Canberra-based IT hardware and software provider Kirra Services is passionately driving Indigenous representation among the IT industry, making a significant stamp on government agencies along the way.
The company was founded in 2017 by proud Bundjalung man Brad Nagle. Since then, the company has grown to 18 staff.
The company’s namesake ‘Kirra’ is reflective of the beach location in Queensland where Nagle’s grandfather spent time, and also means ‘leaf’ in the local language -- displaying an important connection to the land and country.
Kirra specialises in providing hardware, software, procurement, recruitment services and office equipment. The company recently established a new partnership with Konica Minolta, adding managed print services to its portfolio and running workshops around Indigenous engagement.
“We’ve experienced really quick growth and it’s been quite a learning curve,” Nagle said. “One of the early lessons I learnt was around selecting partners that didn’t align with our core values and doing our due diligence was a big lesson there.”
Kirra generally deals with federal government departments under the Indigenous procurement policy, with Nagle saying it was proving to show its capabilities to deliver in a competitive field.
Recently, Kirra completed a project with the Department of Education involving the rollout of more than 4,000 laptops, including services and disposals.
“One of the things that people think about being an Indigenous business is that we’re just handed opportunities, and it’s very much not the case," he said. "We’re working for those opportunities and the deals that we’ve had, and we’ve shown we’re more than capable of achieving our targets.”
Nagle said there was increasing demand for all types of IT positions as cloud and software services continue to ramp up.
“We’re seeing a lot of traction in areas such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, CRM [customer relationship management], cyber security and network engineering, with a lot of demand coming from the government sector,” he said.
Giving back to the community is a passionate pursuit for Nagle, who is currently based in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, where he has also struck a deal with the local Gapuwiyak School and is heavily involved with the local clinic and arts centre as an avenue to gain some grassroots information on what’s happening and where it can help in the community.
Kirra is also part of a program that helps provide mentorship for incarcerated women in Queensland.
“We’re always looking for opportunities where we can be involved,” he said.
Setting up a traineeship program in tandem with other Indigenous businesses in Canberra is also high on the agenda for Kirra Services this year, with the program to be run by the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) and set to offer students mentorships and access to employers.
CIT is currently recruiting participants for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Digital Literacy Program, which aims to upskill the participants and create a pathway to long term employment. The training is due to commence on the 4 May 2021 at the Yurauna Centre, located at the CIT Reid Campus.
“There’s a number of training programs out there for the Indigenous community, which usually run for four to six weeks, with nothing at the end,” he said. “Along with other Indigenous businesses, we’re looking to establish a training program with a real opportunity attached at the end.
“We know there is a genuine need for this and we’re aware there are other IT companies doing the same thing, but I think the more people that get involved, the more visibility there is. It’s something that we’re keen to get moving and we’re trying everything we can to get it underway.”
Garth Morrison joined Kirra about seven months ago, making his first foray back into the IT industry after trying out the hospitality sector. His advice to companies that are keen on ‘giving back’ to the community is to really think about legacy.
“If you’re an organisation looking to contribute to any Indigenous community or any other type of community, don’t just give them a bunch of laptops,” he said. “Give them something they can use, make sure there’s an operating system on it and see what sort of tools they need on those laptops. If they’re an education organisation -- do they need learning software? Or Microsoft Office. If they're a medical centre, do they need access to certain platforms?
“What we tend to find sometimes is that organisations give things to the community, and that’s great, but are they useful?”