From the General Manager

Kellie Graves, Tjindu Foundation General Manager

It’s been a big few months for the Tjindu Foundation as we continue our journey to be South Australia’s lead agency for Aboriginal youth programs.

Our team has been out-and-about this month in the APY Lands and Maralinga communities delivering our Tjindu STRONG program. 

Tjindu STRONG is a program for junior and middle years students in remote communities. As the name suggests, it’s about building powerful young people, but it also spells out the program’s values: Strength, Trust, Respect, No Shame, Optimism and Gratitude.

Led by Rigby Barnes and Wade Thompson this program has been developed for Aboriginal students in remote communities and encourages them to tap into their mental, physical, emotional and cultural strength through making smart choices in life.

Rigby and Wade have just returned from another successful delivery of the program to remote schools, and we are currently working with the Far West Coast and APY Lands Empowered Communities panels to verify our eligibility to continue the Tjindu STRONG program in these areas.

Our cultural awareness workshops continue to be delivered across numerous organisations in South Australia, including Adelaide Fringe and the contingent of international teams visiting Adelaide for the upcoming T20 Cricket World Cup.

Academy Trials and Nunga Next Generation Carnival 

The Aboriginal AFL Academy will be concluding for another year shortly, and our students will have been thrilled to see two of their predecessors receive their AFL Premiership medals in the grand final between Geelong and Sydney. Brandan Parfitt (2015) and Tyson Stengle (2016) are previous Academy students, and both finished impressive seasons by playing in the big Cats win at the MCG. The Tjindu Foundation congratulates them both.

Trials for the 2023 Academy will take place on Sunday 23 October at Thebarton Oval. Male and female squads of 25 players each will be selected and for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, will enjoy the return to special opportunities including a pre-season camp on Kaurna Country in Adelaide, Wurundjeri Country in Naarm/Melbourne for Dreamtime at the ‘G during Reconciliation Week, Garma Festival on Yolngu Country and an overseas exchange in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

We are very excited about what’s in store. If you know of a talented Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person who will be in senior school next year, please encourage them to register.

Meanwhile, we’re excited to be bringing back the Nunga U17 Next Generation Football Carnival from 28-30 October. We’ve recently finalised registrations and are working with community teams for the big event – a great opportunity for senior club development officers to see the new crop of talented footy players.


We’ve forged some great partnerships initiatives this year, and we wish to extend our thanks to Vili’s Family Bakery and community organisations who took part in the Reconciliation and Naidoc Week doughnut campaign. Purchases of Aboriginal flag themed donuts from Vili’s contributed a donation to Tjindu, and we were very excited to receive a $31,125 contribution as a result of the initiative. Thanks to Jason Cullen from Vili’s for leading the way in support of Tjindu.

We’re also excited to be working with Adelaide Fringe, Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing and CITB to develop their Reconciliation Action Plans.

We are also fortunate to work aside Tim Larkin in our consultative work with the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

It has been a big year for the Tjindu Foundation, overcoming the early challenges of COVID-19 to have now fully resumed our programs for young Aboriginal people in metro, regional and remote classrooms. I’d like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of our staff: Damien Coulthard, Margie Tilbrook, Tyran Hill, Wade Thompson, Rigby Barnes, Courtney Bouzoukis and Serena Waters. Without these individuals who work with our program participants, schools and teachers, and partners, our achievements would not be possible.

And in that spirit, thanks, as ever, to all of our partners and donors for your continued support to the Tjindu Foundation – we can’t do it without you!

Kellie Graves

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