RISE Ventures is celebrating two local Indigenous men stepping up to lead the RISE Kowanyama team.
In the middle of 2023, Cameron Josiah was promoted to Business Manager and Justin Lawerence was promoted to Community Project Coordinator.
Read the impressive stories of how Cameron and Justin have grown from young men to local leaders, with plenty of adventures in between!
Justin Lawerence is a proud Kunjen and Olkola man, a Traditional Owner in Kowanyama and has lived his whole life in Cape York, North Queensland.
He spent his childhood in Kowanyama, learnt English at school and then left in year 8, when he was 14 years old.
A year later, he started a job breaking in horses and working on cattle stations with his father.
He then had the opportunity to become a qualified bricklayer and spent years proudly mastering his trade. Nine years ago, injuries to his back and shoulders meant he had to give up bricklaying.
That’s when he came to talk to RISE Ventures in Kowanyama.
Cameron Josiah, our now Business Manager, was an employment consultant at the time and recognised the skills and potential in Justin.
RISE offered him a role as a Supervisor in our Men’s Shed. Justin’s responsibilities included leading our men’s group in community and building projects, organising attendance at trainings and supporting the guys to get ready for employment.
During his time as a supervisor, he built up his skills managing projects and being a leader. He’s also had the opportunity to do work with our partners at the Council and local PBC around the town and on the roads.
In July 2023, RISE Ventures proudly offered Justin a promotion to the Community Project Coordinator role.
The Community Project Coordinator is responsible for the coordination of our codesigned ‘Community Land and Sea Projects’ for Kowanyama. Justin is currently overseeing the Kowanyama Farm Project which has been designed in consultation with Abm Elgoring Ambung Aboriginal Corporation. Justin oversees the purchasing, workplace health and safety, and resourcing for this project.
In this role, Justin manages four supervisors and eight employees. He has also made the move into the office and is looking forward to upskilling in computers and systems.
“I’m up for the challenge and I’m happy to be in this position. It’s a whole new ball of wax but I’ve got the willingness to learn. I want to be a role model for future generations.”
Justin wants his community to know that there are opportunities for people who are struggling.
“If you don’t get your education, there’s still opportunities. You need to get out there and make the best of it!”
Justin has already impressed our leadership team with his eagerness to learn, step up as a leader and do things outside his comfort zone.
He is being mentored by Megan and Glenn Logan and Leah Simmons, who have a combined experience of 42 years of delivery of community development in remote areas across QLD and the NT.
“I’m stoked, the opportunity has come at the right time. I want to the role model we need.”
Cameron Josiah has already lived a life full of achievements and breaking barriers, and he’s got even bigger ambitions for the years to come!
Cameron, a proud Kokomenjena and Yir Yorant man, is a Kowanyama local through and through. Growing up in “Kowie” has fuelled his commitment to give back to the town and people he loves so much.
A talented sportsman, Cameron first big opportunity came in the form of AFL and an influential mentor who was running a program in schools. This mentor recognising and developing his potential throughout his high school years gave Cameron a ticket to a professional AFL career.
He moved to Cairns and then Brisbane, training and playing there for four years. His proudest achievements are making a Queensland side, trialling at a State Screening and getting to play footy at The Gabba.
Cameron then moved into AFL development and landed a job as an AFL Development Officer in Cairns. His role involved travelling to remote communities and running AFL activities in schools. It was a full-circle moment – giving North QLD kids the opportunity that he was given – and sparked his desire to give back to his community.
After moving back to Kowanyama and finishing role at the PCYC, Cameron found himself unemployed in 2014.
That’s when he came to RISE Kowanyama for assistance. After hearing his experience, the Business Manager at the time offered him a role with RISE on the spot.
Cameron wasn’t sure what it involved but was eager to start working, wanted to “take his chance” and had confidence he could learn on the job.
Taking this opportunity has paid off. Since then, Cameron has worked as a Service Coordinator and Project Coordinator before a new opportunity came knocking this year.
RISE Ventures is evolving to better serve the communities we work in and Megan Logan, the Business Manager at the time, was preparing to move into a new position as Enterprise Development Manager.
When asked what his ambitions were by CEO Paul Synnott, Cameron shared his goal of one day being Business Manager. Little did he know, that day was closer than he thought!
A few months before handover, Cameron’s training begun with Megan and Paul preparing him for the step up in tasks, responsibilities and managing a team.
In May this year, Megan handed over the reins and Cameron became the first local Indigenous person to lead RISE Ventures Kowanyama. A proud moment for both Cameron and his community!
A local person in a senior management position is not only an inspiring role model, but they also allow RISE Ventures to have deeper connections with the communities we work in.
Having been in the role for 5-months now, Cameron has grabbed it with both hands and is continuing to develop his aptitude as a manager. The RISE Leadership team is mentoring Cameron as he grows into the Business Manger role and can see the positive impact he’s having on the community.
Cameron is also part of the RISE-Up Bounce ‘Coaching Skills for Leaders’ program, a 14-month a professional development certificate teaching leaders coaching skills to take themselves and their teams to the next level.
Motivated by his local people, Cameron wants to make a difference to their lives and build pride in his community.
“I enjoy coming to work knowing that I’m helping my people. That the biggest reason why I’m doing the work that I am doing now – I’m trying to make a difference for my people in my community.”
Working For Our Team
As an organisation, RISE Ventures is committed to building the leadership skills of our local staff and mentoring them throughout their careers with us.
We look forward to celebrating more stories of our Indigenous team members reaching their careers aspirations and being outstanding role models in their communities.