Another business entrepreneur who captured a simple idea and took it to the next level is Kelli Ryan, who last year started the Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Art & Culture Studio in Gerringong, on the south coast of NSW.

While many people were full of talk about reconciliation and building relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, Ryan literally became a builder of bridges between the two communities.

While teaching photography, drawing and aboriginal art history at West Wollongong TAFE over 13 years, Ryan (as course co-ordinator for the Aboriginal unit) met and befriended a group of indigenous artists who in August of this year graduated with an advanced diploma of visual arts from TAFE – the first Aboriginal group in NSW to achieve these qualifications.

Sadly, Ryan’s mum passed away last year, but left her with a small inheritance which she used to buy some land near the railway station at Gerringong. She became a builder (following in her dad’s footsteps) and employed a group of eight indigenous artists to help her build a studio to showcase their works and run workshops to bring the community and the artists together.