How Traditional Indigenous Games are helping Indigenous youth to excel in technology

I had an ambitious idea to help teach Indigenous youth to code in 2017 without any funding or support, and after running our first program over a year ago, I've starting building some new programs on MIT Scratch to teach Indigenous youth how to code by building Tradition Indigenous Games. The first game I built is called kolap, which is a traditional game played in the Torres Strait.

What is kolap?

The game Kolap (or Kulap) is a traditional game that is played throughout the Islands in the Torres Strait among the young and old. The kulap seed is actually known as a matchbox bean or QLD Bean in Far North QLD but in the Torres Straits, they are called Kulaps. This game is based on using the natural resources available to Torres Strait Islanders whilst having fun and keeping everyone entertained. Early Childhood Inclusion specialist, Cecelia Wright suggest using bean bags when re-creating this game to play with children as an interactive activity.  

Why is it important?

Around 75 per cent of jobs in the future will need STEM skills, but coding is still not a formalised part of the curriculum in most parts of the education system. Teaching kids coding is the first step in helping them get ready for jobs of the future - and make sure Indigenous students don't get left behind. Teaching Indigenous youth about coding so they understand how computers work and the best ways to interact with them is how we can stop the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians from increasing.

According to a recent study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than half (53 per cent) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were aged under 25 years in 2016. Also, Indigenous unemployment is a national crisis at 21 per cent, an increase of 4.3 percentage points since 2008, and is 4 times the current non-Indigenous unemployment rate of 5 per cent.

However, Australia's digital economy is projected to be worth $139 billion a year by 2020 that can provide business or employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians, but its growth is inhibited by a skills shortage, according to the most recent study from Deloitte Access Economics and The Australian Computer Society. Also, the average weekly full-time earnings before tax for Software and Applications Programmers in 2014 was $1,613 while the average earnings for all occupations were $1,200.

How can you support us?

Read more about what we're doing and the future we're building to create a better Australia for everyone! If you would like to support Barayamal and our programs, please contact me via email or call 0458 980 232.

If you know of an awesome school or community organisation like Capalaba State Collegewho we can work with to teach more Indigenous youth how to code (or entrepreneurship), please let me know!

We're also running the first ever Indigenous Game Jam in November for those who would like to support us by creating some more games to teach Indigenous youth how to code 💻🎮

Three things I've learnt from Richard Branson

I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do after finishing year 12 and I didn’t feel I was smart enough to go to university with below average grades so I ended up joining the Royal Australian Air Force....

It’s kind of funny in hindsight because I’ve almost completed two masters degrees (MBA & Masters of Business) and I can definitely say that the Air Force is way harder (no offence to my fellow university students)!

So anyways, one day when I was sitting down doing my work an Air Force friend walked by and unexpectedly dropped a book on my desk. I was a bit surprised about the whole thing since I never asked for a book, but when I got home I started reading it… It was on entrepreneurship, which I never knew anything about - coming from a poor family and growing up in a rough environment, getting a job in the Air Force exceeded my expectations at the time and I never really knew about the many other opportunities available, besides having a job...

This book lit a burning desire within me to learn more so I begun reading more books and come across an entrepreneur called Richard Branson who seemed to be making a real difference in the world instead of just trying making a quick buck. The way he conducted himself in business resonated with me and he also had similar community-based values that I was taught growing up in the Aboriginal community in Gunnedah so I wanted to learn more about him…

And after reading six of his books (he’s never lost for words!) and following him online religiously for almost four years, here’s the three things I’ve learnt from Richard Branson:

1. Enjoy what you do

Richard is one of the most optimistic people I know, even though I haven’t actually met him yet! Every time I see or read about him, he’s always got a smile on his face and is positive about work and life.

“We spend most of or waking lives at work, so it’s important that we do what you love and love what we do.” - Richard Branson

Everyone makes mistakes, including Richard who lost £1.85 billion when he tried to launch Virgin Galactic and a new rail franchise at the same time and another £100 million for research and development of bed seats that was superseded by British Airways who come up with a better product.

However, Richard lives by his words and I think no one can doubt that he enjoys what he does... even George Clooney said that he would swap lives with Richard, anytime! It’s probably the biggest reason why he’s stayed in business for so long and built one of the most diverse and successful businesses in the world.

“Those people who spend their time working on things they love are usually the ones enjoying life the most.” - Richard Branson

Before my friend dropped that book on my desk, I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing... Richard inspired me to leave my job and learn about entrepreneurship, which has not been easy or glamorous (disclaimer) but I’ve enjoyed the journey and the projects more than any job I’ve previously had.. so the first and probably the most important I learnt from Richard is to enjoy what you do!

2. Screw It, Let's Do It

Screw It, Let's Do It is from a title of one of his books, which was my favourite to read and by far the most appropriate title for this article, compared to “just do it” by Nike.

Despite all the haters and naysayers who were telling him that he was going to fail or it couldn’t be done, he just got on with the job and made it happen. I think in today’s world, it’s easier to be a pessimist or hater… from a young age we are told we can’t do this and shouldn’t do that. Destroying our creativity and dreams, we are forced to conform within the current limitations of society.

Richard, in my opinion, doesn’t conform to what other people think he should or shouldn’t do. He thinks outside of the box, and it's one of his biggest advantages in business and life.

Sometimes his ideas work, sometimes they don't... but I’ve personally taken on board his “Screw It, Let’s Do It” mentality and even though I’m just getting started in my business career, I’ve gone from a 'nobody' to winning national awards, working in a startup that recently raised $5 million and starting my own charity called Barayamal within a short period of time…. Despite the haters, in my mind it’s only a matter of time until I become successful in business.

“Small minds can’t comprehend big spirits. To be great, you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, and misunderstood. Stay strong.” - Unknown

3. Business is more than just making money

“If you aren’t making a positive difference to other people’s lives, then you shouldn’t be in business. Companies have a responsibility to make a difference in the world, for their staff, their customers - everyone.” - Richard Branson

As much as I wanted to put the above quote in my own words, Richard sums it up perfectly and like I said, he’s never lost for words!

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where a lot of business people still focus on making as much money as possible despite the social costs. From colonialism to recent Royal Commissions into the banks, greed and power has destroyed many lives and communities.

However, with entrepreneurs like Richard Branson leading the way, I think it gives humanity hope that things can be different instead of "business as usual", and provides the next generation of entrepreneurs coming up with something to aspire and look up to.

Despite never meeting Richard Branson in person, I feel very lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to learn invaluable lessons (there’s more than just three!) from one of the best entrepreneurs in my lifetime.

Indigenous entrepreneurs set their sights on global markets

"I'm excited to announce that Barayamal is taking some of the best up-and-coming Indigenous entrepreneurs to America from September 3 to 13.

The "Indigipreneurs" will attend TechCrunch’s Disrupt event, spend time at the Australian Landing Pad for startups in San Francisco, and meet Native American entrepreneurs in New Mexico. The Startup Tour aims to inspire the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs to think big, learn new skills and grow their professional networks - with the aim of supporting the future leaders of tomorrow who can help build sustainable Indigenous communities.

A learning opportunity

Disrupt is one of the biggest events in the world for startups, and attracts the best entrepreneurs, investors and technologists from around the globe. Over three days, the Indigipreneurs will check out everything from the Startup Battlefield competition to a virtual hackathon, hundreds of the best startups in Startup Alley, world-class workshops, and legendary networking opportunities at the after parties.

The second part of the trip will be in New Mexico, and will give the Indigipreneurs an invaluable opportunity to meet Native American entrepreneurs and leaders, to collaborate and learn from each other. The massive movement within New Mexico’s Native American communities to increase entrepreneurship and economic development is seen as a way to solve the disparity and opportunity gap created by colonialism.

Included in the tour will be a visit to New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC), one of the leading incubator/accelerators bringing tools for success to emerging Native American businesses. In just over three years, NMCC's flagship program, Native Entrepreneur in Residence, has graduated 30 small Native owned companies, creating 128 new jobs, with 58% of those being Native hires, and over $8 million in new gross revenues. NMCC has served people from 20 different tribes in 5 different states.

Trip Outcomes

The mission schedule includes private group tours and meetings, and the Indigenous entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to meet American entrepreneurs and investors in their own time, too.

"I am beyond excited for the Startup Tour because it presents an unmissable opportunity to contribute to Indigenous entrepreneurship and what it means to the world,” added Alisha Geary, Founder and CEO at ‎Faebella, and Startup Tour participant. “I hope that this trip will serve as a giant dose of inspiration for me to kick-start my business and get it on the global stage." 

Here's two of the Indigiprenuers we're taking on the trip...

Alisha Geary

Alisha is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business law student, who is now taking her inspiration into the world of business with a new line of activewear. Alisha wants stories told in Indigenous art to spread far and wide across the world, and what better way than through entrepreneurship? Alisha owns Faebella, an online store selling women’s active wear featuring Indigenous art.

Morgan Coleman

Morgan is the CEO & Founder of Vets on Call and Morgan Coleman Developments. He has extensive experience founding and growing start-is within Victoria as well as running businesses of over 1 million in revenue. Being a proud Torres Strait Islander, Morgan wanted to create a company, which developed products that stood as a lasting testament of how Indigenous Australians truly can be the masters of their own destiny.

P.S. There's a lot more to stay up-to-date by subscribing to Barayamal's Newsletter!" - Dean Foley, Founder at Barayamal.

I think we need more.... - Matthew Compton, Keynote Speaker at the First Nations Youth Summit

Matthew is a proud Wiradjuri man raised on Bunjalung Country and a successful Indigenous entrepreneur. Having began his career under well known Australian technology entrepreneur Bevan Slattery then went on to work with several data and machine learning startups in Sydney before soon co-founding two of his own technology businesses in the same space. Matthew is currently Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Really; a startup that uses machine learning to provide early-detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and other dementias sooner, allowing sufferers to access drugs that were previously inaccessible due to maturity of the condition.

Below is a quick video Matt did for the First Nations Youth Summit on why he believes we need more... 🎙️🎥


Barayamal International Startup Tour

We are excited to announce that one First Nation youth from the First Nations Youth Summit will be joining Barayamal's US Startup Tour on the 3-14 September 2018, which includes attending TechCrunch's Disrupt event in San Fransisco (with over 10,000 other attendees) and visiting some Native American business hubs in New Mexico. 

Valued at over $3,000 (flights, accommodation and Disrupt SF tickets), this is a "once in a lifetime opportunity!". Let your network know about the summit and prize, and we look forward to seeing over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth at the First Nations Youth Summit (a Barayamal event) later this month!

Limited tickets are still available via Eventbrite -->…


Best Digital Storytelling by an Indigenous Australian

Barayamal Founder, Dean Foley was recently announced as the "Best Digital Storytelling by an Indigenous Australian" Award Winner at the 2018 Australian Not-For-Profit Technology Awards., which recognised the excellence in use of digital storytelling by an  Indigenous Australian to positively connect with and impact local communities.

This is the third international award for Barayamal within a year.

Life-Changing Lessons From An Indigenous Entrepreneur who Lost Everything

On today’s show,

We hear how Yamatji man, Leslie Dingo lost $160,000 and his life savings before figuring out the formula for success.

Leslie is now a successful trader and investor who only works a couple of hours a day (after hitting the gym) and still lives in his community in rural Western Australia, while earning more money than most employees.


  • “If we had a mentor that had already made the mistakes before we got to them, it would of saved us a lot of heartache and money so I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good mentor.”
  • “Trading was where my real passion was and I think for a lot of entrepreneurs and people who want to have a better life need to do is find what you are really passionate about and what you like doing and make a business out of it.”
  • “Review your circle and if there are people who are not helping you achieve your goals or ambitions, then I would really consider reviewing the relationship and finding the right people that you need in your life.”

Show Notes

  • Leslie talks about how he got into trading stock despite growing up in outback Western Australia. [0:50]
  • How to make money fast. [2:30]
  • How Leslie learned how to successfully trade without mentors. [3:38]
  • Benefits of having a mentor vs not having a mentor. [5:00]
  • Lessons learned from trading in the real-world. [5:50]
  • How Leslie loss $160,000 and his life savings to making it all back within a year. [6:43]
  • Success factors that lead to his success in trading. [8:20]
  • Why you need to find your passion and make a business out of it to achieve success in life. [9:50]
  • How playing poker helped Leslie become in trading. [12:35]
  • Overcoming negativity from middle-class Australia. [14:50]
  • Why you should review your circle and remove the toxic relationships from your life. [16:11]
  • Leslie discusses some of his biggest trades and how much money he makes. [18:35]
  • What to look for in the companies you plan to invest in. [25:15]
  • Things to be careful of when investing in Bitcoin to avoid trade manipulations and losing all your money. [27:30]
  • “Trade what you know” – the success principle you need to know. [31:50]
  • Why you need to trade what you are passionate about and to avoid “spiritual suicide”. [34:00]
  • Future plans for the Dingo brothers. [39:00]
  • The books you need to read. [43:00]


That concludes today episode of Indigipreneur. If you would like to know more about Leslie’s connect with him on Twitter @leslie_dingo.

This episode was brought to you by Amanda Young from the First Nations Foundation. The First Nations Foundation help First Nations people to achieve economic freedom through financial literacy training and support. Feel free to get in touch with the First Nations Foundation by emailing or visit their website

How A Young Aboriginal Entrepreneur Sold His First Startup While in High School for $50,000 – Here’s How He Did It

On today’s show

We hear how Darug man, Dylan Mottlee sold his first business at 17 for $50,000 and is now expecting to turn over $300,000 this year in his new business.


  • “Everyone has a reason to keep going forward, regardless of your circumstances and regardless of your age. Don’t define anything by normal social standards, reinvent the wheel.”
  • “It’s very plain and simple, university does not teach you anything for entrepreneurship. You can come out with a degree in entrepreneurship and not have a single clue how to effectively manage your business.”
  • “I’m just super-passionate about business and entrepreneurship that to me it wasn’t really around what keeps you motivated, this was my life now and this is what I’m doing on a daily basis like professional sportsmen.”
  • “Step up to the plate and get some work done. I can tell you right now, if you don’t and in a years time you look back, you probably won’t have much to show for it but if you put your head down and you concentrate I can guarantee you when you look back in a years time you’re going to be so much happier.”


  • Dylan talks about his first business and how it sold it for over $55,000 when he was only 17 years old and continued to receive royalties for three years after selling. [0:48]
  • How and why he invested the money from his first business into other businesses. [2:20]
  • His new business that sells technology products and is predicted to turn over approximately $300,000 this year. [3:00]
  • Why he developed a computer algorithm via Python to grow his business through Facebook. [4:15]
  • Where Dylan finds talented employees to help grow his business. [7:20]
  • How he started developing an entrepreneurship mindset from the age of 13. [9:26]
  • Where the motivation comes from to overcome challenges and run a growing business. [11:09]
  • Why community is a big factor and how Dylan become a volunteer Director of his local Aboriginal Council. [12:30]
  • Despite being only 23 years of age, Dylan beliefs age is just a number in the world of business. [14:33]
  • The amazing talent within First Nations communities and how one girl developed an algorithm for Qantas that saved them $12,000,000. [20:00]
  • Biggest challenge that he needed to overcome in business and why you need to sacrifice to achieve success. [21:33]
  • Looking for information or courses to learn how to become an entrepreneur? Listen to Dylan as he talks about the only information you need to become successful in business. [24:10]
  • Do you need to go to university to be an entrepreneur? [25:20]
  • How to manage your time even if you run three businesses. [28:00]
  • Improving business operations through technology to optimise and increase sales. [32:36]
  • Why the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is important for your business and how to do it yourself. [35:54]
  • How Dylan is breaking negative stereotypes in Australia through his success in business. [39:20]
  • How technology can close the digital divide between First Nations and non-First Nations people. [49:22]
  • How the Australian government can make a real difference and help close the disparity gap. [51:45]

That concludes today episode of Indigipreneur. If you would like to know more about Dylan Mottlee, please connect with him on social media or visit his website, Dyls Online.

This episode was brought to you by Zoey Dowling from Operation Move.

Operation Move supports you to achieve your life goals and a happier life by providing online and in-person running coaching and personal training programs. Feel free to get in touch with her at or visit her website

Barayamal raises $13,000 for the International First Nations Startup Tour in September 2018

The Barayamal Family was able to raise over $13,000 at the 10x10 Philanthropy crowdfunding event in Sydney, which will be invested in taking some of the brightest First Nations youth to Silicon Valley and New York for our International Startup Tour in September this year.

This trip will inspire First Nations youth to "think big", learn new skills and grow their networks with the aim of building the future leaders of tomorrow who can help build sustainable First Nations Communities.

We will also be filming the trip and try to create a 'cool' TV show or short film that we can hopefully get on 📺 to inspire more youth... A massive thank you to the people at 10x10 who supported us 🙏🏼

Check out the latest Barayamal Newsletter

What's in this newsletter?

- Our Founder, Dean Foley wins the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Early Career Award.
- 10x10 Pitch at Atlassian, Sydney.
- Fundraiser for the International First Nations Startup Tour.