EcoMan: creating Indigenous business

From 19 to 21 September 2011, sixteen year 11 students from Trinity Bay High School and Cairns State High School were encouraged to look towards working in business through an innovative program called EcoMan.

EcoMan, short for Economic Management, is a business simulation program used widely throughout Europe. Forty-five programs have been held across Queensland over the last several years through the Queensland Private Enterprise Centre (QPEC).

It is just one of the programs introduced by the Department of Communities' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS), Far North Queensland, through the Learning, Earning, Active, Places (LEAP) Strategy and was facilitated by QPEC.

EcoMan aims to inform participants of the commercial realities of operating a business, provide an understanding of business and the contribution private enterprise makes to the community and to encourage school leavers to consider the private sector as a career choice.

Barry Hopf, the EcoMan Education Coordinator from QPEC said "The real test of whether a program is successful is the degree of involvement in the fourth trading session on day three and in my view that involvement was at a high level with this group."

The Cairns EcoMan program was only the second time involving only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants. They were divided into three teams and each member took on a key role in their simulated company with roles including CEOs, human resource managers, marketing managers and production managers.

Two out of the three student companies broke the previous Queensland record for highest registered share price, with the difference between the two teams being just one dollar.

"The three share prices were an outstanding 881, 880 and 861 with the previous highest share price belonging to Gympie High." Barry said.

The Cairns Indigenous students' results are currently the best in Queensland, how deadly!

ATSIS would like to acknowledge PASS Australia in organising the students to participate, in particular the role of Irene Robinson, Regional Manager.

Mr Norm Ferguson, Director ATSIS said "we expect to see some of these young people running their own companies in the future."

The Department of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, through the Indigenous Coordination Centre Cairns, contributed funding for this program as Cairns West (Mooroobool, Manoora and Manunda) is a bi-lateral project site in partnership with the Queensland Government's Department of Communities - ATSIS.

DESCRIPTION: Photo - participants and facilitators from the Cairns EcoMan program facilitated during the September school holidays, from 19 to 21 September 2011. Noah Johnston, Brandon Acevedo, Bob Kendrell and Barry Hopf of QPEC, and Derek Beaut.

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