From the General Manager

Kellie Graves, Tjindu Foundation General Manager

What a year it’s been!

After just two years, the Tjindu Foundation has achieved some fantastic results for Aboriginal young people in South Australia, and we’re already looking forward to what’s ahead for 2023 (after a well-earned break over the Christmas New Year period).

As we wind-down for the year, it’s a great time to look back and reflect on what the Tjindu Foundation – with the help of our Foundation partners, families, students, donors and other supporters – has achieved.

In 2023, the Tjindu Foundation:

  • Had 46 students complete the Aboriginal AFL Academy Program, including 15 Year 12 participants.
  • Help 11 of our Academy graduates into employment.
  • Travelled the equivalent distance from Adelaide/Tarndanya to Tokyo to deliver our Tjindu STRONG program to kids in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands and Far West Coast communities.
  • Welcome renewed corporate commitments from RAA, National Indigenous Australians Agency, the South Australian Government, Northpoint, BHP, ComwireIT, Beyond Bank Australia and the Australian Electoral Commission; and new partnerships with Vili’s Family Bakery and the Adelaide Fringe.
  • Bring back the Nunga U17 Next Generation Football Carnival.
  • Deliver Cultural Awareness Workshops to over 30 organisations and thousands of employees.
  • Through our partnership with Vili’s, receive over $30,000 in contributions from this year’s Reconciliation and NAIDOC Week doughnut fundraiser.

We also saw some achievements for our current – and former – Academy participants.

Congratulations to Anthony Munkara who was taken as a pre-listed rookie by the Essendon Football Club for the 2023 season.

Anthony – a Tiwi Man – played his footy with the Tiwi Bombers and Darwin Buffaloes before joining West Adelaide for the SANFL season and participating as a member of the Tjindu Aboriginal AFL Academy.

We also congratulate Wirangu man Tyson Stengle and Larrakia and Warramungu man Brandan Parfitt on winning the 2022 AFL Premiership with Geelong – they were members of the 2016 and 2015 Aboriginal AFL Academy. Tyson was also named in this year’s All-Australian team.

Anthony Munkara
Congratulations to our Tjindu Aboriginal AFL Academy player Anthony Munkara

An exciting future for our Academy students after a big year

We are incredibly proud of our Academy participants who had a big year on and off the playing field with games against Immanuel College, Henley High School and Blackwood High, as well as lots of hard work in the classroom completing Aboriginal Studies units towards their South Australian Certificate of Education.

Congratulations to everyone who participated this year on your achievements. There is a lot of hard work that goes into completing Year 10, 11 and 12, and we hope those who have now finished their final year at school have enjoyed their time in the program and wish you all the best in your futures.

I’d like to especially acknowledge and thank our Academy coach Gavin Wanganeen for guiding our players throughout the season and offering his wealth of knowledge and experience.  

To those Academy players who are returning in 2023, and to our new recruits, we look forward to welcoming you to our pre-season camp in February. It’s going to be a very exciting year!

Building bigger and better towards 2023

Our work in the community has been incredibly positive this year. As well as reaching over 230 students through the Tjindu STRONG program in remote areas, we expanded our list of organisations who want to ensure their staff are getting industry-leading cultural awareness training.

This is also taking part at an important time in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs on the national stage, with the federal government looking towards a referendum on introducing a First Nations’ Voice into the constitution.

Through our Cultural Awareness Workshops and work consulting for Reconciliation Action Plans, we are proud to provide engagement, participatory opportunities for people to learn about the histories of our peoples before and after colonisation, and the importance of our languages, cultures and maintain these in modern society.

We were also incredibly excited to bring back the Nunga Next Generation Football Carnival, which was won by the Koonibba Mission boys’ team and the Port Augusta girls’ team. This was a great weekend celebrating the talent of our young people among friends and family. We’re very much looking forward to it next year.

Two Aboriginal football teams in action
Action from the Nunga U17 Next Generation Carnival at Thebarton Oval/Kaurna Country (Oodnadatta v APY Lands game) Credit: Jordan Bianchini

Thank you

I’ll close by extending thanks to those who’ve made the 2022 a successful year for the Tjindu Foundation.

To our staff: Wade Thompson, Rigby Barnes, Tyran Hill, Damien Coulthard, Margie Tilbrook, Gavin Wangeneen, Courtney Bouzoukis and Serena Waters, a big thanks to your incredible work this year. These are the people who make the magic of the Tjindu Foundation happen, and their efforts have been warmly – and widely – acknowledged by our partners and stakeholders this year. Thanks also to our board, led by April Lawrie and her team of directors, for their steady guidance of our work throughout 2022.

To our donors, thanks for your contributions to the Tjindu Foundation this year. Your contributions help provide the resources we need to reach kids in the most remote parts of our state.

To our partners: RAA, National Indigenous Australians Agency, the South Australian Government, Northpoint, BHP, Vili’s, ComwireIT, Beyond Bank Australia, Adelaide Fringe and the Australian Electoral Commission, thanks for your ongoing support and active participation of our work and programs this year.

And lastly, to our students and families: what a year it’s been! We are so, so proud of what you’ve accomplished in 2022 and we cannot wait to see what deadly things you’ll achieve in the future.

On behalf of the whole Tjindu Foundation team, I wish you a very safe and happy Christmas and New Year. We’ll see you in 2023!

Kellie Graves

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