Business bulletin - 19 October 2017


Victor Cooper of Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu with tourists in Kakadu
Victor Cooper with happy clients ... customer service is everything to him.

Victor Cooper knows that it can be tough making it in business.

But he has succeeded by following two simple principles - paying lavish attention to customer service and not being afraid to ask for help.

Victor owns Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu, which celebrates its 10th year in November.

Ayal, which is the name of a Dreamtime story about the Milky Way, runs a range of tours in the heritage-listed national park from May to October.

“Business is going very well,” said Victor. “My clients come from overseas or interstate. They are very interested in Indigenous culture and seeing Kakadu.

“I just want them all to be very happy with my tours. Customer satisfaction is everything.”

Victor has worked with the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation since the beginning and has participated in the Aboriginal Business Development Program.

He said he had benefited enormously from the help.

The Aboriginal Business Development Program assists Indigenous entrepreneurs start or expand their business, they also receive one-on-one support from a small business champion.

Victor encourages other Aboriginal people to get involved in business and will be attending the Indigenous Economic Development Forum at the Darwin Convention Centre on 23 and 24 October.

He is planning for the day he retires.

Two of his six children, Savana and Alice, show a lot of business talent and want to take over Ayal.

“They would do a very good job.”

Victor is a traditional owner and former park ranger.

He enjoys sharing stories about the spectacular Kakadu rock art and his knowledge of bush tucker and the floodplain country on his small group tours.

Victor was one of four Aboriginal people recruited as trainee rangers when Kakadu was declared a national park in 1979.

He was awarded an Australian Parks Service Medallion for outstanding service before leaving the Australian Government in 2007 and going out on his own.

For more information on how to start, run or grow your business please contact the small business champions team on 08 8999 5479.

Practical Safety Australia (PSA) staff viewing their merchandise

Darwin based business, Practical Safety Australia (PSA) has boosted its employment by 40% on the back of a new three year supply contract.

The Aboriginal owned business has been engaged by the Roper Gulf Regional Council to supply personal protective and first aid equipment and safety signage until 2020.

Securing the tender has allowed PSA an opportunity to employ two Indigenous trainees.

Director Lance Martin said, “We are excited that we have the opportunity to make a real difference to young people’s lives, and to have them as part of our continual growth and improvement program.”

“It is critical for Northern Territory companies to receive the support of both local companies and those companies that come to the various regions to fill gaps in skill shortages for the larger contracts,” he said.

“The simple reason for this is that it enables the growth of the Indigenous workforce and begins the upward cycle of creating higher-skilled Indigenous workers who can then pass on their knowledge to their peers, thus developing a pool of skilled individuals.”

Staff from the Roper Gulf Regional Council’s Procurement and Work, Health and Safety units travelled to Darwin last month to meet the PSA team and witness first-hand how the commercial partnership would benefit both parties.

Council Chief Executive Officer Michael Berto said an emphasis on utilising local Northern Territory businesses aligned with the organisation’s strategic goal of supporting training, employment and economic development.

“It may not be viewed as a traditional role of local government, but council is committed to the big picture of delivering sustainable, vibrant communities across the Roper Gulf region and NT as a whole,” he said.

“Part of that centres on providing Indigenous employment opportunities and fostering economic development strategies for businesses based in the Territory,” he said.

Troyston Corbett and Kerrin Butterworth, Tennant Creek High School students
Photo: Candice Belbin. L-R: Tennant Creek High School students Troyston Corbett and Kerrin Butterworth.

A dedicated education centre aimed at engaging remote and regional students in alternative educational programs has opened in Tennant Creek.

The Juno Centre focuses on engaging young people in schooling and keeping them involved by integrating art, sport, music, health and learning on country as well as vocational education and training (VET) programs.

The programs and support offered at the Juno Centre will enable students in the Barkly region to transition back into their schools to continue with their learning, or progress into further training or to a job.

There is a strong focus on working with communities and industry to provide the right programs, which include both accredited and non-accredited training.

Tennant Creek High School student Troyston Corbett is studying a Certificate in Agriculture and participating in the Pastoral Futures Program at Juno.

“I want to use the skills that I’m learning right now, I want to get a job. It’s important for me to learn stuff that will help me get a job when I finish school,” he said.

“I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather and how he used to break horses in, working on cattle stations and working with the animals. I’m following in his footsteps and he’s the person that I’ll always look up to.”

The Juno Centre aligns with the Pastoral Futures program, which is designed to provide pathways into the agricultural industry. The Pastoral Futures program partners with the Central Land Council, Northern Land Council, Indigenous Land Corporation, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

Juno will be fully operational from term one 2018, delivering residential and in-reach programs for years seven to 12 students in the Barkly region.

Abbie Northwood
Small Business Champion Abbie Northwood

Abbie Northwood has swapped the wilds of the Amazon jungle for the wild beauty of Arnhem Land to pursue her passion, empowering small businesses.

Abbie is one of the Northern Territory Government’s Small Business Champions, a band of dedicated public servants who help entrepreneurs survive and thrive in the world of commerce.

“Small business can give people, especially those living in remote communities, a way out of poverty.

“Succeeding in business not only provides employment, it increases self-esteem.”

Abbie covers West Arnhem Land, which stretches for nearly 50,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Holland, and includes Kakadu National Park.

She visits Jabiru, Gunbalanya and Maningrida once a month, and keeps in regular contact with all of the other communities and outstations.

Abbie sat a business degree at La Trobe University in Melbourne and is now doing her masters.

She worked with Quechua Indians in the Amazon in Ecuador, a life-changing experience that drove home how business can be used to improve people’s quality of life while protecting culture and the environment.

Abbie has also carried out postgraduate studies with the United Nations on how business can alleviate poverty; the course included studying for two months in Washington.

She said her work with the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation is much more than a job.

“I’m passionate about using business as a tool for development - to help people live the way they want to live.”

Abbie and the other Small Business Champions don’t give business advice. Instead, they point entrepreneurs in the direction of where they can get help from the Northern Territory and Australian governments.

That help can be anything from working with other government departments and associations, to workshops, grants and consultancy services who customise their service to meet the needs of the client.

Abbie worked in Katherine for 18 months before taking on the West Arnhem role just over two years ago.

If you would like to discuss ways to improve the profitability, sustainability or capability of your business call our small business champions team on 08 8999 5479.

2017 Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth

A think tank for young professionals is helping strengthen Australia’s all-important relationship with Indonesia.

Causindy, the Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth, brings people together to discuss important issues, and to listen to ideas and perspectives from both countries.

The organisation, which is supported by the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, held its annual conference in Melbourne last week.

NT delegate Nathan Franklin, who teaches Indonesian at Charles Darwin University and is coordinator and resident director of the Kupang and Lombok in-country language programs, said the 'pool of talent' in Causindy was diverse and included academics, educators, university students, journalists, lawyers, business people and public servants.

“The conference allows individuals to work together to forge new ways to facilitate people-to-people, business-to-business and government-to-government relationships,” he said.

“Deepening knowledge of Indonesia within Australia as well as knowledge about Australia within Indonesia will, among other things, help two-way trade and investment.

“A misinformed or uninformed private sector has led to many missed opportunities, which have denied both countries income and jobs.

“Healthy economic partnerships will self-generate innovation and collaboration in other areas of the bilateral relationship.

“Causindy is an opportunity to discuss these issues and provide recommendations and solutions as a way to move forward.”

Causindy, which was founded in 2012, coordinates an extensive network of alumni, produces a fortnightly bilingual podcast on events in the bilateral relationship, and provides resources for school and university teachers to highlight opportunities in both countries.

Territorians interested in getting involved in Causindy next year should go to

Indigenous Business Trade Fair, 2.30pm - 4.30pm, Tuesday 24 October 2017, Darwin Convention Centre

Last updated: 10 July 2019

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