Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program helps Lauren get creative with her art and photography business

05 September 2022

Lauren Turner's passion as a First Nations artist and photographer has been boosted by Arrow Energy's Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program' which is delivered by CQUniversity Australia.

Lauren' who belongs to the Yanyuwa people in Borroloola in the Northern Territory' owns and operates Lauren Turner Creative in the Brisbane region and joined the Whanu Binal program to enhance her business.

"After being a health and physical education teacher for the past 13 years' I felt it was time to put that career on hold and pursue my personal passions of Art and Photography'" she said.

"Growing up' I was that girl who always loved having a camera in her hand. Capturing those candid moments at special events and gatherings. The excitement and joy I experience sharing sentimental moments with others is what continues to be the driving force within.

"My other love is Aboriginal dot painting which helps to connect me with my First Nation ancestors. Creating contemporary art is my way of continuing to share stories and show appreciation for our oldest living culture in the world.

"Contemporary Aboriginal art and photography have been my hobbies outside of teaching for many years' which both have brought me great joy. Though' with having little knowledge around starting my own business' or knowing the right people to contact and connect with for help' the Whanu Binal program was the next step.

"Having the opportunity to join the Whanu Binal program' I knew it would help guide me on the right path by supporting me through the initial stages of my small business venture."

Whanu Binal offers First Nations entrepreneurs' executives' managers and Traditional Custodians a chance to build upon their business and entrepreneurial skills through a virtual yarning space' Indigenous learning styles' experienced mentors and the opportunity for networking with peers and business accelerator organisations.

Although the program partnership with CQUniversity launched in 2020' Arrow Energy has run Whanu Binal in various forms since 2013' with the goal of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and individual workers in its operational footprint.

The Whanu Binal program not only enables participants to access content anytime' anywhere on any device' but also to build a professional support network.

In collaboration with CQUniversity and Arrow Energy' closed social media pages enable mentoring to be approached in an innovative environment to cater to current travel restrictions.

Lauren said she is about 19 weeks into the program and is enjoying its easy-to-navigate structure.

"Our weekly zoom meetings consist of a new topic and guest presenter' discussing small business knowledge and experiences. The program covers topic areas from navigating social media marketing' leadership and management' vision and mission statements' intellectual property' mental health in business and finance'" she said.

"Alongside those wonderful weekly meetings' the program provided valuable online learning content where we could move through business modules at our own pace."

She said the Whanu Binal Program had specifically helped her business by creating a step-by-step guide to ensuring her small business could continue to thrive with the right knowledge.

"Being a participant in the program has not only built my confidence but also given me the right tools that I need to successfully continue developing on my brand and personal business portfolio'" she said.

"It's has been a wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with other First Nations peoples who are travelling through the same journey as me. It's always hard to start something new' but if you have the right support around you' it makes life so much easier.

"I would highly recommend any First Nations start up business owners to join the Whanu Binal program. The team and fellow participants have made me feel so welcomed and supported. Starting your own business can be very daunting and challenging at times' but with the knowledge I've gained' and the connections I've made throughout the program' I feel 10 times more confident in myself and where I can now elevate my business to."

Lauren Turner Creative provides portrait style photography for families' pets and their owners' engagements' maternity' and weddings. Lauren also creates paintings' designs digital images and paints large murals for clients.

CQUniversity and Arrow Energy also invite Indigenous alumni to apply to become program mentors. Those interested can visit the website or contact alumni-enquiries@cqu.edu.au .