Griffith University's 2020 Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus
Bachelor of Leisure Management
Cameron Costello is a Quandamooka man from Moreton Bay, South East Queensland. He has dedicated his professional life to advocating for and supporting the rights of First Peoples. He has spent over fifteen years working in local and state governments, delivering First Nation policies and programs, including the Backing Indigenous Arts Program and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.
His career has been dedicated solely to roles which support First Peoples including:
- Queensland Government Program Manager: Backing Indigenous Arts
- Fieldworx Consultant: Assessment of the social and cultural impact on remote Indigenous communities
- Cairns Indigenous Art Fair: Board Member
Closely aligned with Griffith University's values, Cameron recognises our First Peoples and enables their continued contribution to the nation and encourages a robust, equitable and environmentally sustainable society.
He is now the CEO of the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), a Registered Prescribed Body Corporation (PBC) created under the Native Title Act 1993, to manage the recognised Native Title rights and interests of the Quandamooka People following the determination, 4th of July 2011.
"Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is part of my identity. The land is who we are.
"To me this is a major part of my identity as it's where my father was born and raised, and where my grandparents are from. It's a cultural and wildlife sanctuary," Cameron said.
His role is hugely varied and his overarching responsibility lies with facilitating QYAC’s vision for a Gudjundabu Marumba Gubiyiyanya (Tourism for a Glad Tomorrow), while concomitantly ensuring sustainable economic development. Cameron’s stellar leadership has taken QYAC from being passive observers of tourism on Minjerribah, to being the key tourism operator in whale interpretation, eco-tourism, holiday accommodation, Traditional Owner Ranger development, hospitality education, native bee honey products, world heritage listing and inclusion in Great Walks.
"When we were forming, we had a whole range of governance and capacity building to do. Tourism was a great opportunity to look at ecologically and culturally sustainable industry and it suited our ethos and our values as Aboriginal people. We could have people experience tourism and adventure without damaging the environment.
"We're now responsible for managing all the tourists coming to the island (North Stradbroke), with the majority staying at over a thousand campsites across the island. We manage the 4WD permitting and with the National Parks and emergency services, making sure everyone has a safe and happy time," Cameron said.
Under Cameron's guidance, within only 5 years, the QYAC was able to let go of financial support received by Indigenous Business Australia. The now established corporation is not only self-sufficient financially, but it yields extensive employment opportunities for Cameron's mob, with over half of the QYAC staff base being Quandamooka people.
"This is a major achievement for us. Our mob is actively out there caring for country which is a dream job - having a cultural obligation as part of your every day. They are out there everyday experiencing the country and ensuring that it's sustainable for our children's children," Cameron said.
Cameron’s significant contributions to First Nations people and the tourism sector, inspires both Indigenous and non-indigenous people and Cameron best sums up his inspirational leadership, his devotion to community, his commitment to First Peoples when he says:
“I am passionate about inspiring others, using entrepreneurial skills to enrich the lives of the next generation, empowering them to become advocates and carers of Country, keeping culture strong and working together toward a bright tomorrow.
"I see the partnership between The Moreton Bay Foundation and QYAC as an opportunity to collaboratively protect the natural biodiversity and aesthetic beauty of Country, in a way that respects our Indigenous culture and heritage,” he said.
Cameron’s commitment to achieving his goals, coupled with his integrity, communication skills, entrepreneurial mindset and his capacity to create sustainable and capacity-building outcomes for Quandamooka People, has resulted in QYAC achieving strong, sustainable and culturally appropriate socio-economic development.
It has also seen him awarded as the Griffith Business School's 2020 Outstanding First Peoples Alumnus award winner.
Cameron builds capacity, creates economic investment and positive financial outcomes and remains firmly optimistic about the future.
"The future for the Quandamooka people is extremely bright."