the idea has been pushed onto us that the sport is indeed our salvation. We hold up our sporting icons as heroes, as the pinnacle of Aboriginal achievement, and while indeed we should take nothing away from these men and women who have risen above and beyond, they are but the tip of the iceberg in what we can accomplish as a people. While sport is fantastic in its ability to produce greatness, resilience and fortitude (great things can come from athletic pursuits), our communities should not only be producing athletes as our role models and who we see on our TV’s and in our news feeds every day, but holding up science, mathematics, literature and linguistics, art and civics (to name but a few) as our pursuits.

Our role models and cultural identity must be formed around the strength that these men and women exhibit and show as well. We have already conquered the pursuit of sport, we are some of the most naturally gifted athletes in the world – a fact we can truly be proud of – but now it is time to turn our attention to other endeavours as well. In our pursuit of economic power, we must begin to hold up these new pursuits and new heroes in these fields. After all, it is science, mathematics and civics which will truly leave a mark not only on ourselves and nation but on the rest of humanity. These men and women who dedicated themselves to these fields must be given recognition and risen up as role models for our youth. The ideas that they can exhibit will lead us towards the path of economic prosperity, which in turn will lead us to becoming a equal player, with equal respect at the table of domestic and international power.

International powers around the world have built themselves into the positions they are in today because they are willing to stand together unified (a feat we still have not yet truly accomplished) and invest in themselves and ideas. As they have built their economies, prosperity has come to them as they build their own empires and states. We can learn from these examples. We can begin to look at investment in each other’s ideas, each others education and by each of us as individuals taking responsibility for the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities, whether we live in the outback or in the urban sprawl, we all have a responsibility and role to play in the empowerment and rise of our people.

As the world has provided the blue print for our success, it is time to look at our economic base, our ideas and our position within this society and ask ourselves, are we content with the mediocrity that has been handed to us? Our people were never destined for such a fate. With major socio-economic issues facing our people, it is all too apparent that the government does not care for our toils. We need not rely on them (as some of us seem to think we do), we need build ourselves up to the power house I know we have in us to be. However, the road to the top is fraught with hardship and peril and indeed we must be willing to do what is necessary to create our own pathways and legacy.

Economics is the path we must look to. For in this world, power is built on the back of economics, and to truly be respected as equal we must have the gold to make the rules. Today we are given the crumbs from the tables of major developments. Tokenistic gestures as a way of saying we have done our part from you. We do not need nor want this charity. We negotiate as equal. Equal right, equal say, equal opportunity. We do not need the hand out but rather the hand up! The day we can negotiate in our own country as equals over the rights and royalties to land development will be a momentous day indeed.

However, the fight does not stop there, as we must look to ourselves and ensure all people have access to this opportunity. Too many family dynasties in this country have pushed themselves forward while leaving their brothers and sisters in the gutters. As one of us bleeds, so do the rest. However, it is always important to remember that being Aboriginal is as much a mentality as it is a birthright. For those who only take in our culture and give nothing back to the collective, they would be traditionally exiled, or worse, and unfortunately today far too many take and far too few give for the betterment of the collective. If we are to build an economy, we must subscribe to the mentality that we are to build our communities up, not just our families (Corruption is a sickness we must weed out and destroy but this is perhaps another story for another time).

The power we hold culturally is truly significant, however, as we have seen for too long, it is subject to abuse and exploitation by external entities. As we take back what is truly ours, beginning with our identity, we can begin to build our base. Our economic base will supply and fund our projects, our developments, our cultural undertakings, our education and our legacy. Our ideas are the key to unlocking this potential, whether it is through land utilisation, academic knowledge, startups and business or investment (to name but a few again) we must diversify and expand economic influence into a number of differing opportunities which lay in our world today.

The world has become a smaller place with the introduction of new technologies and innovations – we can indeed capitalise on this reality and bring about our local knowledge and ideas into the international arena. The day we begin as a people to once again go back to the strength of our strict laws, our culture which has been disrespected and trampled on, and find the respect within ourselves to say “enough is enough”, we can build our own legacy. Not built upon the back of others but on our own terms and accord. This all begins with the building of our own economy and belief in who we are and what we can do. Change starts with us!

Jesse T Martin

The Streets Movement Organisation
www.thestreetsmovement.orgThe Streets Movement Organisation

Michael McLeod Talks With ABC About Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Listen to Michael McLeod talk about Indigenous entrepreneurship and Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael is a Ngarrindjeri Monaro man from Southern NSW, who is a judge and Keynote speaker at Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael’s business is called Message Stick, which is a unique business in that it is owned by Aboriginal Australians. The company was started in 2003 to show that Aboriginal Australians can own and manage a services business that engages with large corporations and Government agencies. The business does not seek any sponsorship, donations or social grants whatsoever. They seek only the opportunity to prove themselves and to be treated as worthy business partners.

Michael’s future is aimed at advocating the need for Australian society (particularly the private sector and our Governments) to embrace, and support, the challenge Indigenous people face when his people begin the journey towards economic independence.

His Message Stick business model is aimed at proving that Indigenous and non-indigenous people can work together to achieve generic economic results – yet still fully support, and participate in, community growth.

Why You Can’t Miss FinTech Startup Weekend

FinTech is shaping the way that consumers and financial institutions are interacting and it’s a permanent shift. It’s a move from closed to open, from centralized to distributed, and from ‘in a few days’ to now. What’s more, is that there’s an engaged community of people waiting to share, collaborate and create with you.

When Adrian and I launched NextBank Brisbane (aka Next Money) we weren’t sure how strong the FinTech community would be. After a few months, we had over 200 people in our meet up, and our second event showcased a number of awesome Queensland based FinTechs and had a turnout of around 100 people.

But why get involved?

I’m an interested individual

If you’re passionate about finance and/or technology, then getting involved in a FinTech community is a great way to remain relevant, hear about what’s going on at the forefront of the industry and chat to like-minded people. Don’t limit your potential by working in your own thought bubble. Have you ever been to a great conference where you are challenged with new ideas and are removed enough from your typical working environment to think a little more clearly? It’s like that.

I’m an investor

A community like Next Bank is a sideline seat to the game. You will get closer to people, ideas, discussions and get to follow new businesses from the early stage. Our Queensland community is well represented from angel, PE and VC investors.

I’m an employer

For many employers, geography is important, which is why getting involved in a local FinTech community is key. The proposition is simple, you have a room of people giving up their free time to contribute to the future of finance. Finance professionals are among the most educated groups in Australia and when thinking of technology, they tend to be the ones pushing the envelope.

I represent an incumbent

Incumbent sounds like a bad word, but it’s not. The incumbents in the industry arguably have the most to gain. Sure, they fit into the employer basket too and can use FinTech communities to poach the best and brightest, but getting involves also unlocks new strategic opportunities, challenges group think and (worst case) gives you an inside view of the potential industry disruptions on the horizon.

How do I get involved?

If you’re in Queensland, just head to If you’re in another state, then have a poke around or do a little googling… there won’t be one too far away.

Why Startup Weekend?

For any budding entrepreneurs, Startup Weekends are a great way to hone your rapid fire problem solving skills and learn something new. Teams work cross functionally making it a dynamic, interactive and creative environment, which makes it an experience that structured learning just simply can’t replicate. Participants learn by doing and have the opportunity to push their skills into whichever direction they wish. For me, it was my first startup weekend (quite a few years ago) that forced me to build a social platform, and with the help of other team members and mentors, I came out with not just a knowledge base but real experience that I have been able to deploy in other projects since.

FinTech Startup Weekend Brisbane is running from the 8th -10th of July, so don’t miss out. Details and tickets here.


After the Show Was Over- Some Facts & Videos From the Weekend

The 2016 Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane was another awesome event.

Videos were produced for the event that celebrated team journeys through the weekend for teams SIDLET (baby sleep pattern diagnostics), Mind your Mob (Assisting in Mental Health for Indigenous Australians), Working Mouse (a corporate team using the Weekend for employee training purposes) as well as interviews with participants, facilitators and mentors.

Check them out at  Youtube Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane Playlist

176 Tickets were sold inclusive of participants, organisers, volunteers, mentors, sponsor ticket and attendees for Friday and Sunday night pitching. 78 people participated as part of the Startup teams.

Participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including clinicians, researchers, students, non-technical and entrepreneurs. Most had NOT been to a startup weekend before and this was a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand the power of collaboration that comes with the Startup Weekend format.


ON the Friday, there were 33 idea pitches resulting in 12 teams being formed.

Pitch List

Most teams remained together throughout the weekend with a few adjustments.

The 12 teams pitched their new businesses on Friday night to an audience of approximately 130 people.

Final Pitches

Congratulations to the winners from the weekend, including:

  • Overall winner – Nom Nom Snap  – An app to derive nutrition information from photos of food.
  • Most innovative business – Sidlet – Infant Sleep Patterns
  • Most validated initiative – Mind Your Mob – indigenous Mental Health


We had some awesome sponsorship support. Many, many thanks to:

Sponsors T Shirt

Thanks to the 20 mentors who provided their free time to assist in the event. We bow down to your wisdom and support!


Many thanks to our judges Dr. Chris Zapalla (President of AMA Queensland), Mr. Steven Dahl (CEO, Smart Clinics), Dr. Judy Halliday (UniQuest) and Dr. Clarence Tan (Singularity University).

Judges judging


We raised some money as well – Four organisers / mentors also raised money for Leukaemia research at the event by participating in the World’s Greatest Shave initiative and shaving their heads on the Sunday, raising $4,500.

A Group Shave

Thanks to all the participants, mentors, organisers and sponsors for your brilliant support of this event!!

Bernie Woodcroft, Lead Organiser

Day 2: Sustainability Startup Ideas

It’s been an incredible start and journey over this weekend’s Startup Weekend Sustainability.  Here are the demo teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Sustainability (6-8 May 2016).  Come and join us for the Sunday night judging from 5pm! Tickets are only $5.  And thanks kindly to the support team at Property Shell for helping out with today’s power up session!  Here is the demo list…


Swagga – promoting and selling sustainable products and materials to businesses and the public without the compromise of cost and or quality.

Ezy Peazy – did you know you can’t recycle a milk bottle cap but can recycle a milk bottle?  When you have no idea what to recycle and what to throw away – an app to educate and help guide what you should throw away and what you should recycle.

Madcap – solving the issue of profitability versus passion for businesses in early startup stages.

Nature Meditation – a guided meditation app focusing on natural places like the great barrier reef and how a socially good business can be profitable and make a difference to sustainability and humanity.

Toothbrush Group – creating sustainable toothbrushes throughout the world!

Land Invaders – bringing education through a space invader style game!

Recycled Food Van – assessing the huge food wastage problem across our society and finding sustainable ways to address this issue.

Sustainable Health – an application assessing and managing one’s mental health and individual ‘life sustainability’.

HowCanIHelp – providing an access for people who want to make a difference to the environment or social good but with no idea where to go – a connection platform of organisations to individuals.

What’s my impact? – a simplified app to measure what your individual environmental impact is on the world today!

Rough Sawn – identifying ways to solve many of the social issues facing our society today.

Award-winning Mackay entrepreneurs join Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast

We’re so excited to welcome some of regional Queensland’s brightest entrepreneurial talent to Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 this Friday night.  

A group of startup enthusiasts from Mackay will join more than 70 local designers, developers and businesspeople for the three-day event, to be held at Spark Bureau in Maroochydore.

The group, which will also attend Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation and Investment Summit in Brisbane on April 27-29, includes a previous winner of Startup Weekend Mackay, a previous winner of Startup Weekend Cairns and the second place, third place and People’s Choice recipients from Startup Weekend Townsville.

Jarryd Townson, who is a coach and mentor at Startup Weekend Mackay, said attending Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast would provide a valuable opportunity to forge new connections across regional Queensland’s entrepreneurial ecosystems.

We’ve got a very strong startup community in Mackay, and people are always willing to travel to compete in these kinds of events, as it allows us to see what people are doing in other regions,” he said.

“It’s also a good chance to hone our own skills. For me, it’s about looking at how I can be a better mentor and improve what we have on offer in Mackay.”

Jarryd, who is the founder of the forthcoming Split Spaces coworking space in Mackay, is also a former University of the Sunshine Coast student.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast organiser Retha Scheepers said the Mackay contingent would add valuable energy and experience to the local event.

“Startup Weekend is all about collaboration and learning, so we are excited to welcome seasoned participants from other parts of Queensland to share their ideas, passion and skills,” she said.

“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast has the highest proportion of students of any regional event in Queensland and having the opportunity to work alongside people who are committed to building entrepreneurial communities is a great learning experience for everyone involved.”

One of the aims of our event is to show aspiring entrepreneurs that it’s possible to succeed in regional Australia.

“For many founders, the key to building a successful startup is not geographical location anymore, but the quality of connections and support around you,” Retha said.

“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast showcases the enthusiasm, talent and passion within regional Queensland, and we’re excited to welcome some of Mackay’s leading entrepreneurs to the Coast.”

Tickets are still available for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast. To register click here.

Developers: what’s in it for you?

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast brings together entrepreneurs, designers and developers for 54 hours of fun. The format emphasises fast, efficient product development – so if you can code, you’ll be a valuable addition to almost any team. But what’s in it for you? 

We’ve spoken to some former participants to discover the key takeaways for programmers and developers.

Build something in one weekend
If you’re a student, a parent or have a day job, it can be tough to find time to work on side projects. At Startup Weekend, you can devote an entire weekend to developing and building something new. Whether you pitch your own idea or join someone else’s team, you have 54 hours to make something happen – which is an efficient way to showcase your technical skills and develop your portfolio.

Learn Lean Startup
At Startup Weekend you’ll use the principles of Lean Startup Methodology to develop and refine your business model. It’s a framework that’s best learnt by doing, and the weekend provides the perfect opportunity to get your hands dirty. Whether you’re new to the startup space or a seasoned entrepreneur, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how to grow (and pivot) a startup, and the tools you’ll need to do it again in the future. 

Make new connections
Former participants will tell you that one of the best things about Startup Weekend is the people you meet. From fellow participants through to mentors and judges, you’ll be surrounded by likeminded people who are as passionate about tech, design and usability as you are. Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast brings the local entrepreneurial ecosystem together, so it’s a great place to network, meet potential cofounders or just make new friends.

Challenge yourself
The Startup Weekend format involves long hours, tight deadlines and plenty of teamwork. It’s a great opportunity to develop your technical skills – from traditional programming to UX and rapid prototyping – in a supportive environment. Here, failure isn’t frowned upon: it’s considered a crucial part of the process.

Broaden your skill set
Tech skills are important, but to succeed at Startup Weekend you’ll also need business, design, sales and marketing know-how. That’s where your team comes in. Building a multidisciplinary team gives you the best possible chance of success, but it also means you get to work alongside people with vastly different skill sets to yours. It’s a great way to get some hands-on understanding of how all these elements interact to deliver a final product. 

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 is on April 29 to May 1. To register as a developer click here

The Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast experience

Former University of the Sunshine Coast student Jessie Lee pitched the winning idea at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015. Here, she shares her reflections on the weekend that was.

“Wow, what a weekend! So many emotions are rolled into the space of 54 hours. From meeting likeminded people to gaining inspiration from successful entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend gives you both of these and more.

“For me, Startup Weekend was a learning experience. As a journalism student I was there to learn about businesses and technology. My idea was based on a traditional software system, but needed to use today’s technology to keep up with the times – something I had no clue about and therefore no idea where to start.

“We weren’t voted into the top group in the beginning and had to form our own team. Thankfully two of my classmates had worked in the industry I pitched and wanted to help out. A team of three, with some great help along the way, is all you need to get an idea rolling.

“Honest feedback is what you get over the weekend. Some people believe in your idea, others don’t, but the inspiration you see reflected in your mentors’ eyes keeps you going and wanting to know more. The best thing is I’ve made some friends along the way who have freely given a lot of advice over the year.

“My advice for someone who has an idea is to pitch it. At least for the feedback you’ll receive. Of course, even if you decide not to pitch, joining a team and learning as much as possible is what Startup Weekend is all about.

“Everyone is there to help someone achieve their dreams, so why not use this weekend to learn some skills on how to make your dreams a reality too?”

To register for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016 click here.

— By Jessie Lee

Startup Weekend: Judging criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally)

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

CM CRC supporting Startup Weekend Health Brisbane and making big data work for health

CM CRC Callout
Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane

CM CRC supporting the Startup Weekend Health Brisbane and why big data is important in health.  Click here.

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