Hi my name is Fiona Jose, I'm the CEO of Cape York Partnership and I'm a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from Cape York and the Torres Straits.
[Where is Cape York Partnership located?]
So we're located, we have a base in an office in Cairns and we have locations throughout uh six Cape York communities and some throughout kind of Brisbane and Townsville as the broader work that we do. So we probably have about 10 locations in total with predominantly our base being Cairns and servicing Cape York.
[You have had an amazing career. Can you tell us a bit about it?]
Look my career has been varied, some might say chequered, but it's actually really kind of um a bit of who I am, which is I like to come in be hands-on, learn something and make my way kind of up to the top with organizations or projects that I really believe in. So my career has followed that path. So I think I wouldn't have said one day I would have wanted to be the CEO of an Aboriginal organisation but the past that have led me there have built my skills. So I've worked for government, for corporate, for not-for-profit, um, so to come full circle now and to have all the skills and experiences. A range a diverse kind of backgrounds as well, I've worked in education, training and employment, aviation from a corporate perspective um and doing that and I think all those skills collectively I've given a lot to those organizations and they've given as much back to me in supporting my growth to then kind of be able to be the leader of Cape York Partnership.
[What kind of value does an organisation like Cape York Partnership bring to the community?]
Yeah, I've been with Cape York Partnership for 10 years and I've been the CEO for the last three. So I think, what we the, the value we bring, to not only First Nations community but Australia, is actually a perspective of resilience, a perspective of forgiveness. Of really being able to work collaboratively with people. We have a real history which is such a strength of the culture of who we are in co-designing solutions for our own problem and I think we offer that, which is part of kind of our value proposition and success as an organization, but then we teach and show others that work with us how to do that and what we mean by collaboration, what we mean by true co-design and what we mean by First Nations led.
[How long has Cape York Partnerships been partnering with TMR?]
Yeah, so um, we've partnered through one of our entities, Bama Services, with TMR for, since 2015. So six years now, and that has been a journey in itself. A journey of growth together in partnership, in collaboration, and learning along the way a bit about each other and how we could improve not only the relationship, but more importantly the outcomes for people in Cape York on projects and really about creating jobs that's, that's how we came together with TMR. That was our core purpose of how can we create jobs um and employ more Indigenous businesses ourselves directly? Because the value we bring to that relationship is, we know our own people, we know how to support them best and we know how to um support them in that journey, and, therefore what we needed from government was their policies and procurement and commitment to that, to enable them to to sit at the table with us and then work out how do we do this together.
[What kind of projects do you work on with TMR on?]
Yeah, so at Bama Civil, we work with TMR on a range of projects. I think it's important to understand we started off small, really small projects and working with that and our first three to four projects probably were and at the time we might have been a little frustrated by that because you know it takes a long time to build up. But in hindsight, it's also been why we are now have the successful relationship we do because by taking on smaller projects we were able to build our own capacity. We were able to show that we are safe, that we have quality work, that we can be good with price and that we happen to be Indigenous, but that we weren't leading with an Indigenous-led. This is not about um a handout but it was about saying we can do these other things for you and for government and contractors, who are used to dealing with big corporations with big systems, that was a big effort to say well we're going to commit and work through this. So we started with small projects for three, you know, three or four of our first projects and now I would say we are past that, um and we are bidding and winning work in our own right as Bama Civil, but we also have some joint ventures, with Downer EDI, that allows us now to really kind of do more than we thought we could have done.
[Why do you think it is important that wholly Indigenous owned businesses play a role in road infrastructure businesses?]
Why it's so important to actually have Indigenous organizations like Bama Services on infrastructure road, several projects, is we know how to employ Indigenous people and we know how to incubate and support other Indigenous businesses and that's really um that's really key to what we do and also we know how to work with Traditional Owners it's something that we know we we really respect and we work through.