Date posted: 10/07/2019 8 min read

Fresh voices for the future

Indigenous Chartered Accountants Lana Chambers CA and Louise Joinbee CA are keen to show future graduates the benefits of the CA Program.

In brief

  • Two Indigenous women offer an authentic look at the benefits of the CA Program
  • They showcase the contrasts and similarities of the traditional high school study versus that of a mature student
  • There is the potential for CA graduates to mentor and empower their peers as they begin their studies

As Australia celebrates NAIDOC Week and the 2019 theme of “Voice. Treaty. Truth: Let’s work together for a shared future,” Louise Joinbee CA and Lana Chambers CA reflect on the educational experience that made them friends.

“I've always said all the way through my journey, it's about education and understanding,” says Louise. “Education is key to where we want to go in the future as a united country.” 

According to Lana, education is also key to showing the Aboriginal community where opportunity lies.

“Getting a university education and becoming a CA means we can both use our voices to give back to the community and help others,” says Lana. “I think we both have the passion and ability to do that.”

Discovering their passion

Growing up in Queensland as a proud Bidjara woman, Lana watched her mum establish herself as a financial adviser in the school system. It inspired Lana’s own interest in numbers, and later business. When she finished school, Lana worked in a factory and started a family, but after 10 years she wanted a career and started studying accounting.

“I got to the point where I wanted to do something to create a better life for me and my kids,” Lana says. “I started doing bookkeeping courses and then that turned into starting my accounting degree. After that, I jumped into the CA Program.” This has been a 10 year journey.

A proud Gunggandji woman from the Cairns and Yarrabah region, Louise knew early that she wanted a career in business. She had a passion for numbers at high school and was frustrated when she noticed several local businesses that struggled due to a lack of financial knowledge. 

Believing things would have been different had there been someone to guide them, Louise started studying accounting in the hopes of becoming a trusted community member and adviser to business.

“It was about wanting to help and provide people with the business acumen to be able to get to where they wanted to go,” Louise says.

Matt-Louise-Lana-Penny

[Left to right] Louise Joinbee CA, Penny Ellenger (Regional Manager Queensland, Chartered Accountants ANZ), Matthew Lancaster (Relationship Manager, Indigenous Accountants Australia) and Lana Chambers CA.

The beginning of their bond

Louise and Lana first crossed paths in 2014 through work. Bonding over their little kids and intense study schedules, the two were there for each other as they navigated the obstacle course that is work, study, motherhood and life.

After relocating to Toowoomba, Louise found herself dealing with family, study and self-doubt issues. She began questioning why she’d thought she was capable of juggling study with a new job, motherhood and returning to work.

At the same time, Lana was treading water in Toowoomba as a full-time student, employee, and single mum to a son and daughter busy with athletics, dance, gymnastics, and all the associated logistics.

“Doing parts of the CA Program together made us closer, we kept each other sane,” Louise says. “We've built a good friendship out of it, our kids play together. It's just been really good to have support.”

“It feels really good because it’s so hard to achieve. We’re proud of each other for opening up opportunities for ourselves.”
Lana Chambers CA Indigenous Chartered Accountant

Overcoming challenges

Nothing truly prepared them for the intensity of the CA Program, which they jokingly describe as university ‘supersized’. 

As an auditor, traveling regularly for extended periods and entrusted with training new recruits, Louise is thankful for her tight-knit team’s support and their flexibility to adapt her schedule to suit her evolving needs as a mother. She’s also thankful for the friends and family she has supporting her, a sentiment Lana shares.

“My own mum is always there telling me, “you can do more, you can go further, you can do whatever you set your mind to,” Louise says. “I think especially as mums, you kind of just do push through because you have to. It's definitely given me a lot more resilience and shown me I can cope with things.”

“I think also with any of our self-doubt we've sort of encouraged each other to do what we need to do,” Lana says. “Because we've got kids, we want to show them that if they want something, it's not just going to be handed to them, and there could be some hard work involved but it's worth it and they can do it. So I think we need to set that example.”

Lana’s role as a senior accountant is an advisory one, supporting both trainees and management. It follows a 5 years of working her way up through the ranks, pushing for promotions and backing herself, which Lana says was all worth it.

“It feels really good because it’s so hard to achieve,” she says. “We’re proud of each other for opening up opportunities for ourselves. Within the industry it’s a highly respected and prestigious qualification, so our colleagues and peers recognise what we’ve given of ourselves to get here.”

The future looks bright 

Both women say the end of their studies signifies the beginning of everything falling into place – a time to bask in the afterglow of their hard work.

They are now turning their attention to promoting the CA Program to high school and mature-age students. Both want to be a part of making mentoring accessible to Indigenous accountants and to impart their unique knowledge to graduates.

“I'm speaking for us both here, but we are really passionate about encouraging others to go for their dream,” Lana says. “To help make them aware of the opportunities that are available and the great outcomes they can achieve.” 

“I’ve always had a voice, but I think the CA Program has allowed me to project it further and reach more people,” Louise says.

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