It has been a challenging year for Indigenous communities within Australia. But, against a challenging backdrop, First Nations social enterprise We Are Warriors (WAW) has been able to enact incredible positive change.
WAW was co-founded by Nooky — rapper, radio DJ, creative and proud Yuin & Thunghutti man alongside co-founder Ben Miles, VP, ECD at creative innovation studio R/GA Australia. It serves as a platform and a beacon for Indigenous youth in Australia to look towards for inspiration. When First Nations people make up three per cent of the population and four-fifths of 10-year-olds behind bars are Indigenous, telling positive and inspirational stories can seem challenging.
IPG-owned R/GA has worked very closely with WAW and Miles has been instrumental in getting the organisation off the ground. For its work with WAW and its Blak Powerhouse event on 26 January, R/GA won the Award for Diversity at this year’s B&T Awards.
Miles and Nooky first met in mid-2020, during the COVID pandemic and amidst the Black Lives Matter movement in the US – a time of conversations around systemic racism, biases, inequality and soul-searching.
“I was sitting in my living room, going through the same process, looking at Black Lives Matter on the TV and seeing it happening right here in Australia, and starting to check our own biases. I reached out to Nooky. And asked if we could have a conversation. We sat down, and we talked about all the uncomfortable truths that indigenous people face in Australia, and how long that’s been going on and it so often is brushed under the carpet,” Miles told B&T.
“I wanted to just listen to Nooky, I didn’t go with any preconceived ideas. I just knew the world was going through a period in time where we’re all trying to better understand ourselves and look at how we can help if there anything I can do with the privilege that I have, I come from a privileged background, I have privilege, can I use that privilege in any way to help somebody?”
The ball started rolling and ideas started to transform into action. A year after WAW launched, on 26 January 2023, WAW took over the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney for an afternoon and evening celebrating Blak excellence.
WAW puts a spotlight on Indigenous role models, helping to inspire Blak youth and show that there are no limits to what they can achieve. The group also offers training, internships and community to Indigenous youth around Australia none of which would be possible if it weren’t for the support of brands.
It has been a challenging year for corporate activism in Australia. The No campaign during the Voice to Parliament referendum, went to great lengths to paint companies that actively supported the voice as out of touch with regular consumers.
This included the big four banks as well as mining and energy firms such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy, and Origin Energy. Qantas and Telstra also supported the voice and donated. Coles and Woolies, meanwhile, supported the Voice though Coles did not donate. Woolies has chosen not to comment on donations.
“I want to know if NAB is all-in behind Mayo or is their support just crass corporate virtue-signalling? Polling shows the CEO is out of touch with his customers. Things are going to get a lot tougher for mortgage holders, he should be focusing on helping his customers through these challenges,” said Liberal National Party MP Garth Hamilton, challenging a pro-Voice video found on the bank’s website in parliament.
But the point of WAW is not to achieve quick-fix solutions to the challenges that Indigenous youth face in Australia by raking in dollars from corporate Australia in “crass corporate virtue signalling” efforts. Instead, it is about enacting long-term change.
“When Ben and I first had a conversation about doing something together, I said to him ‘Don’t come and have a conversation with me if you are not about it and not in it for the long run’. We say the same to brands,” said Nooky.
This long-term relationship between Nooky and Miles has led to significant, tangible action taken by WAW to help improve the lives of Australia’s Indigenous youth.
“A grant from the City of Sydney has enabled us to establish a physical space. The commercial lease is valued at $780,000, allowing us to launch community projects,” explained Nooky.
“A TikTok partnership enabled us to launch a WAW handle; they have committed a further $20,000 in sponsorship for 2023 content production.
“Adobe has committed to developing a WAW academy, facilitating pathways into creative internships and work placements”.
JD Sports, in consultation and collaboration, with WAW has introduced Welcome to Countries on its point-of-sale software across its 50 stores around the country and added it to its build process for new stores.
“Working with WAW, we saw an opportunity to create change. WAW’s mission of “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” underscores Adobe’s belief that creativity can change the world and, through creativity for all, can be the conduit for greater connection and impact,” said Clare Cahill, senior manager, event experience at Adobe.
“Our partnership with WAW and the team at R/GA is symbiotic, and collectively, our goal is to support grassroots change and ongoing impact in the First Nations youth community. It’s only the beginning of our journey, and we will continue exploring opportunities to leverage Adobe’s platform to support WAW”.
JD Sport’s ANZ head of marketing Michael Weatherston added that the brand was “proud to partner with WAW and support the indigenous community”.
“Although we are early on in this journey there has been a substantial impact on the business through internal conversation and RAP planning, and externally to customers within each store through visual POS updates. We are also engaging with local community members at events and store openings, which has also been introduced across New Zealand”.
However, none of these initiatives and partnerships are flash-in-the-pan opportunities for better optics.
“If companies and organisations turn Indigenous issues into a notion of some sort of box-ticking initiative or stunt, it won’t help what we’re doing with WAW and brands, and it won’t help move anything forward. There has to be a deeper level of engagement with WAW and Indigenous communities inside of their organisations,” added Nooky.
“So, we’ve only partnered with brands who genuinely have a long-term, sustained and tangible intention to understand and engage and to create pathways for Indigenous talent. This includes having clarity about the purpose and the relevant scale for engagement, which may call for multi-layered processes. And we work closely with them throughout this process from the earliest stage to help them define the problem that needs to be solved and where WAW can help”.
It hasn’t, however, been easy. Budgets are stretched and brands have been unwilling to commit to an issue that, for some unknown reason, can be seen as controversial.
“In the early days, we had a wonderful conversation with an amazing brand who was really excited about what WAW represented and what it stood for, where it was going to go and was very much behind it. It was also talking about putting a significant amount of funding in,” said Miles.
“Unfortunately, a few months into the conversation, the funding was going to be pooled and then reallocated to something equally as powerful but just different. It was a very hard conversation to have with Nooky. It was probably the hardest work conversation I’ve ever had.
“He turned around to me and said, ‘Ben, we can’t stop now, if we let something like this hold us back, we can’t call ourselves Warriors’”.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) has recently launched the “Keep Their Future Bright” campaign in response to the concerning trends in underage alcohol consumption amongst high school students, specifically 15 to 16-year-olds. A recent survey of 3,240 Year 10 students in SA and NSW revealed a worrying spike in early alcohol consumption, with one-third […]
Yesterday the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released its gender pay gap numbers for the first time, and not everyone agrees with the findings, Following the release, Google Australia – which had a median gender pay gap of 14.9 per cent when total remuneration is considered – sent an internal memo to staff in which […]
Ogilvy PR has announced a number of promotions and several hires as it strengthens its corporate leadership structure. Jacquie Potter, currently Group MD of Ogilvy PR’s corporate and business practice, has also joined ALDI as a client. Lead Image: (L-R) – Ant Kelaher, Frances Dwyer, Mitch Henderson and Amy Piek. With Potter’s upcoming departure, Ant Kelaher, who […]
The Sweetshop Australia announces the arrival of Kate Roydhouse to its leadership team as executive producer. Pictured L-R: Kate Roydhouse (Executive Producer), Edward Pontifex (Co-Managing Director), Greg Fyson (Co-Managing Director). Basing herself in the Sydney office, Roydhouse will be a familiar face to many in the industry as she has been working alongside Ben Dailey […]
The 64th TV WEEK Logie Awards will be held in Sydney on Sunday, 18 August 2024, with changes to award categories and the judging process being implemented to ensure the Awards evolve and prosper as well as reflect Australia’s vibrant, dynamic and world-class television industry alongside the viewing habits of Australians. Three awards will continue […]
In the face of challenging times, Square, in partnership with Alchemy One, launched an innovative campaign dedicated to bringing some holiday cheer while powering local businesses in Melbourne. At the core of the activation is the Square Claw Machine, which offered commuters a chance to win vouchers for local eateries powered by Square, including popular […]
GroupM is expanding its strategy team in New Zealand with the appointment of Dom Dipple as a strategist. The newly created role marks the latest of several key appointments at GroupM New Zealand in recent months under new CEO John Halpin. Dipple will report to Emily Scovell, who joined in December as chief strategy officer. […]
Wellbub, a trailblazer in promoting maternal well-being in Singapore, launched its groundbreaking campaign, ‘The Ruin I Need To Fix,’ on Tuesday, 27th February 2024. This transformative initiative aims to challenge societal norms surrounding postpartum bodies, fostering inclusivity and empowering new mothers to embrace the beauty of their journey. The Wellbub team, in collaboration with photographer […]
Australian Turf Club invites racing lovers across Australia to Expect It All with the launch of the latest creative campaign to highlight the racing on offer in Sydney at Rosehill Gardens and Royal Randwick. The campaign, which will officially launch ahead of this year’s Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, highlights the wide range of incredible experiences […]
Avenue C has won the media account for kitchen appliance brand KitchenAid, B&T can reveal. The North Sydney-based agency snared the media planning and buying work away from Havas. M&C Saatchi-owned Bohemia and fellow indie agency This Is Flow are understood to have been involved in the pitch, too. KitchenAid had awarded its media planning […]
The ballet takes us away from the everyday – a feeling that inspired the theme for West Australian Ballet’s 2024 Season ‘The Discovery.’ In partnership with VML, West Australian Ballet worked with renowned photographer Jason Capobianco to bring the sensation of the 2024 theme to life. ‘The Discovery’ concept explores how ballet takes audiences someplace […]
Icon Agency’s Digital UX design team has partnered with Visual Communication Victoria (VCV) to provide an enriching presentation for secondary school students across Victoria. The session aimed to teach students UX design principles with a human-centred approach. Tailored for VCE Visual Communication Design students as part of their Unit 3 curriculum, the presentation focused on […]
Tracksuit has announced it has raised $20.5 million AUD in Series A funding, led by Silicon Valley-based firms Altos Ventures and Footwork. Lead Image: Matt Herbert & Connor Archbold The funding marks the company’s second external investment, reaching a staggering valuation of $142.9 million AUD and achieving $9.5 million ARR in just under three years. […]
She Creates has revealed its plans for 2024 with a new committee and revamped structure to support women in the creative industry. Lead image: Amy Lambert & Elise Rundell She Creates is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring, promoting and representing women in the creative communications industry of Adelaide. “As we start this new […]
Carlton FC had an epic run to the finals series but fell short just one game before the grand final, succumbing 63 points to the Brisbane Lions 79. As the 2024 season looms, the Blues are focused on taking it one step further. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight on Sponsors series, where we unpack all the major […]
Something insane swept to New Zealand as finals approached last year. “Wahs Mania” took hold, and hope was ignited in the hearts of Kiwis who mostly didn’t usually care about League. Sadly, the Warriors didn’t make it through to the grand final, but the clubs following saw a massive increase nonetheless. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight […]
Credit Union SA has partnered with a local South Australian integrated agency, kwpx, on a new brand campaign, ‘We CU SA,’ that highlights their love for the state. The recently launched large-scale brand campaign showcases Credit Union SA as one of the last remaining credit unions solely focused on South Australian members. The campaign captures […]
Atomic 212° has continued its 2023 winning streak into the new year with the announcement of three new clients: VetPartners, Adyen and UKG. Lead image: Claire Fenner VetPartners is Australasia’s leading veterinary practice management company, with a community of 4,500 people in more than 250 practices plus training centres, a vet nurse training school and […]
Cannes in Cairns revellers at the ready, we’ve got the low down on the MOOD x Mental Health First Aid Course taking place at this year’s Cannes in Cairns. The industry-first course will see attendees certified as mental health first aiders, to help colleagues manage their mental health. Chloe Hooper, the founder of Bare Feat […]
Avid Collective has officially announced the appointment of former Scout Publishing and Junkee Media executive Niki Jones (lead image) as its new head of enablement operations. In the newly created role, Jones will be responsible for overseeing operational activities across various arms of business with a focus on partner engagement. “Niki’s appointment comes at an […]