Consistent with the principles of Aboriginal self-determination, the Tjindu Foundation is structured as an Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisation (ACCO), whereby our staff and Board have strong Aboriginal representation.
The Tjindu Foundation is governed and supported by its board which provides expertise, acting as the Project Management Group, representative of key stakeholders across industry, government and education.
Our staff panel is composed of professionals experienced in working with Aboriginal people, communities and in the development and implementation of industry-leading community engagement and cultural education programs.
Kellie Graves is a proud Ngarrindjeri and Narungga woman from Adelaide who leads the day-to-day operations of the Tjindu Foundation having built a strong career working in Aboriginal programs, including previous project management roles in government health and human services , and previously overseeing the implementation of Aboriginal youth programs as a Community Program Manager with Power Community Ltd (at the Port Adelaide Football Club). Kellie is passionate about the role cultural education and engagement plays empowering young Aboriginal people.
SENIOR PROJECT OFFICER
Arabana man Wade Thompson is a former AFL and SANFL League footballer Wade Thompson is a program officer for the Tjindu Foundation. Thompson helped make history when, in his 2009 debut game, he was one of six Aboriginal players in the Power team that played against Melbourne – setting a new record for First Nations participation in an on-field AFL team. Since then, Wade has continued to play footy at state and local level, and has built his career working with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people delivering community engagement programs.
Rigby Barnes a proud Guugu Yimithirr and Birri Gubba man with family connections to Arrernte people of Central Australia.
Prior to starting with Tjindu Foundation 12 months ago, Rigby spent 13 years working in Aboriginal Affairs within South Australian Government.
Outside of work, Rigby is in his final year of his Masters of Business (MBA) degree at Adelaide University.
Our Board of Directors
CO-FOUNDER & CHAIR
April Lawrie is a proud Mirning and Kokatha woman from SA’s far west coast who has become one of the state’s leading voices and advocates in Aboriginal affairs. Currently serving as SA’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, April has a 30-year professional background as a key figure in Aborginal health, education, child and family welfare, foster care, and youth justice. Her previous roles include as Aboriginal Justice Director in the SA Attorney General’s Department, branch director for Aboriginal Health at SA Health, and as SA’s Director of Aboriginal Education.
CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR
Paul Vandenbergh is part of the Wirangu people of the Far West Coast of South Australia and is driven by his upbringing in this community to create opportunities for Aboriginal youth in SA. A former professional basketballer in the NBL with the Canberra Cannons, he studied Aboriginal Affairs and has worked in several high-level government and private sector roles in Aboriginal housing, health, education and community development before leading Aboriginal programs at Power Community Ltd (Port Adelaide Football Club). In 2021 he joined the staff at the AFL as Diversity Pathways Manager.
Dale Agius is a Kaurna, Narungga, Ngadjuri and Ngarrindjeri man. With a strong connection to his Aboriginal heritage and the stories across these four language groups, he pursued a career to help South Australia’s Aboriginal community and has worked for 18 years in Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, correctional Services, in the Office for the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, as a Ministerial Advisor and currently as the Senior Manager of Aboriginal Practice and Programs for the Department of Human Services. He is also the president of the Kilburn Football and Cricket Club and Chair of the SA Aboriginal Football and Netball Carnival.
Tamia Blackwell is a Narungga woman from the Yorke Peninsula. Currently working as an Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer and studying a Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts (English Literature and Aboriginal Studies), Tamia was inspired to pursue a career in education after delivering workshops on balancing STEM and Traditional Culture by formulating algebraic equations from the movements, patterns and groups of traditional dance pieces. As a result of this work, she has travelled to communities across Australia to help educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
After graduating from the University of Southern Queensland with a Bachelor of Commerce, Katy has built a strong professional career in local and state government departments and agencies providing financial management, accounting, budgetary and corporate services. She is currently the Finance and Business Services Manager at SA Native Title Services and works to provide finance and business support including process improvements across the organisation.
Nicole Hillier is a high-school graduate who is undertaking a Bachelors degree in social work and active sporting participant for her local Netball team.
Kevin has been the Principal of Immanuel College for 18 years and is a highly versatile educator with leadership and management experience across governance, education, technology and commercial in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and is a regarded leader and advocate for Aboriginal education in South Australia and nationally. He currently sits on the ABC’s Education Advisory Council, Australian Council on Children and the Media Executive Committee, and Chairs the National Surf Lifesaving education committee. He is a directory of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders and VIP Tone Australia.