Originally written and published by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) on 15 September 2022.    

On the Tiwi Islands, 80km north of Darwin in the Northern Territory, you’ll find a business called Tiwi Enterprises. It strives for the economic betterment of Tiwi people and their community.

The organisation’s vision is “self-reliance through skills development and productivity”. And it is doing a great job, employing 26 Tiwi people, who make up 75% of the company’s workforce.

Since 2007, this 100% Tiwi owned organisation has grown to include 11 business units, and other Mantiyupwi-owned rental properties and assets:

  • Civil Works
  • Gardening Services
  • Freight Facility Operations
  • Building Maintenance
  • Community Cleaning Services
  • Rental Car Hire
  • Milikapiti Farm and Nursery
  • Accommodation
  • Tuparipiya Bus Company
  • Mantiyupwi Motel
  • Bathurst Island Airport agent
Tony and the new ride on mower heading off to work.

One of Tiwi Enterprises’ contracts is with the Office of Township Leasing for the management of grass height and rubbish removal for the 114 tenants living in the area. In December last year, Tiwi Enterprises received a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, to purchase additional equipment for its gardening services. Thanks to the SRC funding, it was able to afford a heavy-duty ride on mower to add to its fleet.

A member of the Women's Crew using the ride on mower.

The new mower helped Tiwi Enterprises win another contract to mow all Community Yards on Bathurst Island, which is 321 lots. Many of these yards were overgrown, representing a fire risk, and home to a number of snakes. But thanks to the work of the Tiwi team over an eight-week period, the whole community is enjoying improved safety.

The new contract also meant that nine new employees were hired, four of them women. There will be opportunities for any of these employees to become Leading Hands and Supervisors and to learn new skills including maintenance of machinery, supervising and administration work.

Tiwi future in Tiwi hands

Cover photo: Starting the day on Tiwi Enterprises' new ride on mower. All photos courtesy of Tiwi Enterprises.

Originally written and published by FRRR on 12 September 2022.      

The TFFF thanks Tiwi Enterprises for providing permission to reproduce this story.

Tiwi Enterprises is supported through the Connectedness stream in partnership with FRRR.

Cape York Partnership is working to empower Indigenous Cape York families and communities to strive for lives of value, freedom, and prosperity through a number of interconnected organisations and initiatives.

Cape York Employment, one of these entities, works throughout Cape York to create pathways to meaningful, real employment. Cape York Employment is working with job seekers and school leavers to identify job opportunities, provide access to training, improve job-readiness and break down any barriers in their path to employment.

The School to Jobs (S2J) initiative is one of many led by Cape York Employment and aims to address the major barriers for youth transitioning from education to employment. It provides a foundation of support for students, helping change their view of themselves and how to affect personal change through active participation in the job market.  S2J ensures students maintain their cultural identity and connection to family and promotes an aspirational culture that motivates and encourages students to take control of their future and become the drivers of change in their local communities.

Jordan Hobson Harding, a recent graduate of Cape York Girl Academy, another entity in the Cape York Partnership, is one such student. Jordan, a young woman from Lockhart River, left school in 2021 and found herself drawn into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol in the Lockhart River Community. Jordan’s family members supported her to make the decision to apply to attend the Academy at Wangetti Beach, just north of Cairns, where she successfully graduated in 2022.

After graduating, Jordan was supported by Cape York Employment to develop a resume, video application and the confidence to apply to Rio Tinto as an Apprentice Diesel Fitter. With the support of Cape York Partnership and her community, Jordan was accepted and made the difficult decision to move to Weipa as a first-year apprentice.

Jordan on site in Weipa.

“It’s 12 hours of me sweating in a shed, but it’s an experience,” Jordan says.

Jordan shared her inspiring journey to overcoming personal challenges at the 2023 International Women’s Day Luncheon, hosted by Cape York Partnership Group CEO Fiona Jose. She was joined on stage by Cape York Institute CEO, Kirsty Davis and Chair of the Puuya Foundation, Dorothy Hobson, who both expressed their admiration for Jordan's achievements.

Dorothy Hobson, Jordan, and Kirsty Davis at the 2023 International Women's Day Luncheon.

I was given a second chance at Girl Academy. Leaving home was hard. There were a couple of times last year when I went through depression and wanted to go home. But I went to school and ended up graduating.

– Jordan Hobson Harding

Jordan was also announced as one of the 2023 winners of Heywire, an annual storytelling competition run by ABC, showcasing the stories of young Australians from remote locations. Jordan’s story, titled ‘I hate what’s happening in my community, so I’m changing it’, describes the challenges faced by young Indigenous Australians in remote communities and her desire to contribute positively to her community.

Jordan is now considered a mentor to other youth in her community; an example of the success to be realised by accepting support, making difficult decisions and committing to education and employment. In the closing words of her Heywire story, she encourages her peers to follow in her footsteps and focus on their future, because in her words, “We need you.”

Listen to Jordan reading her Heywire submission or read the transcript here.

Cover photo: Jordan Hobson Harding on site in Weipa. All photos courtesy of Cape York Partnership.

Cape York Employment is an initiative of Cape York Partnership, supported through the Resilience stream.

In June, TFFF Senior Program Manager, Katie Norman travelled to Kalkadoon and Maithakari country as a representative of Ningana Trust.

The visit included several site visits to learning and family centres in Mount Isa with sector colleagues Matthew Cox and Jill Simes from The Bryan Foundation, and Jacinta Perry from Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership. Jacinta and Katie also attended the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Queensland State Conference in Julia Creek, an organisation Ningana Trust has supported since 2011.

Due to their geographical isolation, students in rural and remote areas often face limited access to education, technological barriers, and social and cultural considerations unique to rural life that can affect their learning opportunities. The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation that advocates for and supports the educational needs of students living in rural and remote areas, ensuring that they have equitable access to quality education.

The group began their tour in Mount Isa at the Centre for Learning and Wellbeing, known as the CLAW, where they were welcomed by representatives from the Department of Education (DoE) and local school principals. When visiting primary schools and early years places, conversations opened up around the challenges faced by children, families, and educational facilities in the area, along with information about the innovative Project 1000 and the strong partnerships that exist in Mount Isa’s early years workforce.

Katie, Matthew, Jill, and Jacinta with local legend Father Mick (left) and Ngukuthati Family Centre Staff. Photo courtesy of Ngukuthati Family Centre.

At Ngukuthati Family Centre, the group learnt about the significant impact of foetal alcohol syndrome, the defective playground, the value of the men’s shed, and the lack of public transport available. In Mount Isa, early learning centres are visited by LEADSmart to educate children on how to avoid lead poisoning when playing outside. In such a remote environment filled with unique challenges, the information, resources, advocacy, and support provided by ICPA Queensland are invaluable.

The ICPA Queensland State Conference is designed to provide an opportunity for government representatives, authorising stakeholders, boarding school staff and other key organisations to hear issues from those experiencing them directly.  The 2023 Conference, which is in its 52nd year, had more than 100 delegates in attendance, including parents.  Attendees are not only able to bring the issues they face in outback Queensland to the attention of policymakers, but also have the opportunity to foster a network of support that extends well beyond the conference.

Katie and Jacinta with members of the ICPA Board. Left to right: Kate Bradshaw (Vice President), Wendy Henning (President), Melissa Iland (back, Publicity Officer), Katie, Jacinta, Amanda Clark (Treasurer), Annette Boyle (Secretary). Photo courtesy of ICPA.

After years advocating for an increase to the Living Away From Home Allowance Scheme (LAFHAS), success was achieved in 2023.  LAFHAS is an initiative designed to support students who do not have reasonable, daily access to a school and therefore attend boarding school.

At the State Conference, the DoE’s Director General, Michael De’Ath announced that the Queensland Government would increase the LAFHAS by $4,000 in 2024 - the full amount requested by ICPA Qld. This major announcement was met with a standing ovation from delegates.  Ningana Trust is pleased to support this important outcome, which will benefit 1,400 families in isolated areas of Queensland.

The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association is supported by Ningana Trust.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation partnered with the University of Queensland to create an Executive Leadership Program to support leaders of TFFF partner organisations. Community leaders were provided with an opportunity to come together, to broaden their peer network, and to develop professional skills in the areas of leadership, collaboration, and sustainable innovation.

As a part of its Futureproof investment stream, the TFFF has worked in collaboration with the University of Queensland Business School (UQBS) to create the TFFF Executive Leadership Program. The program was designed to assist in strengthening impact and growth for organisations supported by TFFF, empowering leaders for long term, sustainable impact.  Through this program, TFFF aims to foster collaborative networks, cultivate leadership excellence, and encourage sustainable business practices that have a lasting impact on communities.

The program was facilitated by a team of leading UQ Business School academics in the fields of leadership, social impact, organisational culture, stakeholder management, and innovation. It was co-designed by a working group involving leaders of organisations currently supported by the TFFF.

TFFF Trustees and CEO pictured with UQ Business School program facilitators.

The inaugural cohort consisted of 12 leaders from organisations across Queensland and the Northern Territory, working in the arts, education, community services, and health sectors. Participants were provided with tools to develop leadership and organisational sustainability under the pillars of people and process: resilience, capacity building, collaboration and networking, along with sustainable business models, governance, and innovation.

Following an online pre-program session, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff hosted the inaugural cohort of the TFFF Executive Leadership Program for a welcome event on the evening of the 12th of May. Attendees then embarked on two days of in-person collaborative learning and professional development at the University of Queensland, and later completed a post-program check in.

TFFF Trustees and Advisors pictured with members of the inaugural cohort of the TFFF Executive Leadership Program.

Participants in the program have shared early reflections and insights following their experience:

"I would highly recommend this program continue and I look forward to connecting with the group members on an ongoing basis."

"I really appreciated engaging with the UQ faculty on Friday evening and during the breaks on Saturday. All UQ staff were passionate, knowledgeable and energized about the course."

"The other highlight was being able to share the time with so many people outside of [my] sector, all of whom are doing really important work. It was a real gift of exchange."

 "Deep gratitude to the Foundation for being so generous and invested in the organisations you support."

All photos by Thomas Oliver for Atmosphere Photography.

The TFFF Executive Leadership Program is funded through the Futureproof stream.

Originally written and published by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) on 10 November 2022.    

Malak Malak People

Nauiyu is an Aboriginal community of 444 people in the Daly River region in the Northern Territory. Their place, around 2.5 hours’ drive from Darwin, is said to be one of the best Barramundi fishing spots in the country, and locals hold a strong connection to their land and culture. Despite the idyllic description, Nauiyu experiences alcohol and other drug misuse within its small population. Yet there is strong community support for real solutions that respond to community needs, are culturally appropriate, and involve building local capacity and furthering local leadership.

Enter Red Dust. Founded by John Van Groningen, the organisation was born out of his work with youth in the Aboriginal community of Lajamanu in 1984. Today, it delivers innovative health promotion and community development programs that are co-designed through trusted relationships with remote First Nations communities. For the people of Nauiyu, a community-based diversion program celebrating cultural identity and pride would provide a means to connect and engage the vulnerable community.

Consulting the community, Red Dust’s Local Drug Action team coordinated the Red Dust Community Art Collaboration project with local organisations. Green River Aboriginal Corporation identified sites for the murals; Merrepen Arts provided the connection to local artists and culturally relevant iconography; and Ironbark provided access to volunteers and project participants. Proper Creative, based in Darwin, was commissioned to paint the murals in conjunction with local project participants.

With collaboration between local artists, community members, young people, and service providers, and a $5,000 Strengthening Rural Communities grant funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation & Pinnacle Charitable Foundation, Red Dust will deliver three large murals. The project will not only create beautiful public spaces and bring the dreaming of the Nauiyu community to life, it will also support the health, wellbeing and future opportunities for local youth.

While the mural project is ongoing, you can see the impressive first piece, featuring Daly River artist Kieren Karritpul here.

Kieren Karritpul works on his mermaid dreaming mural with community members and Proper Creative artist Jordan Conrad.

Cover photo: Kieren Karritpul and Proper Creative artist Jordan Conrad in front of Kieren's mermaid dreaming mural. Photos courtesy of Red Dust.

Originally written and published by FRRR on 10 November 2022.      

The TFFF thanks Red Dust Role Models Ltd for providing permission to reproduce this story.

Red Dust Role Models is supported through the Connectedness stream in partnership with FRRR.

An hour outside of the Brisbane CBD in the picturesque Lockyer Valley region is the rural town of Laidley. Back in March, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff enjoyed an early morning drive to visit the Laidley Community Centre (LCC), which has been in funding since 2019.

A weekly Under 5's Playgroup session, held with a focus on parental engagement.
Photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Despite its relative proximity to metropolitan centres, Laidley’s population experiences significant socio-economic disadvantage, placing it in the lowest 5% when compared with the national average (SEIFA). Various factors influence this: high elderly and youth populations, lower than average median household income, greater number of single-occupant households, twice the average youth unemployment rate, and lack of sufficient public transport to reach employment.

TFFF Trustees, Advisors, and staff visit Laidley Community Centre.
Photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Incorporated in 1988, Laidley Community Centre is a crucial pillar of this resilient community, providing support to people working through financial, housing, natural disaster or domestic crises, while also assisting residents to develop their potential to make a difference in their own lives, families, workplaces and communities. LCC works to achieve this through a varied and comprehensive service offering, including a neighbourhood centre, emergency, natural disaster and food relief, social enterprise café Community Grounds, Centrelink and tax assistance, and children’s and parents’ programs. Its impact extends far beyond the immediate township, reaching people from Plainland, Forest Hill, Grandchester and Mulgowie.

The purpose of TFFF’s visit was to see LCC’s flagship Early Connections Project (ECP) in action, and meet some of the young families involved. The Early Connections Project grew from an increasing need to better support children under five years old who are experiencing developmental or social challenges. It’s the driver for increased coordination across local programs and partners to support parents and carers to give children the best start in life, from pregnancy through to commencing school. Communal efforts like ECP enable early identification of vulnerable children — the first vital step in connecting them and their families with required supports. Early assistance is also the best strategy to enable longer term outcomes that break the cycle of disadvantage, like overall positive engagement with the education system.

Janella Cox has been LCC’s Early Childhood Worker for several years now and has delivered an extensive list of achievements together with Centre Manager Alana Wahl and volunteers. TFFF was fortunate to participate in a session of the weekly facilitated Under 5’s Playgroup, with a focus on parental engagement.

We were proud to host the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation last week as they met with us to discuss the impacts and strategies of our Early Connections Project. The TFFF has generously been funding this program for the past four years and enabling us to make an impact on the youngest members of our community and their parents. This project strives to ensure local families are connected, and able to link into any needed support at the earliest opportunity so that children have the best chance at positive outcomes once they start school (and beyond!). We are so grateful to the TFFF and wanted to take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the community.

—      Alana Wahl
Manager, LCC

Feature photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Thank you to LCC’s Manager Alana Wahl, Chair Adrian Shepley and ECP Coordinator Janella Cox for the invitation to visit and for your warm country hospitality.

Laidley Community Centre is funded through the Resilience stream.

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