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.

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.

At a celebratory lunch in the Brisbane City Hall today, Gina Fairfax AC was named Community Philanthropist of the Year. The awards, which are the culmination of Philanthropy Week in Queensland, highlight the diversity of the sector in the state while celebrating some individuals who have made on-going contributions to the for-purpose sector.

Gina Fairfax is well-known in Queensland: for more than 20 years, she has given extensively to support charitable causes, volunteered on for-purpose boards, and delivered Meals on Wheels. In partnership with her husband Tim, their year-on-year contributions to Brisbane Festival has been significant and since 2018 she has directly supported the commissioning of new contemporary works and enabled artists to live and thrive in Queensland.

As a Trustee of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Gina has overseen the distribution of $54 million, including substantial contributions to Queensland arts initiatives. Gina and Tim Fairfax AC were last year made Life Members of Philanthropy Australia.

Gina is Chair of Ningana Trust and through the Trust has distributed impactful grants to organisations working in Queensland and Northern Territory improving the lives of young people, particularly women and children experiencing disadvantage, for almost 20 years.

As volunteer President of the Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland, Gina raises funds to support projects which assist rural Queenslanders suffering from breast cancer or prostate cancer. As a volunteer Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Monday Art (QAGOMA), Gina oversees two State institutions. Queensland Arts Gallery was established in 1895 and the Gallery of Modern Art opened in 2006. The galleries house a globally significant collection of contemporary art from Australia, Asia, and the Pacific.

Gina served as a volunteer Director of La Boite Theatre for nine years. La Boite is Australia’s longest continuously running theatre company, celebrating its 100th year of operation in 2025.

Gina is Cultural Patron of Flying Arts Alliance. Flying Arts Alliance is an arts and cultural development organisation which has been delivering visual arts projects and services to regional and remote Queensland communities since 1971.

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