Support for First Nations communities

Vehicle leasing is accelerating support for First Nations communities

24 August 2023 | 3 minute read

When Telstra’s fleet service managers met the proprietors of the First Nations fleet financing company, Kooya at the 2018 Supply Nation Connect event, the teams made such an impression on each other it wasn’t long before Kooya was leasing 20 Toyota LandCruisers to Telstra for our remote Western Australian operations.

“We were challenging the status quo, but we had no doubt that the relationship would prove just as durable as those hardworking LandCruisers,” says Telstra’s Fleet Service Delivery Manager, Steve Ellis.

Fast forward five years, and Telstra is now leasing over 1400 commercial vehicles – including trucks, cars, utes, and more of those ubiquitous LandCruisers – from Kooya Fleet Solutions, in a celebrated partnership that earlier this month was a finalist in Supply Nation’s 2023 Supplier Diversity Award for Partnership of the Year.

It’s testament to the principles behind the arrangement and has grown into a model of what’s possible when two companies genuinely trust each other and work to ensure the trust transcends geography, convention and challenges of a global pandemic.

“Telstra was one of our first big corporate customers that gave us the ability to grow with them, and this incremental growth allowed us to steadily expand our capabilities and diversify our scope of offering,” says Kooya’s founder and CEO, Sharna Collard.

Today, that diversification has led Kooya to introduce a novated leasing program for Telstra employees across Australia. This program enables staff to also lease their personal cars from Kooya – and simultaneously contribute to projects that are making a genuine difference in First Nations  communities.


Support that empowers

That support is provided by the Bibbulmun Fund, a community-based initiative established by Kooya and the First Nations owned workplace supplier, Kulbardi. Through this fund, Kooya allocates 5% of its net profits to projects that foster opportunities for local enterprises and entrepreneurial leadership within communities.

At present, the Fund is focused on a number of education programs that are helping promising Aboriginal students realise their potential – including a three-year scholarship program for LGBTIQ young people, an in-school STEM program for 150 high school students, and a national ‘business summer school’ for university entrants.

“The Bibbulmun fund is what gets me out of bed every single morning,” says Sharna Collard. “Knowing full well that what we do is contributing to long-term sustainable outcomes really resonates strongly with our staff and our customers.”

In July, the Bibbulmun Fund reached the remarkable milestone of donating its first $1 million to scholarships, schools and social development in remote communities, through direct donations from Kooya and Kulbardi.

Commercial capabilities

Telstra partnering with Kooya is not only building social resilience in communities, but growing Kooya’s commercial capabilities to expand its services in the competitive asset finance space.

In order to join our novated leasing panel last year, the company had to complete a number of “rigorous process steps”, says Steve Ellis, to fulfil Telstra’s stringent requirements on privacy and cybersecurity in dealing with employee information.

Telstra may be a large corporate, but it also has genuine intention to engage. Steve [Ellis] could have looked at this little opportunity to partner with us as quite challenging, but by providing us with this access to incremental growth, he gave us a unique opportunity to expand our business.

- Sharna Collard, CEO, Kooya Fleet Solutions

“We have some of the toughest cybersecurity requirements in the country and they aced it, which says a lot about their competence and commitment to go the extra mile,” says Steve. “This is a highly competitive field and Kooya is competing against some very well-established suppliers and winning.

“With the fantastic relationship we have, I’m confident we’ll be able to expand our relationship as Kooya becomes a nationwide leader in leasing and salary packaging. We’ve been an important part of their journey, and I couldn’t be prouder of the relationship we’ve developed together.”

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