Originally written by the Mission Beach Historical Society for publication by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) on 24 April 2023.   

Djiru Country

In far north Queensland, 150 km south of Cairns, the Mission Beach Historical Society (MBHS) is a fledgling association – two years young and dreaming big.

Last month FRRR’s QLD programs manager visited the MBHS and invited them to write a story to let everyone know about their great work to curate a historical photographic exhibition.

Before the advent of the MBHS in late 2020, Mission Beach had no effective means of making histories and images easily accessible to residents and visitors of this region.

For the two last years, MBHS members have captured and documented some of the Mission Beach histories, having made a bright start with that endeavour. The society’s growing challenge was to find effective ways to share and exhibit MBHS collections. Being without a museum or a building, MBHS relies heavily on online presence and displays. Despite such hurdles, a range of interesting and innovative projects have been undertaken. One of these projects was to present a photographic exhibition.

In 2022, MBHS partnered with Community for Coastal & Cassowary Conservation Inc to receive an $8,925 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, to develop a photographic exhibition ‘Echo of the Past – Historical photographs from Mission Beach, 1890s – 1950s’ and present a series of historical photographs and Djiru cultural objects – coinciding with the anniversary of the 1918 cyclone which devastated the area.

The exhibition project aimed to facilitate cultural connection and transmission of culture of and with Traditional Owners through community engagement, cultural expression and on Country experiences.

The exhibition project was led by MBHS president, Dr Valerie Boll, anthropologist and curator, who worked with Djiru Traditional Owner, Elder and artist Leonard Andy and the Warrangburra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC – PBC, to source and document Djiru history and photographs. Mission Beach residents were also able to bring in old photographs to be scanned and used to illustrate stories that had been researched by MBHS members. The provided material was then collated.

David Andy, Betty Andy, Kenneth Campbell, Alison Andy, Valerie Boll, and Leonard Andy. Photo credit: J. Larson.

An enthusiastic crowd gathered on 10 March for the opening of the exhibition ‘Echo of the Past’, at the Art Print Frame Gallery and was enjoyed by the wider community until the exhibition closed in April.

A smaller version of the show was displayed at the Mission Beach library, and the exhibition was also shown at other locations in the region for the rest of the year.

Opening of the Echo of the Past exhibition. Photo credit J. Larson.

Cover photo: Valerie Boll and Leonard Andy preparing the exhibition.

All photos courtesy of FRRR and the Mission Beach Historical Society.

Originally written by the Mission Beach Historical Society for publication by FRRR on 24 April 2023.

The TFFF thanks the Mission Beach Historical Society and Community for Coastal & Cassowary Conservation Inc for providing permission to reproduce this story.  

The Mission Beach Historical Society is supported through the Connectedness stream in partnership with FRRR.

International Day of People with Disability is an internationally observed, United Nations sanctioned day that celebrates the contributions and achievements of people with disability and aims to promote community awareness, understanding, and acceptance⁠.

Observed annually on 3 December, International Day of People with Disability in Australia is a joint effort between government, schools, organisations, community groups, businesses, and individuals, and provides an opportunity to be part of creating an inclusive and diverse community for the 4.4 million Australians with disability.

Two of TFFF’s longest partnerships are with regional Queensland arts organisations working to create opportunities for artists and community members with disability. TFFF has been fortunate to build relationships with Crossroad Arts and Dancenorth since 2011 and 2010 respectively.

Crossroad Arts' C.R.U.S.H. 2023. More photos from C.R.U.S.H 2023 are available here.

Crossroad Arts

Mackay based organisation Crossroad Arts has established itself as a leader in inclusive arts practice in Queensland and nationally, co-creating opportunities for social change with artists and communities alike. Crossroad Arts’ annual program of activities is delivered across three streams: Artistic Development, Community Development, and Outreach, offering skill-based training, creating performance works, and delivering a wide range of inclusive workshops, artistic development and social opportunities across art forms.

Crossroad Arts has been in partnership with TFFF since 2011, and is guided by the Inclusive Arts Advisory Group. Consisting of eight artists who all have a diverse range of lived experience of disability, the Advisory group assists in raising Crossroad Arts’ national profile, and creating connection within their specific community. The Inclusive Arts Advisory Group also provides feedback on accessibility of all program offerings.

Over the three days it was such a fantastic time together with all my new friends and old friends who have come back and travelled a long long way to CRUSH. Thank you to our amazing audience for your applause  and coming along, such a huge audience made us feel so fierce, so proud to share our work together. See everyone next year at CRUSH 2024!!

- Natasha Tomlinson, Crossroad Arts Ambassador and Social Media Officer

Each year, Crossroad Arts delivers a professional development theatre making intensive suitable for all ages, bodies, minds and levels of artistic experience called C.R.U.S.H (Community. Regional. Up Skill. Haven). Last month Crossroad Arts hosted C.R.U.S.H. on Yuwi country in Mackay, and invited artists with disability from across Australia to attend. The program involves three days of workshops in contemporary movement, performance, and theatre, and is delivered in partnership with Dancenorth Australia and La Boite Theatre.

Crossroad Arts' C.R.U.S.H. 2023 wrap up video.

C.R.U.S.H also offered 13 scholarships for people with disability living in remote or regional Australia to contribute to travel and accommodation costs. These scholarships address the lack of professional development opportunities for artists with disability living in the regions.

A person wearing a silver sequinned dress with blonde hair holds their elbow-length gloved hand above their head while seated in an electronic wheelchair.
Maddison Hunt in LOOSE ENDS.

Crossroad Arts celebrates International Day of People with Disability at its annual ‘kooky, social and inclusive’ performance evening and major fundraiser. In 2023, LOOSE ENDS will feature Strictly Wheelchair Dance Group, Groove Movers, With One Voice, Choir of Unheard Voices, Crossroad Arts Crew and more.


Based in Townsville, Dancenorth is one of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies, and aims to dismantle the barriers to dance and build local, national, and international connections and resilience through dance for all to thrive. Dancenorth empowers and supports artists by providing a creative hub for many artistic voices including a diverse range of choreographers, guest collaborators, artists in residence, and dancers.

Alongside its professional ensemble, touring productions and artist development and leadership initiatives, Dancenorth delivers its TFFF-supported Community Experience Program.  Driven by a dedicated team, Dancenorth works with diverse and minority communities across Queensland using dance to support, enhance, inspire, and heal – bringing communities together.

A person with a red shirt and a person with red hair and a white dress and a colourful arm brace, seated in an electronic wheelchair, dance together. In the background, a person wearing green and a person wearing blue are also dancing.
Dancenorth's International Day of People with Disability performance in 2022.

Dancenorth has been in partnership with TFFF since 2010, and regularly facilitates community arts experiences that encourage individual expression and community spirit, for all people. Each year, Dancenorth creates an original dance performance to celebrate International Day of People with Disability in collaboration with students from Townsville Community Learning Centre. The event, held on Gurambilbarra country in Townsville, celebrates diversity within the community and invites the audience to share in the joy of dance as a foundation to creating connections which enrich and enhance lives.

Four people are facing away from the camera, posing with their arms up. Facing them, a large group of people, including children, copy their poses.
Dancenorth's International Day of People with Disability performance in 2022.

In 2022, students took inspiration from the idea of ‘home’, and this year the group has been inspired by their favourite places.

Dancenorth's International Day of People with Disability 2022 wrap up video.

Dancenorth also facilitates Deeper than Dancing, which explores movement and creativity with older people, people with a disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people. Supported by Regional Arts Australia, and developed closely with local participants, Deeper than Dancing provides a safe and inclusive environment for people to step outside their comfort zone to experience the creative process in action and immerse themselves in creativity and art-making experiences.

Cover photo: Dancenorth's International Day of People with Disability performance in 2022.

All photos courtesy of Crossroad Arts (Image credits: Jim Cullen Photography) and Dancenorth (Image credits: Aaron Ashley).

Crossroad Arts and Dancenorth are supported through the Resilience stream.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) is an annual celebration of the rich cultural and artistic diversity of Australia's Indigenous Art Centres and their artists. In 2023 DAAF celebrated its 17th year, and has secured a reputation as one of Australia’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events.

DAAF is delivered by the DAAF Foundation, which is owned and governed by the Art Centres it represents. It presented an enormously successful 2023 event from 10-13 August, embracing a hybrid in-person and online event concept for the second consecutive year. For the first time, the annual Opening Ceremony on 10 August was open to the public, further fostering a sense of community and cultural exchange.

Combining the traditional in-person art fair experience at the Darwin Convention Centre, on Larrakia Country, with an impressive online e-commerce platform, the event brought together artists and art lovers in a shared passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, design, and culture and created economic opportunities for Art Centres and artists.

This hybrid approach, emphasising both physical and digital interaction, not only allows anyone, anywhere, to ethically purchase artwork directly from Indigenous-owned Art Centres across Australia but also offers insight into the people, cultures, and communities they represent. The Fair also provides visitors with a genuine opportunity to meet Indigenous artists, performers, and Arts Workers from some of the most remote regions of Australia.

DAAF 2023 represented over 1,600 emerging and established artists, with 140 artists attending the physical Fair in Darwin. A record total of 78 Art Centres participated in the event, with 41 Art Centres in the hybrid event, 27 in the physical event only, and 10 in the online-only segment. Approximately 12,000 unique artworks were presented for the public to explore and purchase.

The 2023 Fair saw record sales, with $4.4 million generated by the physical and online fair. Importantly, DAAF takes no commission, ensuring that 100% of sales go directly back to the Art Centres and their communities.

The international appeal of DAAF is undeniable, with the 2023 event attracting 29,031 visitors from across the globe. This included over 15,874 attendees at the physical event and 13,157 unique online visitors. 43.9% of visitors surveyed were from interstate, and 92% of visitors surveyed wanted to revisit Darwin and recommend it to others, further bolstering the region's tourism. Economically, DAAF had a significant impact, stimulating the Northern Territory economy by over $12 million, with $10 million of this generated from in-scope visitor spending.

Bula'Bula Arts booth, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee

DAAF Foundation’s success extended far beyond the Fair in 2023. Its accompanying Public Program offered an array of immersive experiences, from sold-out masterclasses to artist demonstrations and cultural performances.

Country to Couture returned to the Darwin Convention Centre on 6 August, showcasing 22 unique collections from First Nations designers and artists to a record audience of 1184 members. The collections featured ready-to-wear pieces and collaborations with community Art Centres, exhibited at two different runway shows. The Foundation also hosted the National Indigenous Fashion Awards on 7 August, which celebrated a record 66 nominated designers and artists across six different categories. The Awards, hosted for the fourth year running, had over 400 attendees and were later broadcast on NITV, further expanding DAAF’s reach.

The TFFF has supported DAAF Foundation and its continued growth since 2017, and recognises the importance of the Fair’s elevation of Indigenous artists on a national and international stage. CEO Neal Harvey, along with philanthropic peers, was privileged to be able to attend the Fair in person this year.

The hybrid format of DAAF's 2023 event opened up incredible national and international sales and awareness opportunities for Art Centres, and the Foundation hopes to continue to present the event in a hybrid format in future.

Aerial view of Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee

Cover photo: Red Flag Dancers performance at DAAF 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee. All photos courtesy of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation is supported through the Resilience stream.

Originally written and published by the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) on 30 September 2021.    

Iningai Country

For years, Central Western Queensland has been heavily impacted by the economic, environmental, and social effects of a prolonged drought. Topology, a grassroots community arts organisation, decided to tackle these impacts and empower their communities with music and performance.

Topology’s goal is to build the creative capacity of their participants and to help increase social connectedness through much needed community-based and intergenerational events. And that’s exactly what they achieved when they launched Top Up Central Western Queensland. This initiative consisted of a series of 12 workshops and a four-day creative bootcamp that culminated in a free community performance in Longreach, which was attended by 2,000 people.

Through [FRRR's] Tackling Tough Times Together program, Topology received a grant of $10,000, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, as well as separate funding through the Building Better Regions Fund. This money paid the local artists who hosted workshops, as well as covering venue hire and event costs.

One of the things we are most proud of is seeing people of all ages, some with no previous experience of the arts, learn about their own potential for creativity – and to perform in public a new piece they have written and contributed to themselves. The feelings of self-accomplishment and pride achieved by the participants is a real and invaluable outcome of this program.

The Topology team

The program was also the catalyst for Topology consulting with the community on the development of a Regional Creative Hub (RCH). This hub will have lasting impacts for local communities, as it will help to support and upskill rural creative practitioners and community arts organisations.

Top Up Central Western Queensland empowered, educated, and inspired the community to create, perform and tell their stories, while celebrating their community. It was a much-needed reminder of their resilience and their ability to thrive through tough times together.

This mini-documentary showcases some of the highlights from Topology’s Creative Boot Camp which took place in Longreach, QLD in September 2019. This video features a number of young musicians from across the Central Western QLD region alongside Topology’s Creative Tutors.

Young musicians at the Topology Creative Boot Camp in Longreach.

All photos courtesy of Topology.

Originally written and published by FRRR on 30 September 2021.      

The TFFF thanks Topology Inc for providing permission to reproduce this story.

Topology is supported through the Connectedness stream in partnership with FRRR.

Yiliyapinya Indigenous Corporation, a name which translates to "brain" in the Wankumara language, is committed to transforming lives and breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage within Indigenous communities.

Yiliyapinya was founded in 2019 by Sheryl Batchelor, who had observed that the impact of toxic stress and adversity on brain development was contributing to declining brain health among Indigenous communities. Sheryl recognised the urgent need for culturally responsive neuroplasticity programs to combat this issue and help First Nations people live healthy, meaningful lives, and Yiliyapinya was born.

At its core, Yiliyapinya's theory of change is rooted in the belief that neuroplasticity programs can be a catalyst for healing; empowering children, young people, and adults to progress on their individual healing journeys while reconnecting culturally. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself and change in response to the environment and experiences. This understanding drives Yiliyapinya to support Queensland’s most disadvantaged young people to strive for a better quality of life.

The organisation offers a range of targeted programs designed to improve brain health:

  • Yili Program – Providing vital social, emotional, and educational support, including neuroscience-informed activities for 10-17-year-olds involved in long-term school refusals or youth justice.
  • Deadly Brains Playgroup – Working with Inala and Logan Indigenous children aged 0-2 years and their parents, kin, or carers to ensure healthy brain development.
  • Think Smarter Not Harder – A culturally safe training program for Indigenous adults aimed at improving brain health and promoting healing.
  • Knowledge to Action – Offering brain health screening and improvement programs.

As an advocate of a holistic approach to healing, Yiliyapinya partners with other stakeholders, including government and service providers. Yiliyapinya is engaged in systems change, demonstrating the role of healthy brains in shifting the odds for children. Yiliyapinya also believes in the importance of the brain health of caregivers and the child-facing workforce and regularly designs and deliver workshops for organisations, businesses, and schools to enhance cognitive skills.

Craft activities at Deadly Brains Day.

Yiliyapinya is a new TFFF partner and is supported through the Resilience stream, which provides multi-year general operational support funding – the kind of funding for-purpose organisations need most. Yiliyapinya is a comparatively young organisation, although benefits from the significant wisdom and experience of Founder Sheryl Batchelor. The TFFF recognises the value of providing support to strengthen Yiliyapinya’s operational capacity and aims to empower Yiliyapinya, and organisations like it, to focus on its strategic objectives and effectively realise its goals.

Cover photo: Sheryl Batchelor presenting at the Youth Advocacy Centre. All photos courtesy of Yilipinya Indigenous Organisation.

Yiliyapinya Indigenous Corporation is supported through the Resilience stream.

The TFFF has long recognised the significance of the work carried out by Indigenous-led organisations in Australia, and the importance of listening deeply to Traditional Owners, amplifying their voices, and supporting their solutions for meaningful change on their own terms.

At a moment of conversation throughout Australia, we felt it important to use our platform to cast a spotlight on the remarkable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people with whom the TFFF has a relationship, and the transformative work being carried out by those who lead the way toward positive change.

Throughout our 2022-2023 Annual Report, we have identified Indigenous-led organisations or agreements where TFFF funding has directly enabled the employment of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In total, the TFFF made 27 distributions in support of First Nations people and communities in 2023, and 16 of the 40 organisations partnered with were Indigenous-led.

37% of total funding in the past 12 months was directed to First Nations organisations, initiatives, or projects, with a total of $3.4M allocated to Indigenous led organisations and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wages.

The Annual Report also highlights three partner organisations led by or working with First Nations members to enact change:

MJD Foundation

The MJD Foundation is a grassroots, Aboriginal-controlled organisation that partners with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities to support families living with Machado-Joseph Disease (MJD) and Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 7 (SCA7).

MJD is a hereditary neurodegenerative disease found worldwide, with a higher prevalence among Aboriginal people with genetic ties to northeast Arnhem Land.

Established in 2008 on Groote Eylandt, the MJD Foundation addresses the lack of services and information for affected families. Its 'Our Way' approach includes primary health and disability support, genetic counseling, therapy, education, respite accommodation, visits to Country, research, and advocacy, and is based on a strong Aboriginal Community Worker two-way engagement model.

Gayangwa Lalara OAM, a Warnindilyakwa woman, plays a vital role in the organisation as Vice Chairperson and Senior Cultural Advisor. Under her leadership, the Foundation has expanded its reach to 26 remote communities, with funding from the FRRR SRC program enabling the development of permanent ‘in-place’ support services in Ngukurr.

Aboriginal Art Co.

Aboriginal Art Co. was founded by Amanda Hayman (Kalkadoon and Wakka Wakka) and Troy Casey (Kamilaroi) in 2019 to combat the issue of inauthentic Indigenous-style consumer products in Australia. The 2022 Productivity Commission revealed that up to 75% of such products were fake, resulting in substantial income losses for First Nations people.

Aboriginal Art Co., as Brisbane's first Indigenous Art Centre, connects Indigenous Art Centres and artists from regional and remote Australia to the Queensland market. It prioritises ethical practices, with approximately 70% of sales revenue returning to artists and art centres, and is working towards the realisation of a self-sustaining and self-determining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander retail and arts industry in Australia.

Aboriginal Art Co. is committed to connecting Indigenous culture and commerce, providing employment and development opportunities that include its artist-in-residence program, retail and gallery assistants, workshop facilitators, caterers, photographers, and models, along with its social enterprise fashion label Magpie Goose.

Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership & Thriving First Nations Kids Initiative

The Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership (TQKP) is addressing the need to ensure all Queensland children and young people have a positive start in life. By working to connect organisations, individuals, services, and systems, and to facilitate shared access to resources, knowledge, and networks, TQKP aims to ensure children, young people and families are supported to thrive.

TFFF has invested in two of TQKP's ten initiatives: the Thriving Queensland Kids Country Collaborative and the Thriving First Nations Kids Initiative (TFNKI). TQKP prioritises supporting the self-determination of child health related First Nations leaders and organisations, working closely with a range of First Nations leaders, organisations and communities, including Queensland Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) to advance a co-design process for the TFNKI.

Sarah Callinan, a Wangkangurru woman with expertise in early childhood development, has been appointed as the First Nations Strategic Partnerships Lead. Sarah has been involved in a range of initiatives and strategies aimed at improving early childhood outcomes for First Nations children, and has an exceptional understanding of brain and early childhood development. The active involvement of Sarah, Garth Morgan (CEO, QATSICPP) and others will help support First Nations leadership and drive collective effort across systems to better enable Indigenous children to thrive.

View the full 2022-2023 Annual Report here.

Cover photo courtesy of Children's Ground.

The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust (KKT) brings together Indigenous ranger groups, communities, and philanthropic partners in a shared mission: to support the Bininj people of Central and Western Arnhem Land in preserving their country and culture.

By providing critical funding for on ground programs and infrastructure, KKT aims to back Traditional Owners and Djungkay to continue to live on Country and undertake critical conservation and cultural work, supporting the continuation of the world’s oldest living culture.

Along with its partners, KKT works to educate and prepare the next generation of custodians, safeguard cultural knowledge, strengthen the role of local women and protect over 65,000 square kilometres of land and sea country.

KKT recognises the link between cultural heritage, community strength and conservation outcomes, and as such supports bi-cultural education projects to not only provide education that is locally and culturally relevant, but to safeguard traditions and nurture the custodians of the future.

At the request of the Nawarddeken Traditional Owners of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in West Arnhem Land, the Nawarddeken Academy was established in 2015. The Academy, a bi-cultural, community-owned school, provides access to full-time education in the remote home communities of the Warddeken IPA and educates children in both the Bininj (Indigenous) and Balanda (non-Indigenous) worlds.

The Academy has grown from a single teacher under a tarpaulin in Kabulwarnamyo to three registered independent schools, with additional Nawarddeken Academy schools established in Manmoyi and Mamardawerre at the request of Traditional Owners in 2021. Now, children at all three ranger base communities in the Warddeken IPA have access to education on their homelands, combining traditional Indigenous knowledge and the Australian curriculum.

Nawarddeken Academy Students. Image credit: Stacey Irving.

In 2023, Nawarddeken Academy, supported by the TFFF and other funders, commenced the process of establishing a high school and early learning program, to guarantee Nawarddeken children an On-Country, bi-cultural education for the entirety of their school years. This expansion will include creating purpose-built accommodation for teachers and staff, as well as developing multipurpose classrooms that can accommodate high school students, the early learning program and adult education in the evenings.

The Nawarddeken Academy recently held a camp that brought together all three schools to create a hip-hop song and music video about their culture and communities. Watch the video, titled Cycles of the Land, here:

Cover photo: Nawarddeken Academy Students. Image Credit: Stacey Irving. All photos courtesy of Karrkad Kanjdji Trust.

The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust and the Nawarddeken Academy are supported through the Futureproof stream.

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 is based in Meanjin (Brisbane).