Date posted: 27/05/2024 10 min read

Platform for change

Indigenous-developed software platform Weavr is designed to help businesses improve their commitment to First Nations employment, engagement and relationships. Its co-founders Natalia Florez CA and Kieran Shirey explain how the platform helps to plan and manage reconciliation strategies.

Quick take

  • Reconciliation strategies can promote respectful engagement with Indigenous Australians, boost their employment and foster opportunities for First Nations businesses, but they can be onerous to manage and hard to track.
  • Weavr is an Indigenous-developed software platform designed to help organisations to deliver on their reconciliation strategies.
  • Co-founders Kieran Shirey and Natalia Florez CA are exploring applications for the platform in the broader diversity and inclusion space.

By Susan Muldowney
Photography by Glenn Hunt

It’s easy for organisations to get lost along the pathway to reconciliation. Closing the gap for First Nations Australians requires more than good intentions, but there are barriers to embedding reconciliation into an organisation’s culture. Collecting data across multiple business units can be onerous and progress can be hard to measure, but Indigenous-developed software platform Weavr is designed to help organisations understand their impact by tracking, managing and sharing their reconciliation journey.

Created in 2021 by Kieran Shirey and Natalia Florez CA, Weavr is part of LOGiT Australia, the Brisbane-based First Nations software business they co-founded for asset management in 2016. Weavr currently works with more than 50 organisations – from large multinational companies to small not-for-profits – to increase data accuracy, identify weaknesses and boost the visibility of their reconciliation achievements.

“A lot of organisations have gone from just having a morning tea during NAIDOC Week to creating extremely complex reconciliation strategies in a very short period of time,” says Shirey, a Biripi man from the mid-north coast of NSW. “Many of them have struggled to really grasp the concept and to understand what they’ve achieved, what they’re just ticking off a list and where they need more focus. We’ve taken advice from reconciliation managers about some of the challenges they experience and have put this tool together to help them deliver on their strategies.”

Weavr co-founders Natalia Florez CA and Kieran ShireyPictured: Weavr co-founders Natalia Florez CA (left) and Kieran Shirey (right)

“A lot of organisations have gone from just having a morning tea during NAIDOC Week to creating extremely complex reconciliation strategies in a very short period of time.”
Kieran Shirey, Weavr

Closing the gap

While reconciliation remains unfinished business for Australia, more than 3000 organisations have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and many others have Indigenous engagement strategies as part of their commitment to closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These strategies can promote respectful engagement and help to level the playing field through creating First Nations employment and fostering opportunities for Indigenousowned businesses.

Weavr’s origins stem from a Queensland Government Advance Queensland small business initiative in 2020, when Australia’s science agency CSIRO, national apprenticeship network provider MEGT and Queensland’s Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport teamed up with LOGiT Australia to reimagine how organisations could best manage, track and report on their RAPs.

While CSIRO had developed its Indigenous Engagement Strategy in 2007 and its first RAP in 2016, it grappled with identifying opportunities and challenges in a timely way. Florez says this is a common challenge for RAP managers.

“When CSIRO, MEGT and the Queensland Government department came to us, they all had different reconciliation strategies, but they all had very similar challenges,” she says. “Large organisations can be very complex in the way they operate, and some of their [reconciliation] strategies can have more than 100 deliverables that they need to achieve, but they don’t have a clear way of going about it.”

A challenge, adds Florez, is that information is rarely centralised or collected thoroughly. “It’s hard for them to be proactive when they can’t identify opportunities and it’s difficult to work out where to spend their money and whether they are allocating enough or too much,” she says. “It’s also hard for them to learn from their successes, so that we can replicate the approach.”

How Weavr works

In 2021, LOGiT Australia was given funding under the Advance Queensland Deadly Innovation Strategy to develop Weavr.

Organisations upload their reconciliation commitments to the Weavr platform, along with timelines and stakeholders, and then work on the execution plan and implementation of various deliverables.

For example, if the strategy includes supporting First Nations procurement, companies can set deliverables such as increasing and diversifying their First Nations supplier spend within a timeframe and track the number that they have procured each month. Weavr sends progress prompts and emails to relevant business units to prevent action from stalling.

“We touch base with different members of the organisation at a set frequency, depending on their commitments,” says Florez. “As an example, if they planned to host a NAIDOC Week event as part of their commitment to building cultural capability, we would follow up with them through Weavr to ask, ‘how did you go with your event, how many people participated and how many Indigenous stakeholders did you have?’. For other commitments that require a change or review of policies to remove barriers for First Nations stakeholders, we would check in more often, as these things can be more complex.”

Weavr not only takes the heavy lifting from reconciliation managers, it also allows organisations to link reconciliation to their broader organisational values, Shirey says.

“Any organisation that takes anything seriously enough to make it a cross-business function needs a tool to facilitate the transfer of evidence and information,” he says. They also need to be able to aggregate it and present it in a meaningful way, so insights can be gathered and evidence-based informed decisions can be made.

From our experience of working with software companies that provide holistic solutions, we knew that we needed to replicate that recipe in the reconciliation and social impact space.”

Weavr co-founders Natalia Florez CA and Kieran ShireyPictured: Weavr co-founders Kieran Shirey (left) and Natalia Florez CA (right)

Combining forces

Shirey credits his mother for his successful career in technology. He grew up on the Purfleet Mission near Taree in NSW and says his mother made sacrifices to create opportunities for him that were out of reach for many Indigenous kids in his community.

“She wanted to get me off the mission because she saw that things weren’t improving on the mish,” says Shirey. “It wasn’t easy, but she never gave up.”

After moving to Canberra, he began working as a labourer, but says the cold winters helped to change his ambitions.

“I was good with my hands, but I got tired of freezing outside in the early morning, so I got an office job and started going to a library to learn about the internet, because I didn’t have my own computer,” he says. “I began seeing the world through a different lens and then got an opportunity to work in a government department that took me into their asset information section.”

Shirey went on to work as a technical consultant for an international software company. After years of travelling the globe with work, he moved to Melbourne to work for an asset management consultancy, which is where he met Florez.

Florez moved to Australia from Colombia almost two decades ago to study English. Despite a background in engineering, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Business, majoring in accounting and finance.

“After studying in Australia, I fell in love with many things about the country and, after working in a few jobs, I realised that this is home,” she says.

More than words

Florez believes every organisation has a “superpower” that can be harnessed to promote reconciliation.

“For chartered accountants, for example, promoting financial literacy could be considered a superpower,” she says. “What can you do to build more financial literacy in your community? How can that be embedded into your organisational values? How can your reconciliation goals be aligned to your broader business goals, so that it doesn’t become an internal fight about whether it’s a cost centre or a profit centre?

“When it’s viewed this way, it becomes part of the executive and boardroom conversation to align these goals as closely as possible.”

The company has recently expanded its services to help organisations manage their reconciliation strategies with support from its team of facilitators, strategic planning assessors and data analysts.

“These strategies are challenging at all levels, because a lot of the time they’re poorly resourced, not only in funding but also in the number of staff required to carry it out effectively. But we’re always here with them,” says Shirey.

Weavr is also expanding its platform to help organisations to meet their broader social impact goals. “From day one, everyone who saw the product knew that it could help organisations manage more than their reconciliation strategies,” says Florez.

“There is often a correlation between the kind of projects that contribute to a reconciliation strategy as well as a gender balance strategy, for example. We are going down the path with a couple of organisations to develop a proof of concept before we can release it to the wider market.

“There’s not an equivalent offering in the diversity and inclusion space, because not only do we have great software, we also have a great team that’s here to provide support,” adds Florez.

“This helps organisations to get value from their reconciliation and diversity and inclusion initiatives. It needs to be more than a feel-good exercise.”

Bio in brief

Kieran Shirey

Kieran Shirey 

Shirey is a proud Biripi man who is passionate about developing and implementing business information management systems that identify and remove obstacles for positive change in our communities. A co-founder of LOGiT and its Weavr platform, he has worked in the technology sector for more than 20 years.

Natalia Florez CA

Natalia Florez CA 

Florez hails from Colombia, where she completed a degree in engineering. After moving to Australia almost two decades ago, she completed a Bachelor of Business, Finance and Accounting and has held a number of senior finance roles, including CFO of engineering document management company RedEye. With Shirey, she is co-founder of LOGiT and its Weavr platform. Florez is also a member of the CA ANZ Corporate Advisory Panel.