This year, 4 to 11 July marks NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week, an annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. While it’s a calendar event that acknowledges over 65,000 years of First Nations’ culture, it’s also a reminder that every Australian must continue to strive for greater protections of cultural heritage, Country and sacred sites.
In this series, we highlight some of the Indigenous-owned businesses in Xero’s community, and the work they’ve been doing to contribute to society and culture.
Corey Tutt, DeadlyScience
When Corey Tutt was 16 years old, he desperately wanted to become a zookeeper. But, like many kids from minority backgrounds often report, he was told by his high school careers advisor that it wouldn’t happen. So Corey decided to prove them wrong. He left school at 16 and went on to become a zookeeper, although his teacher’s discouragement sparked something bigger in him – a passion to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in under-resourced communities fulfil their own dreams. And that’s exactly what he’s doing today.
Corey is the Founder and CEO of DeadlyScience, a charity organisation that provides books, digital tools, resources and skills teaching to remote schools across Australia. He says, “It’s not just about proving to the kids that they can be scientists – that’s the easy part. It’s about convincing non-Indigenous people that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids can be more than just sports stars and artists (not that those aren’t great things). After all, we were the first scientists, and we still are.” This is what inspired Corey’s debut children’s book called The First Scientist, a soon to be released textbook on the rich history of First Nations scientific practices. “I’ve come full circle from sending books to writing them,” he explains.
What are some of DeadlyScience’s achievements that you’re most proud of?
Corey: Most Fridays, I’ll get a call from one of the foster care houses in Groote Eylandt that DeadlyScience has sent books to, and some of the kids will read to me over the phone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the Papa Penguin story read aloud, but I never get sick of it because the kids are so proud of their efforts. It makes me quite emotional.
I feel lucky to be able to share the work of DeadlyScience with so many people. Whether it’s providing books to schools that have been destroyed by floods or building science labs in remote communities, there’s so much to be proud of.
If you told the 16-year-old me that I would one day start a charity, write a book and become the 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year, I wouldn’t have believed you. To prove to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids that they can be all of these things and more? That’s pretty special.
Sharon Winsor, Indigiearth
For over 20 years, Sharon Winsor has been working in the bush food industry – a passion that stemmed from her childhood. “My love of the land and its native foods is what connects me to my Aboriginal heritage. Ever since I was young, I would spend a lot of time in nature, collecting
bush fruits and catching yabbies,” she explains. And it’s this knowledge that’s led Sharon to build a highly successful business, Indigiearth.
Sharon launched Indigiearth in 2012 to share native Australian products from desert to sea with homes and businesses around the world. Just last year, she expanded her offering to create a cafe and retail space in Mudgee, New South Wales. “It’s grown quite rapidly to the point where we’ve established a bush tucker Warakirri Dining Experience. It’s a way to connect with native foods, beverages, botanicals and most importantly, culture,” she says.
What are some of Indigiearth’s achievements that you’re most proud of?
Sharon: Many people don’t realise until they start having the right conversations that native ingredients have incredible storylines and connections to language, spirituality and Mother Earth. Take the wattleseed, for example; in its traditional form, it can last on the ground for 20 years and still be edible – there’s so much history in that. And it’s what Indigiearth’s Warakirri Dining Experience is all about; giving people the opportunity to learn stories through food. It’s these conversations that I’m most proud of because native products are such an important part of our culture and connection.
For more information on how to celebrate, head to the NAIDOC week website. To learn about and support more Indigenous-owned businesses, visit TradingBlak or the Supply Nation business directory.