Over two days in early November, and with an itinerary based around the launch and world premiere of Circa Cairns’ From Old Things, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff visited Cairns to meet with several current grant recipients and learn a little more about the for-purpose ecology in the region.

The trip started with a morning visit to the Department of Education, before heading to Bulmba-ja Arts Centre to meet JUTE Theatre Company’s Chair Gillian Townsend, Artistic Director and CEO Suellen Maunder, and the whole office staff. The TFFF has been supporting JUTE’s Dare to Dream touring program since its pilot in 2016, and it was a welcome opportunity to reflect on the growth and success of the program over the past seven years.

After lunch, we ventured up to Kuranda to Youth Link’s drop-in centre which runs the TFFF-funded ‘Youth Cre8’ program. With operations impacted by COVID earlier in the year, it was wonderful to see the centre alive with young people and activity again — after even a quick visit it was apparent that Youth Link continues to play an important role in the remote community.

In August this year, TFFF was proud to approve three-year pilot funding for Queensland’s world-renowned Circa Contemporary Circus, to launch a First Nations-led regional imprint of the company called Circa Cairns. The evening of 2 November 2022 marked the official in-person launch of Circa Cairns and the world premiere of its inaugural production From Old Things, the invention of Creative Lead Harley Mann (Wakka Wakka) and Circa Cairns ensemble artists Ally Humphris, Crystal Stacey and Margot Mansfield. TFFF was touched to be acknowledged as part of the Welcome to Country and extends our thanks the Traditional Custodians of Gimuy (Cairns) and Circa Cairns for their hospitality.

The Circa Cairns ensemble’s opening performance of ‘From Old Things’ at Bulmba-ja Art Centre. Photo by Veronica Sagredo.

Day two began with a drive along the coastline to Wangetti Beach, where Cape York Girl Academy is located. A previous grant recipient of Ningana Trust, the Academy is Australia’s first boarding high school designed for young Indigenous mothers and their babies to live and learn together. It is an initiative of Cape York Partnership, which has 10 entities working on the ground in the Cape and Cairns to empower First Nations families and communities to break the cycle of disadvantage. Over tea and coffee served by students completing hospitality training, CEO Fiona Jose explained the Partnership’s strategy to create an ecosystem that ensures Indigenous young people have a life of opportunity to look forward to.

TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff with the young women of Cape York Girl Academy and staff from Cape York Partnership. Photo courtesy of Cape York Partnership.

TFFF’s last meeting was with Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth-led not-for-profit with a mission to inspire, equip and empower young people to take action and change the world.

As our final intra-state visit for 2022, it was a pleasure to spend time in the tropics, reconnect with organisations that we share a rich history with, and make some new and inspiring connections.

Each year at the start of August, Darwin becomes the focal point for Australia’s best First Nations artists from a variety of disciplines. The opening weeks of August are host to the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF)National Indigenous Fashion Awards, the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs)Darwin Festival, and Telstra’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAAs) housed at the Museum and Art Gallery NT (MAGNT). It’s a remarkable time to be in the Top End and presented an opportune moment for the TFFF to visit the city and take in these important events in Australia’s cultural calendar.

Having postponed this visit last year due to a COVID outbreak, Tim, Gina, Lucy, Neal, and Hannah were pleased to make the trip in 2022. It’s hard to overstate the cultural and economic impact that this critical mass of activity has for Darwin and the flow on benefits back to remote and regional Indigenous communities.

The DAAF team delivered an impressive feat this year — returning to an in-person delivery of the three-day event whilst continuing to offer the online marketplace which exploded with popularity in 2020 and 2021. As a partner of DAAF for several years, it was an occasion to finally be on the ground experiencing the flurry of activity in the Convention Centre, and reconnecting with many Art Centres that TFFF has supported or is currently funding, including Milingimbi Art and Culture, Ngaruwanajirri, Bábbarra Women’s Centre and Bindi Mwerre Anthu Artists.

TFFF congratulates DAAF for curating a fantastic program while continuing to grow the Fair each year (over 70 Art Centres participated in 2022), always conscious of providing the best experience for Indigenous Art Centres and Fair attendees. The TFFF team certainly returned home with heavier suitcases and over-flowing carry-on luggage.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2022. Photo credit: Dylan Buckee.

The opportunity to meet with Darwin Festival’s outgoing and incoming Artistic Directors was a welcome one. Felix Preval leaves after six years and hands the baton on to Kate Fell now, formerly of Brisbane Festival. It was great to celebrate Felix’s success and learn a little bit about Kate’s vision for the Festival’s future. We also attend two shows in the Festival program, Wana: Spirit a collaboration between NT Dance Company and Darwin Symphony Orchestra, and Raghav Handa’s TWO a piece of contemporary Indian Kathak, presented at Browns Mart Theatre. 

Our travelling party attended a panel hosted by Agency, which gave us an insight into the key issues facing Aboriginal Art Centres in remote and regional areas. It was important to hear from community leaders and Elders about their cultural leadership practices and, in their own words, what they most want for their communities and artists.

At various stages of the weekend, we were joined by sector colleagues who were also visiting Darwin including Charlie Cush and Louise Bezzina from Brisbane Festival, Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey from Aboriginal Art Co, Fiona Menzies and Jayne Lovelock from Creative Partnerships Australia, and Erin Lew Fatt a current Australian Rural Leadership Program scholarship recipient. Each of our colleagues added interesting and valuable insight to our experience and it was a good reminder of the collegiate and informed nature of the Australian arts sector.

Thank you to both Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Darwin Festival for hosting the TFFF during our time in Darwin, and for making our visit both enjoyable and educational.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) has been a supporter of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s (ARLF) Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) for many years now, typically sponsoring two scholarships annually.

The ARLP is Australia’s longest and most in-depth experiential leadership development program giving participants a valuable opportunity to grow their leadership and create a network of change-makers to positively influence their organisations, industries, and communities across rural, regional and remote Australia.  The iconic 15-month leadership development course builds leadership capacity and instils a set of values-based practices for individuals committed and ready to respond to regional, rural and remote Australia’s most complex challenges and biggest opportunities.

Each year’s program of activities is delivered across four sessions that are tailored to the cohort by considering the participant group’s demographics, their individual leadership objectives and current issues and events affecting their communities. The ARLF Fellowship that follows provides invaluable opportunities to connect and work with a professional network of more than 2,000 peers across the country.

Applications are now open for the Australian Rural Leadership Program — Course 30, closing 5 August with the cohort announced in February 2023.

ARLP Course 29 participants attend their first program session in Darwin in June 2022. Photo courtesy ARLF.

The TFFF is currently supporting two community leaders working in rural, regional, and remote health services to participate in the ARLP Course 29 cohort which is well underway for 2022. If you’re interested in supporting an ARLP scholarship, there’s information available on the ARLF website.

Erin Lew Fatt

Erin Lew Fatt lives in Darwin where she is the Chief Operating Officer of the not-for-profit Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT). Her responsibilities include representing AMSANT and its members at a local, regional and national level. Erin has been involved in the Aboriginal health sector for over 20 years and believes that by developing her leadership capabilities she will have a greater impact in her work and community.

I am very passionate about advocacy and giving Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people a voice and being heard to make positive changes for our communities in the health and wellbeing space… Whilst I identify as an Aboriginal woman, I am also aware of my rich multicultural heritage through my bloodlines and that I am who I am because of my own experiences and upbringing. Working in Aboriginal health I have had the privilege to be amongst a diverse range of individuals and communities and learnt something from every one of them.”

Eugene Wong

Eugene Wong is the Director of Medical Services at Bundaberg Hospital where he is responsible for supporting front line staff. He previously worked in a similar role in Emerald and prior to that was the Assistant Director of Clinical Services for Apunimpima Cape York Health Community. He has worked as a rural doctor in Katherine, Longreach, Thursday Island and for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Eugene sits on the Queensland Doctors Health Program Board.

“Rural, regional and remote Australians often have reduced access to health care relative to the city… My goal would be to have a long-term impact within the health system. Not just to make it more accessible and equitable, but a system that is safer for staff and more healing for patients… The impact of the COVID pandemic… has increased my conviction that we are overdue for healthcare to be done differently.

Camerata — Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra has recently returned from a triumphant tour of regional Queensland, travelling over 2,900km to Mackay, Rockhampton, Emerald, Barcaldine, and Longreach in May 2022.

This year’s tour itinerary was ambitious in scale with six concerts of the ‘Classical Reimagined’ programme — which included a new commission, Central Highland Rounds, written by Emerging Composer-in-Residence Alexander Voltz — as well as workshops with school students and local musicians, and special performances for aged care residents and kindergarten children. After a prestissimo eleven days on the road, Camerata was thrilled to crunch the numbers and report a ‘best-ever’ attendance record.

Flying into Mackay on Friday 6 May, the tour started with performances at the Pioneer Community KindergartenKookaburra Child Care Centre, and Glenella Care Centre. Then it was over to Mackay North State High School for a workshop with music students before a joint performance for the school community. Camerata was joined onstage by the Mackay Choral Society for evening and matinee performances presented at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

The Rockhampton leg saw Camerata spend time with the town’s tiniest residents at Rockhampton South Kindergarten and C&K Leichhardt Community Kindergarten before skipping across to North Rockhampton State High School for another afternoon of workshops and in-school performances. Evening rehearsal saw players rehearse a new Rockhampton Symphony Orchestra (RSO) commission from composer Christopher Healy (the artist behind Camerata’s inaugural tour commission), which was expertly worked into the Classical Reimagined concert the following day at the Pilbeam Theatre.  

Camerata quintet performing for Kookaburra Child Care Centre. Photo courtesy of Camerata.

“Thank you for what you have invested in Rockhampton and regional QLD. You have sown seeds of music to our kindy kids for the first time in their life. You have inspired our school students and made some of their dreams come true. You have blessed our elderly by reaching out to them with a beautiful afternoon of music when they are not mobile enough to go to concerts. Thank you and can’t wait to have you back.” 

— Rockhampton community member

The Emerald community turned out in force at the Town Hall on Thursday 12 May to see students from Emerald State School perform in concert with Camerata. This performance was particularly resonant with the home premiere of new composition Central Highland Rounds by Emerging Composer in Residence Alex Voltz, who drew inspiration from Emerald’s landscape, industry and friendly locals in the creative process.

Then it was on to Barcaldine and more education workshops with Barcaldine Prep-12 State School, whose students also took to the stage with Camerata at Town Hall for the evening community performance. Camerata also treated locals to a pop-up performance at the Tree of Knowledge memorial. You can watch a video of this performance here.

Camerata’s 2022 Regional Tour concluded with two final days in Longreach, performing for the residents of Bolton Clarke Pioneers retirement village in the morning on Sunday 15 May, and then welcoming the whole community to Edkins Park in the afternoon for the closing ‘Classical Reimagined’ concert, this time with Corinne Ballard MusicLongreach Town Band and students from Longreach State School and Longreach State High School as special guests. The tour wrapped on Monday with one more education day with music students from Longreach School of Distance Education. And just like that, it was time for Camerata to return to Brisbane.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation commends Camerata — Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra for the community-centred design of its 2022 Regional Tour, and joins with those in Mackay, Rockhampton, Emerald, Barcaldine and Longreach in congratulating them on this highly successful and celebratory tour of central Queensland.  

More photos from the tour are published on Camerata’s Facebook page.

Jonny Ng, Principal Second Violin & Education Manager, talking with Sasha, a student from Emerald State School. Photo by Morgan Roberts.

At a celebratory lunch in the Brisbane City Hall today, Gina Fairfax AC was named Community Philanthropist of the Year. The awards, which are the culmination of Philanthropy Week in Queensland, highlight the diversity of the sector in the state while celebrating some individuals who have made on-going contributions to the for-purpose sector.

Gina Fairfax is well-known in Queensland: for more than 20 years, she has given extensively to support charitable causes, volunteered on for-purpose boards, and delivered Meals on Wheels. In partnership with her husband Tim, their year-on-year contributions to Brisbane Festival has been significant and since 2018 she has directly supported the commissioning of new contemporary works and enabled artists to live and thrive in Queensland.

As a Trustee of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Gina has overseen the distribution of $54 million, including substantial contributions to Queensland arts initiatives. Gina and Tim Fairfax AC were last year made Life Members of Philanthropy Australia.

Gina is Chair of Ningana Trust and through the Trust has distributed impactful grants to organisations working in Queensland and Northern Territory improving the lives of young people, particularly women and children experiencing disadvantage, for almost 20 years.

As volunteer President of the Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland, Gina raises funds to support projects which assist rural Queenslanders suffering from breast cancer or prostate cancer. As a volunteer Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Monday Art (QAGOMA), Gina oversees two State institutions. Queensland Arts Gallery was established in 1895 and the Gallery of Modern Art opened in 2006. The galleries house a globally significant collection of contemporary art from Australia, Asia, and the Pacific.

Gina served as a volunteer Director of La Boite Theatre for nine years. La Boite is Australia’s longest continuously running theatre company, celebrating its 100th year of operation in 2025.

Gina is Cultural Patron of Flying Arts Alliance. Flying Arts Alliance is an arts and cultural development organisation which has been delivering visual arts projects and services to regional and remote Queensland communities since 1971.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) was pleased to experience the inaugural WOW Western Queensland Festival in Longreach from 4-6 March 2022.

After COVID-postponement in 2021, WOW Longreach forged ahead despite flood impacts to share three days of mentoring, storytelling, conversations and performances curated for and by the women and girls of Western Queensland, on the traditional land of the Iningai and Bidjara people, and coinciding with Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day.

In attendance from TFFF were Trustee Gina Fairfax, Advisor Sarah O’Brien, and Program Coordinator Hannah Barr.

In the spirit of First Nations First, WOW Longreach opened on Friday 4 March with an evening of Aboriginal storytelling, centered around the Red Ridge the Label’sCanvas to Catwalk fashion show. As at WOW Charleville in 2021, the catwalk experience presented the Label’s Diamantina and Georgina collections featuring artwork from Two Sisters Talking (Anpanuawa) Joyce Crombie and (Aulpunda) Jean Barr Crombie, and modelled by local women and girls. A unique Longreach addition was the performance of Matya (Long Ago) – a creation story of the sun and the moon – with special costumes showcasing the work of local Aboriginal artists, presented in collaboration with the Central West Aboriginal Corporation. The Mayor of Blackall-Tambo and Chair of Red Ridge Interior Queensland, Andrew Martin, shared an update on the Label’s achievements to date, including creating local jobs, selling out its online store and reaching an international market.

The morning of Saturday 5 March saw an abundance of opportunities to support local makers. The forecourt of the Longreach Civic and Cultural Centre was transformed into a marketplace, which remained throughout the weekend, featuring stalls with leatherwork, pottery, photography, jewellery, quilting, and Red Ridge the Label retailing garments straight from the catwalk.

The Co-Patron of WOW Australia, The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce, formally commenced Saturday’s proceedings with a stirring address sharing rich reflections on the progress achieved in the movement for gender equality and the persisting and new challenges women and girls still face. Quoting Justice Gaudron QC, the first female Justice of Australia’s High Court —
“We got equal pay once, then we got it again, but we still haven’t got it,” — provided the perfect launchpad for a weekend rich with conversation, acknowledging and listening to trail-blazing women with many lessons to share, and also recognising the need to pass the microphone to younger generations who will continue to advocate for change.

The programme centrepiece on Sunday 6 March was 30 Years of Landline Women, facilitated by Landline’s host Pip Courtney and featuring three generations of women from the land including Elizabeth ‘Thumper’ Clark, Keelen Mailman and Joy McClymont.

It was followed by a WOW Bites session, featuring short inspirational stories from Two Sisters Talking artists on their Canvas to Catwalk journey, Selena Gomersall from Outback Futures (also a TFFF-funded organisation) on ‘your story is written in pencil not pen’ and Sheila Campbell on the QCWA’s Centenary year in 2022.  The weekend culminated with an International Women’s Day lunch and The Future is Ours, a conversation between next generation women, including TFFF Advisor Sarah O’Brien.

TFFF extends its congratulations the WOW Australia team, lead by CEO Cathy Hunt, on delivering a marvellous cultural occasion in partnership with the women and girls of Western Queensland. After three packed days listening to conversations and storytelling, TFFF is thankful for the experience and enriched in its understanding of the daily resilience and solutions-based thinking required by the rural, regional and remote communities that it supports.

WOW has two more community festivals upcoming in 2022:
WOW Cairns from 13-14 May and WOW Logan from 15-16 July.

Gina Fairfax and Marilyn Trad in matching Magpie Goose dresses at the WOW Marketplace. Photo by Albert & Nez Santos.
Dame Quentin Bryce delivering the keynote address of WOW Longreach. Photo by Albert & Nez Santos.
The Future is Ours panel featuring TFFF Advisor Sarah O’Brien. Photo by Albert & Nez Santos.

Click here to access the WOW Longreach photo album.

mibo is a new workplace wellbeing digital platform with potential to build a healthier and safer Arts and Entertainment industry in Australia. With the support of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF), La Boite Theatre will pilot a mibo trial across its entire company in response to a growing national mental health crisis among Arts and Entertainment industry workers.

In 2016, Entertainment Assist released the Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry: Final Report, after surveying 2,904 workers across a full cross section of the industry from performers to administrators and technical and production crew. The report produced several key findings of critical concern, including that Arts and Entertainment workers are:

A primary contributor to these alarming mental wellbeing statistics was irregular work conditions that put individuals at high risk of work-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents, sleep disorders, social isolation, and being less likely and able to access support systems.

This pilot will see members of La Boite administration staff, venue staff, technical and backstage crew and Artist Company co-design and participate in an eight-week program tailored to improve its workforce’s health and wellbeing.

Delivered through an individual’s smart phone, participants complete confidential self-assessment wellbeing surveys as part of their workday. This data is analysed through mibo’s advanced algorithms and smart systems, which then prompts participants to access resources and assistance personalised to their mental health needs. These resources range from movement and mindfulness exercises and seeking peer support, through to being connected with a medical professional.

La Boite is Australia’s longest continuously running theatre company (96 years) and is home to the country’s only purpose-built theatre in-the-round.

mibo was co-founded by Sean Fyfe (Physiotherapist) and Dr Anthony Ross (Psychologist), combining their elite sport mind and body expertise with wellbeing practices to create a new workplace health methodology adaptable to various industries.

CEO and Executive Director of La Boite Zohar Spatz said: “The arts sector’s challenges are unique and supporting artists and art workers’ health and wellbeing is critical. Thank you to the TFFF for supporting such an innovative pilot.”

Chairman of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation Tim Fairfax AC said the health and wellbeing of the arts community should be one of the highest of priorities right now.

“Our arts sector has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and this has only compounded the poor state of the sector’s general health,” Mr Fairfax said.

“I hope this pilot delivers a successful intervention that could then be rolled out more broadly across the sector.”

This partnership is one of the cornerstones of TFFF’s recently announced Strategy for the next three years, which will see the Foundation support organisations and endeavours which build connected, resilient, and futureproof communities across Queensland and the Northern Territory. Learn more about the Strategy here.

During an online ceremony on 16 November 2021, Philanthropy Australia has named Tim Fairfax AC as Australia’s 2021 Leading Philanthropist. The Leading Philanthropist Award recognises an individual philanthropist whose work is visionary, high impact and transformative. In addition to generous funding, Tim has provided time, knowledge and leadership to many organisations.

“For me, one of the highlights of philanthropy is not so much the giving, but the receiving, the fact that you can make a difference whether it’s helping an Indigenous arts centre in Alice Springs or empowering those who live in rural and remote Australia or giving creative arts education to young Australians, and the satisfaction and rewards of listening to the outcomes of various funding initiatives,” Tim said.

“Giving can take many forms. It’s certainly not all about dollars – we all have the capacity to make a contribution to society and I think as a nation, we lead by example. Just look at our volunteers – to me they are the unsung heroes … it is one of many forms of philanthropy which we should recognise.’’

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation is based in Meanjin (Brisbane).