Join us as we walk alongside First Nations communities as they achieve their own development goals, harness their existing strengths, and create solutions and advocate for their own challenges.

Since 1974, we have been adapting our successful community-led development approach in partnership with First Nations organisations and communities. We are committed to positive outcomes for children, young people and families, so that First Nations children across Australia can thrive and live life in all its fullness.

How we partner with First Nations communities

Culturally strong early learning

When we invest in a child’s early years, we invest in their future. Supporting locally-run playgroups and providing support for parents means First Nations children no longer fall behind in developmental milestones. “My favourite part about playgroup is going out with the elders and teaching the kids about the Warlpiri themes. This is important for all of us and our culture.” – playgroup parent

Strengthening bilingual literacy skills

Supporting early learning programs that are conducted in both traditional language and English to increase "both-ways" learning. One of the communities recently celebrated the work the children had achieved at the Ninu Kurlu, All About Bilbies book launch. These events raise the agenda of literacy within community, and the children's faces reflect excitement and pride in what they had created.

First Nations young people are taking charge of their futures

A strong cultural identity and connection to country is vital to the health, social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations young people. Through Young Mob and IMPACT programs, they can deepen their connections to culture and community, which helps improve their confidence, personal growth and development for life, education and work.

Challenging domestic and family violence

Faith leaders can have a powerful influence on community attitudes and behaviours. Channels of Hope for Gender mobilises existing local leadership to address gender-based inequality and violence in congregations and the wider community.

Advocacy - Your voice counts

Together, let’s challenge practices and attitudes that lie at the heart of inequality. This includes working with governments to shape fairer policies in Australia for First Nations people.  Your voice counts as we campaign on the hard issues and call for change from transformative policy change to law reform and justice.

Our community development approach

Our community development approach

We understand that community ownership, support and leadership is critical to the realisation of community aspirations. We offer a holistic approach that recognises that no-one holds all the answers, and that complex challenges require multiple perspectives, innovation and adaptability with strong community guidance and leadership. We pride ourselves on listening well, taking time to get things right in partnership and making sure we create safe and strong spaces for meaningful dialogue and discussion.
Working in partnership, sharing skills and knowledge with others and learning from them are central to our approach. We support the work of First Nations communities and organisations to deliver on their own aspirations. We often support communities to identify approaches, services and programs that can respond to their priorities and goals. This includes identifying available resources and facilitating partnerships with potential funders, as well as with organisations that can deliver on the ground.
We focus on issues, strengths and solutions in local contexts and recognise that the unique history, culture and context of each community is an important factor in finding answers to complex problems. Our aim is to explore these elements in partnership, learning from communities to create programs (e.g. Young Mob, Martu Leadership Program) or to tailor and adapt evidence-based programs to local places and contexts (e.g. ECCD, Channels of Hope for Gender, Unlock Literacy).
We recognise the existing array of knowledge, skills and capacities within First Nations communities and organisations. We support these and collaborate in ways to enhance and grow them. We take the time to listen and learn from others to develop solutions that come from these strengths. Too often these have been ignored or glossed over by mainstream systems and Governments that fail to invest in longer-term processes that provide the foundations for these strengths to drive change.
Strong and respectful relationships and partnerships are fundamental to longer-term sustainable change. We know that local partners are the key to longer-term sustainability and we play a supportive role to their lead. Strong relationships are what enables us to work in strong collaborative ways and obtain community support and buy-in to the work we undertake together.
From our experiences working with communities and collaborating with First Nations Elders, leaders and academics, we have developed a practice framework that acknowledges and embeds the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spirituality through connection to language, land, law, kinship, and ceremony. This is reflected in our community engagement processes for all stages of our projects and attention to protocols, language and respect for community processes, events and decisions.
An important element of our work is supporting community priorities that children as well as adults are learning ‘both ways’. We support ‘mainstream’ learning alongside culture and language and build this into projects (e.g. bush playgroups, cultural camps for young people, development of resources in language, guidance from Elders etc.). The involvement of cultural authorities in our work ensures we work with the right people at the right time in the right way.
Our development expertise and technical knowledge are major assets that we bring to partnerships. This includes sector-based experience (e.g. ECCD, youth) as well as advocacy, grants, facilitating linkages to our own partners and networks, coordinating events and training, and so on.
We also recognise that there is a wealth of good news stories that do not get aired in the media and in reporting on programs. We are committed to amplifying the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities. We place high importance on telling the story of our shared work to a variety of audiences.

Your support means belonging, being and becoming

Despite the many barriers faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities in their efforts to build a better future for themselves, we recognise their strengths, leadership, knowledge and expertise in developing meaningful solutions to complex challenges.
With your support we can continue our work that offers a unique and innovative approach to creating sustainable change for First Nations children, families and communities. With almost 50 years of working with First Nations communities, we develop projects using evidence-based models, tailored through community-led approaches that focus on the systemic and root causes of disadvantage.

How you can invest in community-led change 

Your generous donation can help create a lasting impact in the lives of First Nations children and young people, their families and communities in Australia.
Join us to partner with First Nations communities as we support them to lead their own development and create a life in all its fullness for their children and families. You can be part of this journey and a part of our shared story – connecting with, and listening to, the voice of First Nations people.