HONOURED: Cherissma Blackman features in an e-book to promote female Indigenous business leaders.
HONOURED: Cherissma Blackman features in an e-book to promote female Indigenous business leaders. Anna Rogers

Gladstone businesswomen to feature in new book

GLADSTONE'S Cherissma Blackman is one of 11 women selected from across Australia to feature in an e-book celebrating female Indigenous business leaders.

Because of Her We Can will be released during NAIDOC Week and it's hoped it will inspire more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women to embrace the business world.

The book is produced by Brisbane-based social enterprise, Femeconomy and cultural advisors, Ngiyani.

"We can learn so much from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and we have a role in amplifying their voices and leadership to the wider community," Femeconomy director Alanna Bastin-Byrne said.

Cherissma Blackman, graduated with a Law degree from CQUniversity last year after years working for government and non-government organisations, including Relationships Australia and the Indigenous unit at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It was during this time she was exposed to people running small businesses and on returning to Central Queensland she formed her own company delivering workshops in cultural heritage and cultural awareness inductions for industry, mining, government and the corporate sector.

"In 2012, my father asked me to start attending traditional owner meetings with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority," Cherissma told The Observer.

"That's where I realised that in the 2050 plan there was no tourism plans to sustain traditional owner groups on sea country.

"We have the sea ranger program which is active in caring for country but there was nothing to partake in the wealth generated from the tourism industry and research.

"Our people were not targeted for that, but we are the best caretakers."

Since then Cherissma has realised a dream and is launching a unique cultural heritage experience to passengers on cruise ships visiting Gladstone and visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

She is funding the venture herself, but says she isn't looking to make a lot of money, but rather develop a social enterprise that Indigenous people can take ownership of to help address high levels of underemployment and boost economic development among her people.

This week she was told she had been selected as part of Because of Her We Can.

"I was elated," she said.

"I had been so hectic it had completely slipped my mind I'd even applied.

"It takes me back to my own childhood, seeing inspiring women around me and picking up books.

"We didn't have the internet so I was very fortunate that I had very good educators who went before me, people who had done their education degree.

"I think it's a fantastic concept and I'm very honoured to be a part of it."