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.

An hour outside of the Brisbane CBD in the picturesque Lockyer Valley region is the rural town of Laidley. Back in March, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff enjoyed an early morning drive to visit the Laidley Community Centre (LCC), which has been in funding since 2019.

A weekly Under 5's Playgroup session, held with a focus on parental engagement.
Photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Despite its relative proximity to metropolitan centres, Laidley’s population experiences significant socio-economic disadvantage, placing it in the lowest 5% when compared with the national average (SEIFA). Various factors influence this: high elderly and youth populations, lower than average median household income, greater number of single-occupant households, twice the average youth unemployment rate, and lack of sufficient public transport to reach employment.

TFFF Trustees, Advisors, and staff visit Laidley Community Centre.
Photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Incorporated in 1988, Laidley Community Centre is a crucial pillar of this resilient community, providing support to people working through financial, housing, natural disaster or domestic crises, while also assisting residents to develop their potential to make a difference in their own lives, families, workplaces and communities. LCC works to achieve this through a varied and comprehensive service offering, including a neighbourhood centre, emergency, natural disaster and food relief, social enterprise café Community Grounds, Centrelink and tax assistance, and children’s and parents’ programs. Its impact extends far beyond the immediate township, reaching people from Plainland, Forest Hill, Grandchester and Mulgowie.

The purpose of TFFF’s visit was to see LCC’s flagship Early Connections Project (ECP) in action, and meet some of the young families involved. The Early Connections Project grew from an increasing need to better support children under five years old who are experiencing developmental or social challenges. It’s the driver for increased coordination across local programs and partners to support parents and carers to give children the best start in life, from pregnancy through to commencing school. Communal efforts like ECP enable early identification of vulnerable children — the first vital step in connecting them and their families with required supports. Early assistance is also the best strategy to enable longer term outcomes that break the cycle of disadvantage, like overall positive engagement with the education system.

Janella Cox has been LCC’s Early Childhood Worker for several years now and has delivered an extensive list of achievements together with Centre Manager Alana Wahl and volunteers. TFFF was fortunate to participate in a session of the weekly facilitated Under 5’s Playgroup, with a focus on parental engagement.

We were proud to host the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation last week as they met with us to discuss the impacts and strategies of our Early Connections Project. The TFFF has generously been funding this program for the past four years and enabling us to make an impact on the youngest members of our community and their parents. This project strives to ensure local families are connected, and able to link into any needed support at the earliest opportunity so that children have the best chance at positive outcomes once they start school (and beyond!). We are so grateful to the TFFF and wanted to take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the community.

—      Alana Wahl
Manager, LCC

Feature photo courtesy of Laidley Community Centre.

Thank you to LCC’s Manager Alana Wahl, Chair Adrian Shepley and ECP Coordinator Janella Cox for the invitation to visit and for your warm country hospitality.

Laidley Community Centre is funded through the Resilience stream.

Each year at the start of August, Darwin becomes the focal point for Australia’s best First Nations artists from a variety of disciplines. The opening weeks of August are host to the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF)National Indigenous Fashion Awards, the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs)Darwin Festival, and Telstra’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAAs) housed at the Museum and Art Gallery NT (MAGNT). It’s a remarkable time to be in the Top End and presented an opportune moment for the TFFF to visit the city and take in these important events in Australia’s cultural calendar.

Having postponed this visit last year due to a COVID outbreak, Tim, Gina, Lucy, Neal, and Hannah were pleased to make the trip in 2022. It’s hard to overstate the cultural and economic impact that this critical mass of activity has for Darwin and the flow on benefits back to remote and regional Indigenous communities.

The DAAF team delivered an impressive feat this year — returning to an in-person delivery of the three-day event whilst continuing to offer the online marketplace which exploded with popularity in 2020 and 2021. As a partner of DAAF for several years, it was an occasion to finally be on the ground experiencing the flurry of activity in the Convention Centre, and reconnecting with many Art Centres that TFFF has supported or is currently funding, including Milingimbi Art and Culture, Ngaruwanajirri, Bábbarra Women’s Centre and Bindi Mwerre Anthu Artists.

TFFF congratulates DAAF for curating a fantastic program while continuing to grow the Fair each year (over 70 Art Centres participated in 2022), always conscious of providing the best experience for Indigenous Art Centres and Fair attendees. The TFFF team certainly returned home with heavier suitcases and over-flowing carry-on luggage.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2022. Photo credit: Dylan Buckee.

The opportunity to meet with Darwin Festival’s outgoing and incoming Artistic Directors was a welcome one. Felix Preval leaves after six years and hands the baton on to Kate Fell now, formerly of Brisbane Festival. It was great to celebrate Felix’s success and learn a little bit about Kate’s vision for the Festival’s future. We also attend two shows in the Festival program, Wana: Spirit a collaboration between NT Dance Company and Darwin Symphony Orchestra, and Raghav Handa’s TWO a piece of contemporary Indian Kathak, presented at Browns Mart Theatre. 

Our travelling party attended a panel hosted by Agency, which gave us an insight into the key issues facing Aboriginal Art Centres in remote and regional areas. It was important to hear from community leaders and Elders about their cultural leadership practices and, in their own words, what they most want for their communities and artists.

At various stages of the weekend, we were joined by sector colleagues who were also visiting Darwin including Charlie Cush and Louise Bezzina from Brisbane Festival, Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey from Aboriginal Art Co, Fiona Menzies and Jayne Lovelock from Creative Partnerships Australia, and Erin Lew Fatt a current Australian Rural Leadership Program scholarship recipient. Each of our colleagues added interesting and valuable insight to our experience and it was a good reminder of the collegiate and informed nature of the Australian arts sector.

Thank you to both Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Darwin Festival for hosting the TFFF during our time in Darwin, and for making our visit both enjoyable and educational.

Camerata — Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra has recently returned from a triumphant tour of regional Queensland, travelling over 2,900km to Mackay, Rockhampton, Emerald, Barcaldine, and Longreach in May 2022.

This year’s tour itinerary was ambitious in scale with six concerts of the ‘Classical Reimagined’ programme — which included a new commission, Central Highland Rounds, written by Emerging Composer-in-Residence Alexander Voltz — as well as workshops with school students and local musicians, and special performances for aged care residents and kindergarten children. After a prestissimo eleven days on the road, Camerata was thrilled to crunch the numbers and report a ‘best-ever’ attendance record.

Flying into Mackay on Friday 6 May, the tour started with performances at the Pioneer Community KindergartenKookaburra Child Care Centre, and Glenella Care Centre. Then it was over to Mackay North State High School for a workshop with music students before a joint performance for the school community. Camerata was joined onstage by the Mackay Choral Society for evening and matinee performances presented at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

The Rockhampton leg saw Camerata spend time with the town’s tiniest residents at Rockhampton South Kindergarten and C&K Leichhardt Community Kindergarten before skipping across to North Rockhampton State High School for another afternoon of workshops and in-school performances. Evening rehearsal saw players rehearse a new Rockhampton Symphony Orchestra (RSO) commission from composer Christopher Healy (the artist behind Camerata’s inaugural tour commission), which was expertly worked into the Classical Reimagined concert the following day at the Pilbeam Theatre.  

Camerata quintet performing for Kookaburra Child Care Centre. Photo courtesy of Camerata.

“Thank you for what you have invested in Rockhampton and regional QLD. You have sown seeds of music to our kindy kids for the first time in their life. You have inspired our school students and made some of their dreams come true. You have blessed our elderly by reaching out to them with a beautiful afternoon of music when they are not mobile enough to go to concerts. Thank you and can’t wait to have you back.” 

— Rockhampton community member

The Emerald community turned out in force at the Town Hall on Thursday 12 May to see students from Emerald State School perform in concert with Camerata. This performance was particularly resonant with the home premiere of new composition Central Highland Rounds by Emerging Composer in Residence Alex Voltz, who drew inspiration from Emerald’s landscape, industry and friendly locals in the creative process.

Then it was on to Barcaldine and more education workshops with Barcaldine Prep-12 State School, whose students also took to the stage with Camerata at Town Hall for the evening community performance. Camerata also treated locals to a pop-up performance at the Tree of Knowledge memorial. You can watch a video of this performance here.

Camerata’s 2022 Regional Tour concluded with two final days in Longreach, performing for the residents of Bolton Clarke Pioneers retirement village in the morning on Sunday 15 May, and then welcoming the whole community to Edkins Park in the afternoon for the closing ‘Classical Reimagined’ concert, this time with Corinne Ballard MusicLongreach Town Band and students from Longreach State School and Longreach State High School as special guests. The tour wrapped on Monday with one more education day with music students from Longreach School of Distance Education. And just like that, it was time for Camerata to return to Brisbane.

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation commends Camerata — Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra for the community-centred design of its 2022 Regional Tour, and joins with those in Mackay, Rockhampton, Emerald, Barcaldine and Longreach in congratulating them on this highly successful and celebratory tour of central Queensland.  

More photos from the tour are published on Camerata’s Facebook page.

Jonny Ng, Principal Second Violin & Education Manager, talking with Sasha, a student from Emerald State School. Photo by Morgan Roberts.
The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation is based in Meanjin (Brisbane).