In a national first, the Monash Business School and the William Cooper Institute have welcomed their first cohort for the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership.

Welcoming the cohort on May 1, the program follows Monash University’s long history of Indigenous engagement in tertiary education.

“We’re proud of this legacy, but we knew we could do more. We recognised many Indigenous leaders have had very limited opportunities to engage in formal education and business training,” said Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) and Head of the William Cooper Institute, Professor Jacinta Elston.

“We created the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership to cultivate the next generation of Indigenous business leaders to shape Australia’s public, private and community sectors.”

The launch, which took place at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus, saw influential members of the Victorian Aboriginal community, staff from both Monash Business School and the William Cooper Institute, and students of the course.

Boon Wurrung Elder and Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at the Monash Faculty of Art Design and Architecture (MADA), Dr Carolyn Briggs AM performed a Welcome to Country and her grandson Jaedon Williams conducted a smoking ceremony.

Aunty Carolyn Briggs at the Smoking Ceremony. Photo Supplied Monash.

The Business School’s Director of Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion Associate Professor Nick McGuigan welcomed the students.

“We welcome our first cohort of students, who themselves are fierce changemakers and I am personally excited to work and learn from all of you,” he said.

Dean and Head of Monash Business School Professor Simon Wilkie and Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal artist Dale Harding also addressed the cohort.

“My advice to this cohort is to find each other, support each other and lean on each other,” said Harding.

“Find the support networks across Monash that will help you achieve your goals. Then play … make the most of the time you have here, it is precious indeed.”

Gooreng Gooreng woman Katrina Johnson was instrumental in the course’s creation, and sits in the role of Course Design and Development within the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership.

Johnson describes the course as a “game-changer”.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always known we offer unique value to our country’s economy,” she said.

“Our generational, holistic and inclusive approach to generating wealth results in prosperity for everyone and channels wealth back into our communities and national resources.

“We have an all-Indigenous cohort studying an Indigenous-led and designed business leadership course. It’s a powerhouse combination that will contribute to transforming how we generate and share wealth in Australia.”

Fourteen students were welcomed to the course, taking on part-time study for two to three years to gain their post-graduate degree.

Some notable students included:

  • CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association, Karl Briscoe
  • Managing Director at Australian BlackCard, Mundanara Bayles
  • Cricket Australia’s First Nations and Social Inclusion Specialist, Courtney Hagen
  • Cox Inall Ridgeway’s Aboriginal Communications Consultant, Alice Currie
  • Director of Indigenous Recruitment at Ergon, Kyra Galante.

“It means we are ready to contribute to our communities to bring them into their new economy to take their rightful place to care for their families, land, spirituality and ancestral stories. That is true self-determination,” said Galante.

“To me this program means that I am in a safe place with Indigenous peers, reconciling my insights and values as an Aboriginal woman to enhance my business and leadership,” added Currie.

By Rachael Knowles