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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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