Canberra’s top native businesswoman says we can control our destiny

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Melissa Lacey

Melissa Lacey, Canberra’s Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year for 2021. Photo: Provided.

Be resilient, persevere, learn, grow and accept challenges as they arise – that’s the message of Melissa Lacey, Canberra’s Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year.

Melissa, founder of ACT’s only all-female Indigenous information and communications technology (ICT) and recruitment company Point River Networks (PRN), received this award at the 2021 Rubik3 Canberra Women in Business Awards.

One of the highlights of the awards night was receiving the title from Aunt Violet Sheridan, who also presented the event’s Certificate of Appreciation to the Country.

A proud Wiradjuri woman born and raised in Canberra, Melissa is rewarded for her tireless work providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“It’s really great to be acknowledged for all the hard work [co-founder] “Sally Cumper and I put Point River Networks in business,” he says.

“Winning these awards recognizes the importance of Closing the Gap with a particular focus on employment, education, ICT and STEM. [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].

“It also demonstrates that in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, women are strong leaders and entrepreneurs who care about and control our destiny.

“The PRN story, our hard work and determination, I hope inspire young Indigenous women to become confident and start their own businesses.”

The Point River Networks business name derives from Darlington Point, NSW, where Melissa’s mother, grandparents, and great-grandparents grew up.

Melissa can trace her legacy to the Warangesda Aboriginal Mission and recalls her trips to Darlington Point with her brother and sister to be with her grandparents and extended family.

The river reference is the Murrumbidgee River, which flows through Darlington Point and crosses the post.

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“The river represents our journey that started and built our business, building our capacity, knowledge and experience, and delivering exceptional solutions that are constantly evolving for our customers,” says Melissa.

He says the river also represents the flow of information between the company and its customers.

Melissa says there are many opportunities for young Indigenous women in business, especially in Canberra.

“In my experience, Indigenous women have a particularly important role in commerce, starting and growing a business, bringing unique perspectives and creating pathways for daughters, sisters, aunts and mothers to follow,” she says.

“While PRN’s mission is to support Indigenous people’s paths into the ICT sector and cybersecurity, there are many opportunities to get involved in many areas.

“If you have an idea you’re passionate about, write it down. Our gang has always had a strong and vibrant culture and we have lots of ideas we can leverage.”

Melissa says it’s important for young women to find a mentor, teacher or leader who can “empower you and support your journey.”

He attributes his success today to the “amazing” role models and mentors he had in the early years of his life.

“My mother, Lorraine, who was brave, tough and daring, told me I could be anyone I wanted my whole life to be,” Melissa says.

“My sister, Alison, is an inspiring, driven, and talented top 10 runner in the American WNBA. My good friend and business partner, Sally Cumper, is always there to support me. She’s a business-rich confidant.

“Professor Tracey at the university encouraged me in this and was instrumental in completing my degree. In my professional career, Ms. Carlyn Waters has shown me how inspiring and influential a leader can be.

“I am proud to be in a position with Point River Networks where I can provide guidance and leadership to Indigenous Australians.”

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