Byron Davis presenting

As a teen, Byron Davis gained first-hand experience with racism and discrimination and says he knew then that he wanted to play a role in improving outcomes for fellow Indigenous Australians. 

Byron's current role as Deputy Project Manager in Ventia's Indigenous Employment team - known as TRECCA - has given him the opportunity to travel around Australia and educate employees and leaders on how to build an inclusive organisation that supports and embraces the talents of all our employees.


Striving to educate and eliminate the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

Established in 2015, the TRECCA team strives to eliminate the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Byron says they're also there to provide the support that these employees need to stay in employment and achieve longer sustainable outcomes.

Tertiary qualifications for Indigenous Australians in the 1990s were not common, and Byron says it was a cultural shock for him when he first arrived on campus for his undergraduate degree. 

Growing up in Mt Isa, the big smoke of Brisbane was a huge change," he says.

However, he was determined to persevere through what was a turbulent era for Indigenous Australians, particularly with the Mabo decision in 1992, and the Native Title Act 1993 being passed through parliament the following year.

Byron went on to complete tertiary level certifications including a Bachelor of Arts Degree (University of Queensland), Graduate Diploma in Management (Northern Territory University) and a Masters in Social Science (Criminology) through Charles Sturt University. 

Byron says it was a privilege for him to be able to share his journey and his culture through the work he did while with the NSW Police Service as a Criminologist, and then later as the Director of Aboriginal education with the University of New England (UNE). 

Byron later won the Australian Government Universities Award for the creation of TRACKS UNE which was recognised in the Prime Minister's Awards in 2001 for innovative educational approaches. 

His work has also addressed human rights globally for Indigenous Australians when he was the recipient of Canadian Government Academic Fellowship. Through this, he delivered academic lectures in Ontario, Canada at Laurentian University.  He was also an advocate to the Asia Pacific Human Rights Commission in Thailand, as an Australian Indigenous academic presenting on Indigenous human rights in Australia. 

Back in Australia, following several years working for Batchelor Institute as Deputy Director in the Northern Territory, the only First Nations tertiary education provider in Australia, Byron said that hands-on experience gave him the confidence to run his own registered training organisation. 

Byron lighting a camp fire


When Byron created his own RTO, he focused initially on security courses, for which he had contracts with the Department of Defence. When he added fitness courses to the curriculum, he also opened a gym to support students in their training. 

Bringing those valuable experiences and education with him, Byron says when he joined Ventia five years ago, the Indigenous Employment team were all new to the business and it was a great opportunity for them all to figure out how they could build Indigenous engagement and training capability in the organisation. 

One of my favourite site visits recently was a trip I took to meet the Venture Smart team in our Transport business," Byron says.

"After I'd spoken to the team, a group of Aboriginal employees came over to chat to me about all the things we're doing across Ventia. They were excited to hear what was going on and to share their stories."


Awarded for a positive and noticeable impact

Byron's own talents have been recognised by AMMA in their 2021 Industry Awards, as he received this year's Industry Future Leader award. 

This award recognised an individual who has had a positive and noticeable impact on workforce culture, processes and practices within their organisation. 

Byron receiving his award


Project Manager for TRECCA, and Byron's boss, Steve Mitchell says the award is well deserved and that he has a lot of respect for what Byron does. 

"Byron has the weight of community expectations on his shoulder at times, and whilst that presents a great opportunity for him, it's also a lot of pressure," Steve says. "But his focus is always on how to get others to approach situations with empathy."

Byron thinks deeply about how to change mindsets and is always encouraging non-Indigenous colleagues to invest time into connecting with their Indigenous employees and learn more about their culture.

Ultimately, that's what will move the dial when it comes to Indigenous engagement Byron says - connecting, sharing stories and building relationships.

"It's so important to develop and maintain connections as we seek to close the gap in Australia," he says. "There is power in connecting."


Byron at sunset at a beach