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:
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. 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.
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.
Cover photo courtesy of Children's Ground.
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.
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.
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.