First Nations mentors to support creative business

First Nations mentors to support creative business

First Nations creatives who are looking to start a new business or grow an existing one can, for the first time, take part in three mob only sessions in addition to the core 10-week Refinery program as part of a new First Nations led series.

Sunshine Coast Council Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said Council was a major investor in The Refinery and nominated program partner, Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance, the region’s peak arts body, to deliver the main program.

“We’re now concentrating on adding even more value to the already successful program with a dedicated First Nations Led stream,” Cr Baberowski said.

“Our Creative Development team identified an opportunity to better support First Nations Refinery participants and encourage more applicants.

“As a result, we’ve added another five placements to the program, which will be allocated to First Nations creatives with successful participants taking part in both the main program as well as a dedicated First Nations led series.

“The series will be curated and facilitated by leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors and creatives and delivered by council.”  

Sunshine Coast Council’s First Nations Creative Development officer Cholena Hughes said they had observed a need to address culturally specific business requirements within the program.

“Blak Business is different to general business,” Ms Hughes said.

“First Nations people operating business have to consider cultural protocols, especially if there's a focus of culture in the business.

“We’re adding Mob Only spaces that are First Nations-led so that culturally specific yarns can happen in a safe and authentic way. 

“We’ve been lucky to secure an impressive range of mentors including First Nations business owners and experts such as Aunty Dale Chapman from My Dilly Bag, Mundanura Bayles from the Black Magic Woman Podcast, Leesa Watego from One Business, Simon Thornalley from Salt Water Eco Tours, Steph Parkin from Parralax Legal, and Sasha Parlett from Redhanded Productions.”

Expressions of interest are now being sought from creative practitioners nation-wide. To apply visit Applications close March 1.

The Refinery was founded in 2019 by Sunshine Coast Council, SunCentral and the MET, and the Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance.

The program is now delivered by the regions peak body for the arts, Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance, with council as a major investor and SunCentral as a program partner.

The First Nations Led series is supported by Sunshine Coast Council’s Arts and Heritage Levy. The levy is charged to every rateable property and projects funded by the levy contribute to achieving the four key arts goals within the Sunshine Coast Arts Plan 2018—2038:

  1. artists and artistic content is developed and celebrated
  2. arts audiences and creative opportunities flourish through investment and development
  3. dedicated networks of places and spaces for artists to connect, create and collaborate
  4. art and creativity is embedded in the identity and experience of the Sunshine Coast.

Download a copy of the Sunshine Coast Arts Plan 2018-2038 (PDF, 3.28MB) at

Sunshine Coast Council acknowledges the Sunshine Coast Country, home of the Kabi Kabi peoples and the Jinibara peoples, the Traditional Custodians, whose lands and waters we all now share.
We commit to working in partnership with the Traditional Custodians and the broader First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) community to support self-determination through economic and community development.
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