Growing up and where it started

Activism is in her roots. "I was born with fire in my belly," she says, describing her family as "very much on the frontline during the 1960s". Mundanara grew up in Redfern for the most part, which is where her mother and father met at the height of the black civil rights movement. Protests, gatherings and community meetings were the norm for Mundanara and her siblings. And many of those meetings took place at Radio Redfern, a community broadcasting station for which Maureen Watson, Mundanara’s grandmother, and Tiga Bayles, her father, laid the foundations.

"It all started at Radio Redfern with my beautiful grandmother, the late Maureen Watson, who taught my dad everything. That’s where it all stems from, in terms of my family being in the media," says Mundanara.

Navigating business and leadership for Mundanara has largely been shaped by her family’s history and involvement in the media – and what continues to propel her forward is the inspiration and matriarchal wisdom of her grandmother. "My grandmother, she was a trailblazer. She had this way about her where she could hold a room." Maureen was a performer, poet, an actor and an activist. And importantly, she was a role model that young Mundanara could learn from and see some of herself in.

Mundanara shares a few key memories of what growing up in a politically active family was like. Perhaps the most poignant is of five-year-old Mundanara watching her father broadcasting live on Radio Redfern as he walked the streets with what she thought was "a massive walkie-talkie". He was sharing news about the different mobs arriving to the area, from all over Australia, to support the local community and be part of the Black Power movement – he was keeping the community connected.

"He did it all with no money. No funding, no salary, nothing. It was all voluntary and he was sharing information for our people through the mainstream radio channels for the first time in our history."

Creating her own legacy

BlakCast is Australia’s first podcast network owned and led by First Nations people, supported by a partnership with iHeart. Like her grandmother and father, she’s determined to tell Aboriginal stories and give other First Nations people a platform to share theirs. Mundanara is using podcasting as a vehicle for change.

"Starting a network was first and foremost to make sure that that First Nations voices are front and centre, that we have 100% control over our narrative, our stories," says Mundanara. It’s the acute underrepresentation of black voices and experiences on mainstream radio that drove her to start BlakCast – to get stories out to the broader community.

"It's so important that as Aboriginal people, we try to educate other Australians about our culture. How we see the world, our experiences, our challenges, our successes. In our culture, we act for the collective. It’s always about benefiting the collective, not just the individual."

Podcasting to amplify reach

It's not just her upbringing and family roots that qualify Mundanara as a media expert. Prior to launching BlakCast, Mundanara made history with her podcast Black Magic Woman when it became the first Indigenous show to join the iHeart podcast network. She’s also a TEDx speaker and frequently features on panels and speaks at events across the country.

Through her other business BlackCard, a specialist consultancy providing cultural capability training, Mundanara helps enable people and organisations to work effectively with the Aboriginal community. From this, podcasting was a natural progression.

"People don't know who we are. Most of Australia hasn't taken the time to get to know Aboriginal people, to come into our families, our communities, to do business with us. But if we can get stories out to the broader community, then reconciliation is achievable. Through podcasts, we're hoping that we build this bridge or can create opportunities for people to get to know us, even without meeting us."

Who BlakCast is for

BlakCast is committed to uplifting emerging Aboriginal voices, but also those of other minority groups – especially women. "Nearly every podcast on the network is female-led. Women are the strength of Aboriginal culture. We are the backbones of our communities and families, and we hold them together."

Mundanara says there were very few Aboriginal women in business to look up to when she was growing up, but that seems to be changing. "In the last ten years, I've seen more Aboriginal women starting their own business, but I want to see that number grow". Giving back to the community is a non-negotiable, so she prioritises a few hours each week for mentoring others. "I make sure people know that I'm approachable, especially Aboriginal women and girls, so they know they can reach out to me and I'll respond."

For aspiring podcasters, Mundanara urges them to visit the BlakCast website and submit a contact form. "If you've got something already recorded, whether you've released it or not, share it with us. We’ll audit it for free and give you feedback. If you're not there yet, if you haven't had the resources and the support to record a show, then send us a message," she says.

What success looks like

Mundanara believes the sharing of genius of Aboriginal knowledge benefits all Australians. "We didn’t make it this far by accident," she says. "We want our future generations to inherit a healthy planet, so they have access to clean air and clean water. Aboriginal knowledge will ensure that our history in this country stretches as far in front of us as it does behind us."

Reconciliation and true inclusivity depend on each of us to do our part. "Go and actively look for Indigenous businesses and look beyond the media that lands in your lap," says Mundanara. "Listening to others, being kind and forcing ourselves to be curious, even if it’s uncomfortable at first," she says, are critical for our collective future. No matter where you’re starting from, BlakCast has stories and new perspectives for you to explore.