Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program helps Joe and Lucy shoot for the sky with their Maiala Park Lodge business

19 August 2022

Joe and Lucy Thompson and their six-year-old daughter Ava' have literally moved mountains to start a new life and new business.

They have done so with the support of Arrow Energy's Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program' which is delivered by CQUniversity Australia.

Joe' a proud Iningai and Wakka Wakka man' has been operating the Maiala Park Lodge homestead with Lucy at Mount Glorious' just outside Brisbane since 2021' after deciding they needed a new challenge in their lives.

"Maiala Park Lodge began mostly by chance and timing'" Joe said.

"We were both unhappy with our previous employment and were looking for something that provided a lifestyle change for our family.

"The advertisement for the property randomly appeared on our social feeds and subsequently began our dream of running away to the mountain' and being our own bosses. After falling in love with the property and dreaming some more' we decided to give it a go' with the answer to most of our questions being - why not?"

Joe said he and Lucy became aware of the Whanu Binal Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program when they were looking to enhance their business experience.

"When setting up Maiala Park Lodge we realised that although we have leadership and project management experience' neither of us had managed a business'" he said.

"The Whanu Binal program was a chance to network' develop our business and consolidate some of our existing skill sets."

Since joining the program in April this year' Joe said he was impressed by its flexible delivery.

"The structure of the program has provided the flexibility to fit it in around our current schedule. The nature of our business means that our workloads can be very reactive' so finding a program that was flexible was very important to us'" he said.

"So far we've learned how to generate ideas and the importance of business planning' writing funding grants and marketing and branding."

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.

"I would highly recommend the program for other business owners as a form of inspiration' learning and networking'" Joe said.

"We need more role models and leaders in our communities and providing Indigenous-owned and operated businesses goes a long way to showing the younger generations what is possible. You can't be what you can't see."

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

For more information about Maiala Park Lodge visit https://www.maialaparklodge.com.au/ .