Gloria Malone, Fred Power and Melissa Mills attended the Indigenous Business Month dinner in October
Gloria Malone, Fred Power and Melissa Mills attended the Indigenous Business Month dinner in October

Indigenous woman’s extraordinary photography talent

IF YOU are looking for an authentically local gift for your loved ones this Christmas, why not consider any of the Indigenous products available in Central Queensland?

October was national Indigenous Business Month, an opportunity for the community to celebrate and engage with business owners from a First Nations backgrounds.

portrait by Melissa Mills
portrait by Melissa Mills

Gracemere-based photographer Melissa Mills was guest speaker at the dinner at Rocky Sports Club, alongside Paul Olsen who runs Brolga Cranes out of Gladstone.

“I remember my grandmother had a huge box of beautiful black and white images under her bed taken with the old Brownie box camera,” Ms Mills said.

“That’s where I learned about my identity, where I fitted with people who were part of my family but I’d never met.”

Ms Mills conducts retreats on country to nourish women’s spirit and reconnect them with their roots.

Her family is from the Garingbal Ghununglu people, and also the Bidgjara around Carnarvon Gorge which, she said, was a beautiful backdrop for her portraiture.

portrait by Melissa Mills
portrait by Melissa Mills

“Whether Aboriginal or not, the women I take out on country open their heart and I capture it in photos,” Ms Mills said.

“Giving the images to them is a gesture of respect, a way to say thank you.”

Darumbal woman Gloria Malone, who works in the field of procurement, said the Indigenous Business Month was not only an opportunity to profile Indigenous products, but to support the whole community in sharing knowledge.

“There are extra services out there, such as mentoring, which can help Indigenous people tackle the mainstream processes of accessing funding,” she said.

“It’s a two-way street: taking knowledge from each other to make ourselves better people.”

Ms Malone said Darumbal Enterprises was a prime example of proactive engagement between Indigenous leaders and the wider community, having formalised a land agreement regarding Shoalwater Bay.

portrait by Melissa Mills
portrait by Melissa Mills

“The money that it brings in, along with the Ring Road and Rookwood Weir, is a huge opportunity if only people can wrap their heads around the procurement policies and processes,” she said.

“We’re always going to have those on the side who are having a crack at us so we’ve got to stop that and break it all down.

“Indigenous Business Month is about walking the journey together.

“And if anybody’s holding an event in the region - a festival or a meeting - then it’s a good time to hire an Indigenous photographer to take your photos, or get Dave Dow from Short Black Coffee or the mob from Dreamtime to do your catering.”

See Melissa Mills’ extraordinary work at https://www.melissamillsportraiture.com.au/



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