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Jirra Lulla Harvey On The Intersection Between Commerce, Capitalism + Culture, On TDF Talks


Ever since she was a child, Jirra Lulla Harvey wanted to a boss. She made business cards for herself, and walked around in power suits as a ten-year-old (pistachio-hued with shoulder pads, of course) – a mini version of her future self.

Years later would see the Koorie woman found Kalinya Communications, an Aboriginal-owned PR and communications agency that specialises in First Nations business strategy, as well as ‘matchmaking’ Indigenous business owners with government bodies and organisations including the National Gallery of Australia, Melbourne International Film Festival and RMIT, to name a few.

Over the last 18 months, Jirra has felt a distinct shift in cultural mindset across Australia. The conversation around Indigenous ways of knowing is gathering speed. Jirra says she’s seeing more mainstream interest in Aboriginal knowlege and voices than ever before, and she’s determined to make the most of that momentum!

In this podcast conversation we talk about those changing tides, the unique yet universal model of First Nations values-led leadership, and Jirra’s new project – Kalinya Retreats. She’s a true trailblazer!

9th July, 2021

Images from Jirra Lulla Harvey’s inaugural’ Kalinya Retreat’ – retreats for indigenous entrepreneurs and friends, to come together, and talk business under the stars. Left image: Yugambeh Elder Uncle Steve Cora from Ancestors Gifts Canoes. Photos by Shannon Hayes for Wirrim Media.

Lucy Feagins
Friday 9th July 2021

In the language of the Yorta Yorta people kalinya means good, beautiful and honest – values that Jirra Lulla Harvey is determined to embed into all her business dealings, as the founder and managing director of Kalinya, a communications agency specialising in First Nations business strategy.

The Koorie woman was raised by a fiercely creative and political family, and grew up surrounded by stories of love, passion and care for community. Through her parents, she also saw unique ways of working within Aboriginal community-controlled businesses and organisations, which she carried through her university years and post-graduation work in universities, government and the corporate sector.

With Jirra at the helm, Kalinya fuses modern business with Indigenous knowledge systems: on one hand building strong PR and communications strategy for First Nations; and on the other, consulting with non-Aboriginal businesses, on ways they can work with First Nations collaborators and partners, and embed vital Aboriginal wisdom into their own company principles and practices.

In this fascinating conversation, Jirra explains how the values that underpin Indigenous culture and knowledge are becoming more and more relevant to good business strategy. In fact, as more corporate organisations seek to embed social responsibility and ‘profit with purpose’ into their business models, we are seeing a return to the same principles that have guided Aboriginal leaders for centuries. For example, ‘conscious consumerism’ is, at its essence, caring for Country.

Right now Jirra is exactly where she needs to be – and she has BIG plans brewing! In this inspiring conversation, we talked about the power of Aboriginal thinking and values, and why right now is a critical moment for Aboriginal entrepreneurship in Australia. Jirra also shares an introduction to her super exciting new project, Kalinya Retreats – retreats for indigenous entrepreneurs and friends, to come together, and talk business under the stars. Sign us up!

I was so inspired by this fascinating and generous chat, as you will be too!

Huge thanks to Jirra for joining us for this insightful podcast conversation. Jirra also joins us this year as a judge in the Collaboration category of The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.