Dean Foley

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.

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.

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.


2018 VicForum event summary report

It was an incredible experience for the Barayamal Family to be a part of the 2018 VicForum! Below is a quote from our MD and a link to the event report if you would like to know what happen.

“I was very humbled to be a speaker at the 2018 VicForum, which is a platform to discuss the importance of multiculturalism and how our diverse community can create a better Australia for all who live in it.

How can companies claim to be innovative when they sometimes lack experiences and perspectives that represent a broader community!?

If you want to make Victoria and Australia stronger, culturally and economically, be part of the VicForum." - Dean Foley, MD at Barayamal

Click this link to view the summary report -->

Indigenous startup founders set to make an impact in 2018

Indigenous Australians have inhabited this land for tens of thousands of years and personally, I think that the fact I learned more about ancient Sparta and the Vikings in school than I did about the history of the land on which I actually live is a huge failure of the Australian education system.

Although there still so much work to be done preserving the Indigenous history of our nation and not just acknowledging but celebrating the fact that commerce and innovation in our country can be dated back more than 60,000 years (hello boomerang and didgeridoo), what has been great about the last two years in particular is the way in which the local startup ecosystem has embraced and supported Indigenous founders and their ideas....

What's holding back investment into businesses led by Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders?

Dean Foley, a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and head of accelerator program Barayamal has questioned why the economic body known as Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) are holding over $277 million in cash reserves for Indigenous entrepreneurship & businesses while delivering a lower amount of loans since 2014 according to the IBA 2016-2017 Annual Report.

Others have also questioned why IBA are holding back this money as well. 

Barayamal joins a national panel discussion on diversity

Barayamal's Founder, Dean Foley will join a panel discussion at one of the biggest tech startup events in the world, TechCrunch Startup Battlefield.

So what's the panel about and who else is on the panel? 

Strength in Diversity: How and why to make inclusion a foundation in every startup

In conversation with Greg Moshal (Prospa), Catriona Wallace (Flamingo) and Dean Foley (Barayamal)

[Event Agenda]