In early June, TFFF Trustees Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax AC, Advisor Sarah O’Brien, and Foundation staff travelled to Townsville to connect with several current grant recipients and see first-hand the impact each has on the community.

The visit coincided with the 2024 Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) Qld State Conference, which was attended by TFFF Senior Program Manager Katie Norman and provided an occasion to learn from rural families, engage with the Department of Education and meet familiar and new child-focused partners.

The first day of the trip began driving out to Idalia on a beautiful North Queensland winter morning to view the new AEIOU Townsville premises, currently under construction. Here, we were joined by Alan Smith (AEIOU CEO), Russell Fryer (Hutchies Managing Director), Mitch Grimmer (Hutchies Team Leader), Schahana Clark (AEIOU Senior Service Delivery Manager), Emma Newham (AEIOU Townsville Centre Manager), and site manager Mark Taylor.

Tim, Sarah, and Gina being given a tour of the new building by Alan.

TFFF approved funding to support the construction of the new purpose-built centre in August 2023, and has previously provided support for AEIOU’s regional Autism Early Intervention program. Delivered in partnership with Hutchinson Builders, the centre was designed as a state-of-the-art facility with three classrooms, a motor skills therapy room, telehealth rooms, a community meeting and training space, research rooms and external learning environments and playgrounds. The thought put into every aspect of the build, from accessibility to noise dampening, was incredible – it was clear both staff and children will benefit greatly from the new centre.

L-R: Alan, Emma, Sarah, Gina, Tim, Neal, Sahala, and Russell at the AEIOU construction site.

Following the site tour, we met Kate O’Hara (Director) and Daniel Qualischefski (Gallery Manager and Curator) for lunch near Umbrella Studio. Umbrella Studio is a gallery and studio space which delivers an annual program of onsite and touring exhibitions, public programs, arts residencies, studio access, and professional development programs, along with TFFF-supported biennial arts festival, Pop Up North Queensland (PUNQ). After lunch, Kate and Daniel gave a tour of the studio, where exhibitions Pressing Topics by The Ironing Maidens and An Unnatural Historyby Sarah Treadwell were on display, and introduced the Umbrella team – Erin Ricardo (Arts Programs Manager), Rikaela Rusch (Marketing and Communications Manager), Sabrina Toby (PUNQ Creative Producer), and Amanda Galea (Arts and Marketing Administrator).

Heading downstairs to the studio space, we met a community artist in the process of utilising the equipment to create intaglio prints using recycled tetra-pack containers. Umbrella’s vast storage room was a maze of interesting and unusual artistic equipment and supplies, including a vintage loom, lithographic stones so heavy they required a pallet jack to move, and the only publicly available darkroom north of Brisbane.

Neal, Tim, Sarah, Gina, Kate and Daniel in the Umbrella Studios gallery.

Returning to our hotel, we met with Jacinta Perry (Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership Country Qld Lead). The Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership (TQKP) is a cross-sector coalition of not-for-profit, philanthropic, tertiary, and government bodies all committed to improving health, education and family services systems that shape young lives. With TFFF’s support, TQKP delivers the Thriving Country Queensland Kids Collaborative, designed to support leaders, organisations and practitioners delivering child, youth and family health, development and wellbeing services and initiatives in rural, regional and remote Queensland.

The day concluded with dinner with Dancenorth, attended by Hillary Coyne (Executive Director & Co-CEO), Kyle Page (Artistic Director & Co-CEO), Eloise Grace (Company Producer), and Judith McLean (Chair), which provided a reflective end to a productive day.  Dancenorth is one of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies. Alongside its professional ensemble, touring productions and artist development and leadership initiatives, Dancenorth delivers the TFFF-supported Community Experience Program

TFFF, Brett, Rick, De’arne, and Deadly Start students at Seed Foundation’s offices.

Day Two began with a visit to Seed Foundation, where we shared morning tea with Brett Fragiacomo (Executive Officer), Rick Phineasa (Operational Manager, Townsville), and De’arne French (Administration Manager, Townsville) and looked in on a cohort of Deadly Start students undergoing their Health and Community Services Cert II training. Seed Foundation aims to grow the potential of Australia’s First Peoples by inspiring and promoting self-determination through education, health and employment, and provides holistic support services to improve health, wellbeing and employment outcomes. Its TFFF-supported First Peoples Health Program provides upper secondary and Year 13 students with health literacy education, qualifications, career opportunities, higher educational pathways, and support to navigate and achieve these.

Next, we stopped at the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Queensland State Conference held at The Cathedral School, where we were warmly welcomed by Qld State Council President Wendy Henning. The ICPA strives for equity of access to education for all students who live in rural and remote Queensland. Its policies are formed through motions brought to the state conference each year by branches from across the state. The organisation also provides an opportunity for many departmental representatives, Members of Parliament, Senators and other stakeholders to hear issues and opportunities from those directly experiencing them at its conference. 

ICPA Qld 2024 State Council.

Ningana Trust has supported ICPA Qld since 2011, enabling State Council Members to attend each year’s conference, participate in delegations with state government and peak body representatives, and advocate for rural and remote students’ educational needs. After a brief moment to mingle and explore the extremely well attended conference, Wendy gave the 2024 President’s Welcome, sharing the numerous initiatives ICPA Qld has been involved with over the past year.  After the initial speeches, most of the TFFF group departed back to Brisbane, leaving Katie to attend the full conference over the next two days.

Tim, Gina, and Sarah with Treasurer Amanda Clark (centre) and members of the Belyando-Mt Coolon branch, who hosted this year's conference.

Umbrella Studio, Dancenorth, and Seed Foundation are supported through the Resilience stream. AEIOU Townsville and Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership are supported through the Futureproof stream. ICPA Qld is supported by Ningana Trust.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is Queensland’s premier Indigenous art fair, committed to strengthening and celebrating culture, providing an ethical point of sale for Queensland Indigenous art, and supporting the career development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Established by the Queensland Government in 2009, CIAF transitioned to an independent not-for-profit entity in 2013, and now is governed by majority First Nations leaders. The Fair exists to provide a platform for cultural exchange, collaboration, and economic opportunity for Queensland First Nations artists and Art Centres. CIAF recently announced the appointment of its new CEO, Dennis Stokes, who brings two decades of experience in the arts and media sector and a deep commitment to empowering First Nations voices and self-determination in the arts to the role.

CIAF’s centerpiece is a multi-day art fair, held annually in July at the Cairns Convention Centre and satellite venues within Cairns. Extending beyond a typical marketplace and exhibition showcase, CIAF includes traditional and contemporary live performance: music, song and dance; theatre and fashion; workshops and informative talks. Audiences are treated to programmed conversations, workshops, demonstrations, and experiences designed to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and culture in an immersive and exciting experience.  The Fair is a celebratory event that highlights the importance of culture to the Queensland community, and holds a stand-alone position in the Australian arts landscape as the only event of its type to feature a wide cross section of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts.

A booth at the CIAF 2023 Art Market.

CIAF’s diverse programming offers a range of free and ticketed events, exhibitions, and performances each year. Performances in music, dance, theatre, fashion and more have seen the number of shows and performances increasing each year and frequently selling out.  The Fashion Performance is a stand-out event each year - its unique blend of runway, choreography and song distinguish it from other national Indigenous fashion events, and all three shows sold out in 2023.

CIAF’s 2024 program will celebrate the organisation’s evolution and growth over the past 15 years, featuring hundreds of First Nations artists, performers, fashion designers, and creatives. CIAF’s artistic director, Francoise Lane, said CIAF’s anniversary season is a testament to Queensland’s thriving First Nations arts and culture industry and its place on the world stage.

“From its humble beginnings as an Art Fair, CIAF has evolved into a multifaceted celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, culture, and fashion, featuring artists, performers, and creatives from the Torres Strait, Cape York, and Gulf communities in the north out to western communities and down to the southeast corner.”

Free Coconut Leaf Weaving Workshop, CIAF 2023

CIAF 2024 will be held over four action-packed days, from Thursday 25 July to Sunday 28 July. While CIAF’s event program is predominantly free and for all ages to enjoy, ticketed events include program favourites: the Opening Night Party at Cairns Convention Centre, the two-day Symposium and cultural think tank at Bulmba-ja Arts Centre, highly anticipated ‘Light the Fire’ fashion performances at the Tanks Arts Centre, as well as live music performance, ‘No Shame in My Game’ from First Nations rapper and musician Barkaa, supported by Simone Stacey and held at the Tanks Arts Centre.

CIAF 2024’s theme, ‘Country Speaking’ connects all aspects of the program, providing an opportunity for artists to explore their spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental relationship to Country, a strong First Nations concept embodying 65,000 years of deep connection to the land, waters, skies, and seas.

CIAF will present two satellite events ahead of the Fair, along with a signature 15th anniversary exhibition, ‘Not Selling Cakes’, paying homage to the artists who have contributed to CIAF and the Queensland Indigenous art movement since its inception in 2009.

The second annual Urban BLAKtivation, a family friendly, accessible arts and cultural event with Indigenous dance performances, digital art projections, sculptural art installations, story tellers, and poets will be held in the CBD on Saturday 13 July. It will be followed by CIAF partner Cairns Regional Council event Out on the Lawn, featuring live music from First Nations musicians Kee’ahn, Yirghilya, and Broden Tyrrell at the Cairns Court House lawns.

CIAF 2023 Art Fair attendees take in the woven ghost net sculptures.

In addition to the art fair event, CIAF runs several programs designed to support First Nations artists with the development of their career. The CIAF Collectors and Curators program facilitates meetings with artists, leading to acquisitions for private and public collections worldwide, and has seen increasing success each year. Collectors, curators, and gallery representatives are invited to exclusive CIAF events and exhibitions designed to create opportunities for dialogue between artists and program members. The program has resulted in significant success for CIAF in creating opportunities for artists, as well as significant sales to major cultural institutions across Australia, elevating the profiles of both Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and the event itself.

CIAF visited my studio in early 2022 and invited me to participate in that year’s Fashion Performance. The encouragement alone gave me the confidence to work on my ‘Tawalpin-String Making’ collection and then to again bring my 2023 collection ‘dilly bag and mat making’. This exposure and experience quickly led to work with Mob in Fashion, La Boite Theatre, and designing
garments for the 2023 Oscars and Logies. I’m forever grateful to CIAF.

- Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, First nations artist and designer.

The CIAF Indigenous Art Awards were created in 2017 to provide an opportunity for artists to increase their profile in the pursuit of innovation and excellence. As a showcase of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, the Art Awards have been successful in driving the quality of exhibited work and elevating the excellence of Indigenous artists.

CIAF plays a critical role in strengthening Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by providing artists the opportunity to share stories, collaborate and celebrate their connection to Culture and Country. The Fair also provides an important interface for the non-Indigenous community to experience Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture and purchase artwork in an ethically run marketplace. The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is a new TFFF partner and is supported through the Resilience stream, which provides multi-year general operational support funding. The TFFF recognises the value of providing support to strengthen CIAF’s operational capacity and aims to empower CIAF, and organisations like it, to focus on its strategic objectives and effectively realise its goals. CIAF will utilise TFFF funds to expand its Fashion Performance event and fulfil its vision of delivering a nationally recognised First Nations fashion show showcasing excellence in fashion and textile design.

Cover photo: CIAF 2023 Opening Night. All photos courtesy of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is supported through the Resilience stream.

Developed, governed, and led by First Nations men, Brother to Another envisions a future where First Nations families live strong in culture and identity.

Brother to Another’s focus centres on keeping young people out of the juvenile justice system in the Northern Territory, while guiding and empowering First Nations young people, families, and communities to heal and realise their full potential.  Brother to Another works as a change maker in the community, strategizing for systems redevelopment and change.

First Nations children and adolescents represent over 95% of the youth detention population and 80% of children taken into the child protection system on any given day in the Northern Territory. Despite this severe over-representation of First Nations youth and families, there are few First Nations-led, local services in the Darwin region. Focused on keeping young people out of detention, Brother to Another addresses both the practical needs and the emotional, mental, and social well-being of young men between eight and twenty-four years old, and provides mentoring, counselling, job training and educational re-engagement opportunities.

Brother to Another began as a volunteer program in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2019, with youth-led activities guided by Founder and CEO Jye Cardona. During these sessions, the young people in Don Dale expressed their frustrations that services led by First Nations men were not available to them. Brother to Another was formed to support the young men in Don Dale who were disconnected from their families and culture. Many of these young men also lack access to education and health services and often are experiencing untreated neurodivergence.

Brother to Another On Country day on Kungarakan country.

As part of its focus on strong, genuine relationships, Brother to Another recognises the power of lived experience. Its team of four, all First Nations men, are each able to share their knowledge and experiences of life as First Nations people, their places in society, and their knowledge of the systems which disproportionately affect the First Nations youth and families Brother to Another supports.

Named by the young people in B Block at Don Dale, Brother to Another has developed its suite of programs and services in collaboration with the young people and families it serves. Since its inception, the First Nations young men and families experiencing the Northern Territory youth detention system have shaped Brother to Another into a case management, systems change, and mentoring service that is First Nations led and engages in strength, opportunity, and culture.

Brother to Another On Country Galiwin’ku trip with Yalu Aboriginal Corporation to the men and boys youth camp.

Brother to Another’s services and programs are designed to support the social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing of the young people and families they connect with. Unlike traditional case management, Brother to Another provides on-the-ground mentoring, after-hours engagement, educational classes, cultural immersion days, and a well-being hub that not only youth but families attend. This well-being hub offers a sensory room, art supplies, yarning circles, a gym, native gardening, a shed for work experience, a computer for life admin and employment support, but perhaps most importantly a place for youth to safely connect with their peers, families, and the community.

Brother to Another works to support the entire family unit, strategically positioning young people and families to have improved access to social activities, appointments, healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. It engages with young people and families in various settings in the community – within watch houses and youth detention, at home, and in community and education settings. It aims to identify and address gaps in current service delivery and improve the effectiveness of support in the sector, such as providing additional education support for young people who are ostracised from mainstream schooling due to their involvement with youth detention, and actively engaging with schools and community organisations to create an ecosystem of support.

Supporting, advocating for, and empowering young people and their families to have a voice and decision-making capability is at the forefront of everything Brother to Another does. It is committed to meeting young people and families where they are and providing them with responsive and culturally appropriate support to build life skills, conduct work experience, learn self-regulation skills, engage in positive peer engagement, and reconnect with family.

Brother to Another understands the complex needs and circumstances of First Nations youth and their families who are at risk of or engaged with the Northern Territory juvenile justice system and is increasingly realising its role in creating systems change. Brother to Another is a new TFFF partner and is supported through the Resilience stream, which provides multi-year general operational support funding. The TFFF recognises the value of providing support to strengthen Brother to Another’s operational capacity and aims to empower Brother to Another, and organisations like it, to focus on its strategic objectives and effectively realise its goals.

Cover photo: Brother to Another On Country day. All photos courtesy of Brother to Another.

Brother to Another is supported through the Resilience stream.

Established in 1972, Brown’s Mart provides a home for the Northern Territory's performing arts scene, celebrating the talent, passion, and legacy of NT performing artists. Based in Darwin on Larrakia Country, it serves as both a versatile venue for hire and a dynamic organisation, curating an annual program of professional productions and community experiences.

Brown’s Mart is central to the Top End's live performance ecosystem, connecting artists living and working in the Territory with national opportunities, and is the leading developer, producer, and presenter of new performance works from Territory artists. Year-round, its performance spaces hold events from theatre productions and live music performances to much-loved annual festivals and community events.

Brown’s Mart’s range of programs and partnerships operate across four distinct program streams: Performance, New Work, Arts & Community, and Hires. Its 2024 Performance program will present unique experiences to its audience every two weeks, with a new model that aims to deliver smaller works, more often. Events cover the full span of performance: large scale song and movement productions, like the World Premiere of Song Spirals, co-presented with Darwin Festival in August, to a series of performed playreadings, one-time-only intimate concerts, local musicians performing live every Friday in the Brown’s Mart Courtyard, self-directed performance experiments, and sponsored opportunities for local collectives to perform in the Brown’s Mart Theatre. With more events to be announced throughout the year, the 2024 program promises “moments to connect, recharge and come together in intimate spaces and joyous celebrations.”

Hymns for the Witching Hour by Kuya James. Image Credit: Charlie Bliss Creative.

One of Brown’s Mart’s defining features is its commitment to fostering emerging talent and supporting the careers of local artists. Through a range of programs, residencies, workshops, and initiatives, Brown’s Mart provides invaluable opportunities for artists to hone their craft, collaborate with peers, and engage with the community. Its New Work program stream includes residency and mentorship programs, an experimental performance program, and flagship initiative BUILD UP, which offers funding, office and rehearsal space, mentoring and advocacy to support the development of performance work across a range of artforms, artists, and cultural practices. Several new works developed through the program have had their premieres programmed as part of Darwin Festival,  receiving wide audience viewership and acclaim.

Brown’s Mart is committed to providing a supportive home for artists and the broader community, promoting and advocating for Territory artists and working with them to offer greater access and deeper engagement wherever it can. Reflecting this, Brown’s Mart’s team includes three Artistic Associates, Cj Fraser-Bell, James Mangohig, and Nadine Birrimilunngga Lee, all multi-disciplinary artists living and working in the Top End. Nadine, along with Rachael Chisholm, Rob Collins, and Rosealee Pearson, is also a member of Brown’s Mart’s First Nations Advisory group. Established in 2022, the Group provides invaluable consultation and advice on supporting First Nations artists and projects, cultural safety and learning, and development opportunities.

The Messenger by Ross Mueller. Image Credit: Paz Tassone.

Building on this initiative, Brown’s Mart launched the First Nations Engagement Program in 2023, responding directly to recommendations from the Advisory Group. Led by the First Nations Community Engagement Coordinator, this program aims to create a welcoming, inclusive, and culturally safe space, encouraging collaboration and participation from the First Nations community across the Northern Territory, with a particular focus on building engagement with First Nations audiences and nurturing future generations in the performing arts.

Its Arts & Community program stream is dedicated to sharing its resources, providing advice, auspicing grants, mentorship, and working closely with artists to identify professional development strategies and opportunities. The Darwin Fringe Festival, the largest platform for emerging artists in the Top End, provides opportunities for independent artists to emerge, experiment and showcase new and diverse works in Darwin, and has run from Brown’s Mart since the Fringe’s inception. In addition to this, Brown’s Mart provides venue, technician, and equipment hire both on and offsite through its Hires stream, supporting events both within and outside of the performing arts sector.

Brown’s Mart has been a TFFF partner organisation since 2018, seeing the development of the Brown’s Mart Education Program (2018-2020), and was recently supported through the Resilience stream, which provides multi-year general operational support funding.

Hymns for the Witching Hour by Kuya James. Image Credit: Charlie Bliss Creative.

Cover photo: Hymns for the Witching Hour by Kuya James. Image Credit: Charlie Bliss Creative. All photos courtesy of Brown's Mart.

Brown's Mart is supported through the Resilience stream.

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s (UniSC) School of Education and Tertiary Access (SETA) has a long-standing relationship with TFFF, having delivered the Rural and Remote Education Program for over a decade.  The Program is a collaboration with almost 100 state and independent schools and provides bursaries and annual immersion trips for preservice teachers to experience life and teaching in a rural, regional, or remote context.

Attracting and retaining teachers in rural, regional, and remote schools is a persistent challenge, marked by staff shortages and excessive workloads that have dramatically worsened in recent years. The 2017 Independent Review into Regional, Rural, and Remote Education highlighted this as “one of the most persistent challenges on the ‘education agenda’”. Despite nearly a third of teachers working in rural, regional, and remote settings, educating over a quarter of Australia’s students, recruitment and retention remain challenging, particularly for those with teaching experience.

Queensland, in particular, faces a crisis of staff shortages. Research commissioned by the Queensland College of Teachers in 2019 found that one in six teachers leave the profession within four years, with current attrition rates likely higher. A Question on Notice response in Queensland’s Parliament in 2022 revealed statewide teaching vacancies increased by 38 percent from 2021 to 2022, peaking at 1,050 teacher vacancies in May 2022 compared to 760 in the same period in 2021. In the regions, the shortage was more acute: the North Coast region experienced a staggering 573 percent increase in vacancies. Other regions saw similar spikes, with Far North Queensland the only region that saw a decrease in vacancies, from 209 in 2021 to 161 in 2022.

Teachers from rural backgrounds show a greater inclination to seek rural teaching jobs, drawn to the appeal of small-sized classes and the opportunity for personal connections with students and their families. Despite challenges like poorly resourced schools, they value the relationships and sense of community rural teaching positions offer. In a study in the Australian Journal of Education, Professors John Buchanan and Paul Burke of the University of Technology Sydney propose early introduction to rural teaching as a strategic approach.

Teacher education should prepare pre-service teachers for the circumstances they will encounter in rural schools. Core units of study on the dynamics of rural and remote teaching are called for,” says Professor Buchanan. “Rural educational disadvantage should be prioritised as a matter of social justice.”

“Pre-service teachers who gain experiences in a rural school are more likely to teach in rural schools. Even field trips to rural locations can develop confidence about rural or remote teaching,” says Professor Burke.

The Rural and Remote Education Program assists with planning and the financial hardship associated with rural and remote placements, while Coast to Country trips offer pre-service teachers rich immersion experiences through which students can see the best of rural and remote Queensland community lifestyles.  Both program elements aim to support decision making upon graduation that secures high-quality teachers for rural and remote schools.

Since 2010, the TFFF and UniSC partnership has enabled 803 bursary-funded placements. This has resulted in teachers accepting positions in rural, regional, and remote schools and the provision of a quality education to children and families in those areas. These bursaries ensure UniSC can deliver life-changing experiences for students and positive outcomes for rural and remote communities.

The students’ positive experiences during these placements often lead to valuable employment opportunities and help address some of the teacher shortages in rural and remote communities.

 The impact these teachers have on rural communities cannot be underestimated, and many of our teachers say they get so much in return from the children, families and communities they work in.

- Professor Helen Bartlett, UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President

Financial support and rich immersion experiences provided by UniSC's Rural and Remote Education Program during pre-service teachers' placements have led to valuable employment opportunities. These teachers have a significant impact on rural communities, and many of them have continued to teach in remote locations.

Bursary recipients Denby Batista and Raquel Remigio-Smith both participated in a Coast to Country trip before going on to placements at rural schools. Denby described her time in Blackwater, near Rockhampton, as incredibly memorable.

“[Blackwater State School] welcomed us with open arms and warmth and care. The students that we worked with offered me a whole new perspective on education and the varying needs of students across Queensland.”

Raquel’s placement took place in Moranbah, near Mackay, in “an environment which radiates warmth and inclusivity.”

“The four weeks I spent there were irreplaceable. It showed me the profound impact that quality education can have on the futures of individuals and communities in rural and remote regions of Queensland.”

Raquel Remigio-Smith (second from right) with fellow student teachers at Moranbah State School.

Denby and Raquel will both return to their respective schools for their final practical experience this year.

Past recipient Blaire Thompson taught in Innisfail, Far North Queensland, an experience that she says was unique.

“I find country kids are more open to forming positive relationships with their teachers, and in doing so we build a sense of community, which has probably been the best part.”

"I never thought I'd be so passionate about it, but coming up here has definitely opened my eyes to how impactful teaching can be, especially for rural students.”

Fellow past recipient Maxine Kirby’s first remote placement occurred in Dysart, near Mackay, where she taught for four years before transferring to Gindie, near Emerald. Here, she had the opportunity to step into a leadership role, serving as the school’s principal from 2019-2020.

Maxine received a Tim Fairfax Family Foundation bursary while in her final year of university, and says it made a “huge difference.”

It gives people who have that curiosity the push to give it a go.”

Read more about Blaire and Maxine’s experiences here.

Cover photo courtesy of Marie Dunn. All photos courtesy of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The University of the Sunshine Coast's School of Education and Tertiary Access is supported through the Leadership stream.

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

Eastern Arrernte Country

Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School (LACS) is one of the most successful remote Aboriginal schools in central Australia and the NT. It is the only school serving the 600-strong community of Ltyentye Apurte (pronounced ‘L-Ginga Porter’, meaning ‘clump of beefwood trees’ in the Arrernte language) or Santa Teresa. A number of the facilities at LACS are communal, notably the library and computers. The community is 83 km south east of Alice Springs in semi-desert country. Temperatures are extreme, ranging from -1 to 45 degrees but there is year-round access via an unsealed road.

The local Arrernte people are bilingual and speak Eastern Arrernte and English (which is often their second or third language). The Arrernte language and cultural program is a key part of the curriculum at LACS.

In Santa Teresa, extreme socio-economic disadvantage is the norm, with residents and the school facing many challenges, notably extremely poor housing and health, high unemployment with minimal employment opportunities, adults suffering from poor mental health and a high number of students suffering from intergenerational trauma. Remote schools in general have a major issue with teacher retention due to the complex challenges of students and their families. The average stay of a teacher in NT schools is 7 months; 9 months in catholic schools. Existing senior staff frequently work 80 hour weeks, regularly wearing multiple hats in part due to a lack of teachers.

According to the Principal at the time, the future of Santa Teresa depends to a great extent on the school providing the optimal best education for Santa Teresa youth: “To make the remote community of Santa Teresa strong, we must make its school strong.”

In 2022, there were 126 students enrolled, from Pre-School to Year 11. All students are Indigenous and bilingual. Most of the teachers at LACS are non-Indigenous and come with a range of experience from mainstream education. The school is also a major employer of the local Arrernte people, with approximately 60% of Indigenous staff filling a multitude of critical support roles. Teachers work as members of a team in partnership with local Indigenous people and Arrernte assistant teachers and tutors.

Isolation and the challenges of living and working in a community context mean that staff need all the support they can get in terms of building resilience. Ongoing change is the norm, with 2020 and 2021 seeing even higher levels of change and uncertainty. There is often a significant turnover of new staff, which presents additional challenges to building trust and a resilient community.

The impacts of these factors are substantial, including very high levels of stress, distraction from the mission of educating students, lower engagement, uncertainty about the future, change fatigue, staff burnout, talent loss and lower trust in leaders.

To try to address this, the Principal at the time knew they needed to help teachers and staff build resilience, sustainable high performance and change agility. They used a $10,000 grant from FRRR, through the Strengthening Rural Communities program, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, to run the Resilient Educators Program (REP).

The REP began with all teachers completing a Resilience Diagnostic, prior to a two-day workshop. The Diagnostic measured individual resilience in areas such as emotional regulation, self-confidence, compassion, exercise, sleep and nutrition. Staff then participated in a two-day workshop, facilitated by Paul Salmon, called “Thriving Through Change and Challenge”. Each staff member created three goals to help improve their resilience and the option of having an accountability buddy or sessions with a resilience coach to support them in reaching their goals.

After the workshop, the teachers were given access to an app, which provided a detailed resilience report and materials to develop new skills. They also committed to participating in a range of activities in smaller groups and with the whole staff community, such as an evening walking group, weekend trips away and a regular BBQ breakfast. This was followed up with a visit from the Resilience coach, which led to three shared goals being created.

Despite challenges in rolling this out due to the pandemic and its subsequent impacts, staff collaborated to implement wellbeing activities based on their learnings from the workshops and the ongoing use of the Resilience App. They continue to come together as a community to support one another in challenging times.

The outcome has been an improvement on the health and wellbeing of the whole community.

“All staff became more aware of the importance of resilience and the necessity to plan for how to manage stress and cope with the added burden of the pandemic. There is also a greater understanding by leadership of the necessity to prioritise staff wellbeing through strategic planning using an integrated holistic approach,” said Pamela Brown, Acting Principal.

“It has become part of our school culture for staff to check in with each other on how they are travelling, especially concerning sleep, exercise and levels of stress. It is now becoming part of our meetings to start with a partner check in or short meditation activity. We introduced a new wellbeing curriculum program, MindUp for Life, which not only teaches the knowledge and skills children need to regulate their stress and emotion but also supports teachers in building positive relationships with students and the broader community."

“There is a more holistic focus on wellbeing and resilience with an area created in the staffroom where staff relax and do mindful colouring. Plus, there are opportunities for staff to publicly acknowledge and show gratitude for effort, and pampering products for staff in our rest rooms.”

Staff participating in the Resilient Educators Program.

Cover photo: Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School.

All photos courtesy of FRRR and Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School.

Originally written and published by FRRR on 10 November 2022.

The TFFF thanks Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School for providing permission to reproduce this story.  

Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School is supported through the Connectedness stream in partnership with FRRR.

artisan has been Queensland’s home of craft and design for over 50 years. As the peak body representing makers across the state, it works to support vibrant and thriving communities of craft and design practice while advocating for sector recognition and promoting and supporting contemporary craft and design practices.

artisan provides a platform for emerging and established practitioners alike to showcase their talents, experiment with new techniques, and push the boundaries of traditional craft and design. As a service organisation it offers an incredibly varied range of programs and initiatives, both to the artists it supports and to the public. Featuring a variety of mediums, from ceramics and textiles to jewellery and furniture, artisan’s exhibitions and workshops not only celebrate the skill and craftsmanship of the artists involved but also encourage dialogue and engagement within the broader community.

In 2018, artisan moved to a purpose-built premises on King Street in Bowen Hills, Meanjin (Brisbane) which serves as a hub for exhibitions, workshops, masterclasses, and retail (in-person and online stores) providing a platform to showcase the excellence and diversity of Queensland, Australian, and international craft and design. Here, co-directors Cassandra Lehman and Simone Linssen coordinate innovative ways for the public to engage with craft and design.

artisan gallery, King Street. Elizabeth Shaw and Jeffrey Shaw, Shaw and Shaw: Radical Localism exhibition, 2021.

As a small organisation supporting a diverse and widespread sector, artisan collaborates with individual artists and organisations across Queensland to ensure regional areas of the state see equal inclusion and representation. artisan's major biennial exhibition project, Unleashed, explores the convergence between art and design and platforms the work of emerging regional artists. Unleashed provides an opportunity for emerging artists to showcase their work, make new connections, and acts as a launching point for their future careers.

In addition to facilitating Brisbane based residencies for regional practitioners, artisan provides regional residency programs and further exhibition opportunities for Queensland artists outside metropolitan areas through partnerships with Cooroy Butter Factory Art Centre, Canberra Glassworks, and The Jam Factory.

artisan's partnership with sponsor Wonderkarma has paved the way for a series of exhibitions to tour regional Queensland in 2024, fostering stronger ties with regional artists and audiences. This partnership has also conceived the Find | Keep | Make program, a 2-year ongoing professional development project offering opportunities and support to emerging curators and practitioners. Through the program, students are mentored to develop skills and gain professional experience in exhibiting curated and original objects.

To celebrate its first exhibitions of 2024, artisan is holding a free opening night event at the Bowen Hills premises on Friday, 23 February. Daniel Agdag's The Public Office features intricate cardboard models and a mesmerising stop-motion video; Glen Skien's Object Poems delves into the human condition; Jessica Nothdurft's Silly Girl presents small bronzes; and Jean Bennett's Touched explores textiles, sculpture, and mixed media.

In addition to attending exhibitions, artisan provides many exciting and innovative ways for the public to participate in craft and design and support artists – to suit every taste, design aesthetic, or level of experience. Online and in-person workshops, available to book on artisan’s website, offer instruction in paper art, textiles, clothing, embroidery, and working with clay, wood, and metal.

For those who may be less interested in creating their own works, artisan’s physical and online store is well stocked with an incredible range of jewellery, accessories, sculpture, and homewares.

As a not-for-profit organisation, artisan relies on the support of its community and philanthropic partners to continue its work in shaping the future of Queensland’s craft and design sector.

artisan is a new TFFF partner and is supported through the Resilience stream, which provides multi-year general operational support funding. The TFFF recognises the value of providing support to strengthen artisan’s operational capacity and aims to empower artisan, and organisations like it, to focus on its strategic objectives and effectively realise its goals.

Cover photo: artisan store front, King Street gallery and store launch, 2018. All photos courtesy of artisan.

artisan is supported through the Resilience stream.

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.

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