Much of Programmed’s planned maintenance and project work on Greater Western Water’s water and sewer networks is located near roads and pedestrian pathways.
When we need traffic management services to reduce the risk of harm around these areas – one of the contractors we work with is wholly indigenous owned and employed Larrakia Bilirra.
A Bit About Larrakia Bilirra
Managing Director Matt Stokes had a vision of creating a company with a welcoming and empowering work environment for Indigenous people. His long-term goal is to develop secure job opportunities, ensuring safety and stability.
Larrakia Bilirra offers infrastructure services that cover a range of civil services, including traffic management, drainage and road asphalting services. to government and private customers around Australia.
Matt shared the story behind Larrakia Bilirra and his experience working with Programmed.
What made you start Larrakia Bilirra?
I wanted to create something special that works across different aspects of the civil industry and provides options in employment for Aboriginal people.
What is your own background and connection to the local Indigenous community?
I’ve been living in Wadawurrung country since 2005 and have always been involved in the Aboriginal community here in Geelong. Playing AFL, you have a responsibility to give back to the community, and I was passionate about setting something up where I could create indigenous pathways for the community where I work.
How did you get connected with Programmed and Greater Western Water?
I reached out toProgrammed and told them my story, my vision and how I wanted to create opportunities for indigenous communities across the sector. I had experience in Regional Victoria and felt it was the right time for Larrakia Bilirra to expand into Metropolitan Melbourne.
Programmed provided advice and the process that I would need to step through. They supported my vision, and after a thorough procurement process, I was able to provide services for Greater Western Water. I’m currently exploring other options with Programmed.
I see this as a stepping-stone and a long-term partnership, and all of us are giving back to the community through Larrakia Bilirra.
What has the experience been like for you and your team in working with Programmed?
Programmed gave me an opportunity. I felt welcomed, and I’m learning but I wouldn’t be able to learn, grow a business and create career pathways without the opportunity.
What tips/insights would you provide for other Indigenous driven companies looking to do what you have done?
Do your research and build relationships with businesses that want to make a change for the better. Programmed was a business that wanted to know about me and my story first. From that first conversation, I knew it was a business that I wanted to partner with.
We had the same values and were culturally aligned. It’s a very challenging environment for indigenous companies to break in, but all I can say is back yourself.
What drives you towards your future plans with your business and the community?
The partnership between Larrakia Bilirra, Greater Western Water and Programmed is built on trust, and together we can make a change. I want to create career pathways, train and upskill indigenous people and give them an opportunity to succeed.
I want to expand across the Water and Civil Industry and continue supporting businesses like Programmed. Businesses that want to create change and provide diversity in the workplace.
Any parting words of wisdom to share?
Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to tell your story.
Here at Programmed, we are fortunate to have customers and an extensive network of fantastic vendor partners whose values align closely with ours.
Working alongside companies like Larrakia Bilirra, who share our commitment to diversity and increasing the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, is another step towards building strong relationships in the communities we serve.
Thank you, Matt, for sharing your story. We are looking forward to continuing our work alongside the Larrakia Bilirra team!