• Claudine Thornton

Title: From Crisis to Control – Working together with Milan Dhiiyaan

Milan Dhiiyaan was inundated with compounding financial issues that pushed the business to the brink of closure. Despite seeking help from various programs and services designed to support Indigenous businesses, Milan Dhiiyaan struggled to find an accountant who could resolve the issue - until they found Together Business.

About Milan Dhiiyaan

Milan Dhiiyaan is led by Wiradjuri/Wailwaan songwoman and senior cultural educator Nyimirr (Fleur Magick Dennis) and Wailwaan/Yuin songman and senior cultural educator Millmullian (Laurance Magick Dennis).

Milan Dhiiyaan, meaning ‘One Family,’ is a heart-led service, providing Aboriginal cultural immersion programs and experiences for schools, government, and non-government organisations throughout NSW and interstate. (FYI most of our work is not in our own Country as there is more money in the cities and that is mainly where we are employed – in cities)

Passionate about surviving culture, Milan Dhiiyaan’s goal is to offer long-term employment options for Aboriginal singers, dancers, and cultural practitioners to live and breathe culture as a sustainable livelihood.

“There is so much work to be done in cultural restoration and healing and this type of work rarely has ongoing paid employment, except in Indigenous businesses. So, we created a business that prioritised our culture and its survival.” – Nyimirr, Co-Owner Milan Dhiiyaan.

What brought Milan Dhiiyaan to Together Business

Currently structured as a partnership, Milan Dhiiyaan had been operating for six years with little business administration, finance, and accounting knowledge. Nyimirr recounts struggling to find help with understanding the business’ financials…

“We tried working with a few different bookkeepers and accountants and found that none were the right fit. I knew that I obviously needed to improve my knowledge in these key areas, so I also sought help from services designed to support Indigenous business. I attended a lot of workshops and completed numerous programs, but unfortunately, none of these helped me to understand our finances, complete bookkeeping correctly or find a reliable accountant.”

“Our financial problems got worse and worse, and it wasn’t long before we had racked up a debt with the ATO, were behind in our bookkeeping and up to our necks with problems that we had no idea how to solve. Not to mention we were smack bang in the middle of a pandemic!”

A chance phone call to Sarah Hyland of Together Business offered the relief Nyimirr needed.

“I’m sure Sarah could hear the fear in my voice. I was terrified that we could lose the business and I wasn’t sure if she could help. But Sarah made the time for us that week and she was calm, professional and explained everything in a way that I could easily understand.”

Crisis Management

To help Milan Dhiiyaan, Together Business took immediate steps to alleviate the financial strain with the ATO by arranging a payment plan for the existing tax debt and to avoid further consequences.

Additionally, Together Business resolved some of the financial knowledge gaps by sharing and teaching Milan Dhiiyaan about their finances.

To keep the business afloat during COVID-19, Together Business also assisted Milan Dhiiyaan in their application for the Government JobKeeper Payment.

“Sarah treated me like an equal and with respect, even when I didn’t understand a concept. She was patient and brought me along with her process, making sure I understood every step.”

Invested in Milan Dhiiyaan’s success

Now in a better financial position, Milan Dhiiyaan’s focus is on training and filling knowledge gaps. To assist, Together Business have offered Xero training and support and a review of Milan Dhiiyan’s business structure for long term success and sustainability.

“We’ve been so focused on cleaning up the mess and now we’re starting to feel in control of our finances. At some point, we hope to sit down with Sarah to assess our business model and identify the best business structure for us long term.”