5th September 2023
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Erin Woolford, I am a Kuyani-Arrernte woman who was born and raised on Barngarla country in a regional community in SA (Port Augusta). I have two adult sons who I adore Connor and Liam and I love to travel, play the guitar, and write songs. Fun fact, I recorded a song my father wrote about our Nanna Essie who was a part of the Stolen Generation ‘Canoes on the River of Tears’ and released it via Skinny Fish Music, the same recording label as Gurrumul Yunupingu. It’s a beautiful song, my father is a very talented lyricist.
Can you tell us about your business?
Ninti Kata loosely translated means intelligent mind (clever head) in Pitjantjatjara, which is a language within part of the western desert as I have family across the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, and it was the most spoken language where I grew up.
Ninti Kata is a boutique consultancy that specialises in First Nations Human Rights, Institutional Integrity, and large structural reform. It is 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and managed and I created the company so that I could be in control of where I invested my energy and time, and so that I could work exclusively on projects that align to my values and principles and create impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Currently, the work that I am leading and/or influencing spans across Voice, Culturally Legitimate Governance, Institutional Integrity and UNDRIP including embedding FPIC into financing practices. Its work I am super passionate about and feel privileged to be able to influence and reset the power imbalance regarding how corporate Australia interacts with our communities.
Industry do you operate in and for how long?
I am currently in professional services however the advice that I provide my clients draws on 25 years’ practical experience across the for-purpose, corporate, academic, Aboriginal community controlled, government and professional services sectors working within regional, remote, and metropolitan communities, including in senior executive roles.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced in business, and how did you overcome it?
I think there are two key lessons for me, the first is begin as you mean to go on, in terms of setting boundaries around work / life / community balance. There’s a school of thought that when you are building your own business its normal to work 20-hour days in the first few months – but what I have found, is that becomes expected and just over a year after launching Ninti Kata I am starting to now implement those boundaries.
The second is surround yourself with amazing inspirational people. As my Dad always said, if you’re the smartest person in the room – you’re in the wrong room. I love learning from people and growing and being inspired by what’s possible. I have amazing women around me who support me, give me great advice, fill my bucket and share opportunities. We share with each other all the time – whether that be our skills, our knowledge, or our clients! There’s so much to do in this space, and I love that collaborative approach vs. competitive mindsets that lock out diversity of thought.
Is there any other information or encouragement you would like to share with other Indigenous Women?
Take the time to celebrate your wins, no matter how small and forgive yourself for the time you spend on yourself and your business – because as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander woman, there will always be someone that needs you!