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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.

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.

The first recipients of these new TFFF scholarships were recently announced as part of ARLP’s 30th anniversary cohort: Eileen Breen and Clive Liebmann.
You can read the complete list of ARLP Course 30 Leaders here, including ten participants from Queensland and two from the Northern Territory.

Eileen Breen

Girraween, NT

Eileen is the Business Development Manager forNTEX, her family-owned construction and demolition business that provides cutting-edge solutions in recycling and remanufacturing waste concrete and asphalt. She is also the co-founder of ecotourism venture Clove Tree Hill in Bali, Indonesia.

Eileen has an interest in circular economies and business sustainability initiatives and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise at Charles Darwin University as a pathway to an MBA. It’s already been a busy year for Eileen: winning the NT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award and NTEX being shortlisted in the 2023 Australian Financial Review’s Sustainability Leaders roundup. 

Clive Liebmann

Lajamanu, NT

Clive works with the remote Warlpiri community of Lajamanu in the northern Tanami Desert. As a community development program manager, he oversees the delivery of youth diversion activities which are aligned with the Closing the Gap targets in health, education, and quality of life.

In applying to the ARLP, Clive said “… as a non-Indigenous person working in the remote Indigenous sector, I believe that leadership must strike a balance between advocacy, action and knowing when to step back to ensure there is space for Indigenous leaders to lead in their own right.”


The ARLP is the flagship program of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF). Completed over fifteen months, it is the most in-depth, cross-sectoral, national leadership program for rural, regional and remote Australians and produces leaders who can influence and advocate in authentic and ethical ways. With over 2000 alumni, the ARLP is building a network of people who are committed to fostering thriving communities and industries, where people work with one another and the environment around them; respectfully, boldly and intuitively.

Applications for the next intake, ARLP Course 31, open on 2 June and close 16 July 2023.  Head to the ARLF website to register your interest, or shoulder tap a deserving colleague or friend for consideration. An Applicant Q&A Webinar will be held on 14 June (12.00pm-1.00pm AEST), featuring ARLP alumni and hosted by Matt Linnegar, ARLF Chief Executive. Register now.

TFFF is one of 26 scholarship partners making the program possible and accessible in 2023. If your organisation is interested in supporting a future untied ARLP scholarship, please visit the ARLF website.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) has joined with fellow regional funder John Villiers Trust (JVT), to support better outcomes for children, young people, and their families in country Queensland.

In 2020, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) quickly became concerned about the immediate and enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people, particularly those already experiencing disadvantage. It moved to initiate the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership (TQKP), a cross-sectoral coalition of not-for-profit, philanthropic, tertiary and government bodies all committed to improving health, education and family services systems that shape young lives.

TQKP systems change approach is catalysing much-needed change by bringing people and knowledge together for the benefit of all children and young people across Queensland.

“TQKP is bringing together organisations and leaders to translate experience and science, and draw on local wisdom and innovation in policy, programs and practice, while supporting capacity building across our diverse Queensland communities and workforces.”

Michael Hogan
Convenor, TQKP

One initiative of TQKP is the Thriving Country Queensland Kids Collaborative, delivered with partners James Cook University (JCU) and Central Queensland University (CQU), and initially resourced by the TFFF and JVT. The Country Qld Kids Collaborative exists to support leaders, organisations and practitioners delivering child, youth and family health, development and wellbeing services and initiatives in rural, regional and remote Queensland.

Philanthropic support from TFFF and JVT includes funding for a dedicated Country Partnerships Officer, Jacinta Perry (pictured), who is based in Cairns and working from JCU. Jacinta is a community development professional with a passion for projects centred on community engagement, strong partnerships and local capacity building. She is an advocate for community-led solutions and has previously worked to support economic participation for refugees, youth and First Nations communities.

The John Villiers Trust CEO, Lea-Anne Bradley, said the Country Partnerships Officer was an important role as it would “put boots on the ground to connect regionally based organisations and communities with all that the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership has to offer.”

Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership is working to ensure vulnerable children and youth can access the right supports, at the right time and in the right way, to break cycles of disadvantage in Queensland communities.

Feature photo by Russell Shakespeare.

Jacinta Perry
Country Partnerships Officer
TQKP

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.

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.

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