Cargo ship

Queensland will be the first state in the Australian Export Award program to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in a dedicated award category.

The First Nations category will contribute to improved outcomes for Indigenous businesses and provides direct recognition from highly regarded industry leaders and experts from around the country.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there are up to 16,000 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander-led businesses across the country.

The First Nations category finalists and winners will be promoted nationally and around the world, providing an opportunity for further development and growth within their chosen export pathways.

Quotes attributable to Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, Cameron Dick:

“I’m proud that Queensland is leading the country in recognising the great achievements of First Nations businesses,” he said.

“Queensland boasts a rich cultural diversity and heritage. Some of the best businesses in the state are from our First Nations peoples.

“We will shine the spotlight on their creativity, ingenuity and perseverance, celebrating their success and connecting them to international markets.”

Quotes attributable to Founder of Mainie Australia, Charmaine Saunders:

“Indigenous exporters represent the oldest living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the world’s stage, and they are central to the identity of all Queenslanders,” she said.

“First Nations businesses have had to overcome challenges to innovate and break into international markets, often in difficult conditions.

“I encourage all Indigenous led businesses and communities to take the time to enter these awards.”

Further information:

The Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards have been running for 33 years and recognise the creativity, innovation, determination and continuing success of Queensland’s $145 billion export industry. 

Queensland companies can apply in 13 national categories and three state-based categories from agribusiness to creative industries, with applications closing on 9 June.

Judging is by a panel of experienced business leaders from across industry, with winners named at an Awards Gala in Brisbane in October.

Queensland national category winners go on to represent the state at the national export awards in November.

Charmaine Saunders is Founder of Mainie Australia. A descendant of the Gunggari Aboriginal people from the Maranoa River region of South Western Queensland.

Mainie Australia is an Indigenous owned and operated fashion and gift company, specialising in distinctively handcrafted scarves, kaftans, art and décor.

The company’s products were featured in the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Further details on the awards can be found at