Linking Leaders Newsletter - Issue 1

Welcome to the first edition of Linking Leaders newsletter

Photo of Kerrie Tim

Hi folks

Welcome to our first Linking Leaders newsletter. Congratulations to you on your fine efforts in leadership and thank you for committing to a life-long leadership and learning journey. This newsletter is just one way we want to link with you and have you link with each other. We hope this newsletter is a reminder that you matter and that your efforts towards building good lives for yourself, and others, matters.

Leadership is at the heart of every action. Closing the Gap is a commitment by Australian governments to act to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, and especially to provide a better future for Indigenous children. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to achieving a set of ambitious targets to support their efforts. COAG also identified a number of building blocks where action is required and one of these is governance and leadership.

Our work under the Indigenous Leadership Program aims to build a grass-roots movement of Indigenous people committed to building good lives for themselves, and others, and to marry this bottom-up approach with the action of Australian governments under Closing the Gap. Working together means we will have a greater chance of success. Building on ideas, abilities and leadership is more likely to lead to sustainable solutions to some of the most entrenched challenges many Indigenous Australians and their families and communities face.

Through this newsletter we look forward to sharing and showcasing your leadership efforts and to encourage you to continue the journey.

Kerrie Tim
Group Manager
Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

"Few people are born leaders. Leaders require nurturing, coaching and supporting. Leaders need exposure to experiences which build skills, role models to inspire and to drive change".

Professor Mick Dodson, AM, BJuris LLB


FaHCSIA Indigenous Leadership Program

The Indigenous Leadership Program started in 2004-05 as the Indigenous Women’s Program, focusing on strengthening Indigenous women’s leadership and networking skills. With the success of the program it was expanded to also include separate leadership programs for Indigenous men and youth.

FaCHSIA currently holds several National Leadership Programs for Indigenous women and men, with over 2000 people having completed a program and another 3000 directly involved in leadership development through the regional and targeted programs or advanced leadership opportunities.

If you are a past participant and wish to continue your journey by being kept up to date with changes in Indigenous Affairs please contact us to make sure we have your correct contact details. We can also advise you of Advanced Leadership Opportunities that arise throughout the year. Don’t miss out!

Continuing to Improve

We ask participants to take a few moments to complete an Evaluation Form at each stage of the Program. We also want to see how attending one of our Leadership programs has affected your leadership journey over time. To do this, we will start making some telephone calls over the next few months to a number of past participants to see where your journey has led you. You may receive a call from one of the team over the next few months.

Registrations for the 2010-11 Leadership Programs will open in May 2010.

For more information on FaHCSIA's Indigenous Leadership Programs go to Leadership & Representation  or call 1800 249 873 node/4007

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Leadership Profile

So far in 09-10 we have had over 700 men and women attend Indigenous Leadership Programs run by FaHCSIA. Since its inception in 2004, thousands of Indigenous Australians have experienced positive changes in their lives thanks to our programs.

Meet Gwen Griffen from Gunnedah, NSW

Gwen Griffen - 04/05 National Indigenous Women's Program


Councillor Gwen Griffen successfully completed the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program in 2004/05. Gwen also went on to successfully undertake an advanced leadership opportunity in 2007.

Gwen was first elected to Gunnedah Shire Council in 1995 and in 2008 she was re-elected to the Council and is now serving her fifth term.

Gwen has also served on many Council committees over the years, including crime prevention, environment and development, and Australia Day to name a few. These give her opportunities to use her leadership skills, experience and knowledge. She has also served as President of the Region and Local Government Education Consultative Group.

Always demonstrating passion about community issues, Gwen leads her community by being honest when confronted and by speaking her mind for the people of her community who she was elected to represent.

Gwen’s exceptional leadership achievements and long service to her community were acknowledged when she was nominated for the Local Hero Achievement Award by the New South Wales Government in 2006.

Gwen’s passion and achievements are a credit to her community and an inspiration for others interested in becoming leaders in their lives.

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Leadership Activities

Leadership activities showcase people working with local and regional communities to share skills and build a stronger leadership base.

Leader: Jimmy Ellis, 07/08 Indigenous Youth Leadership Program
Activity name: Football Fun Day

Left to Right: Photo of Jimmy Ellis, Preston Campbell and Larry Brandy

Jimmy organised and co-ordinated the Football Fun Day in Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Jimmy’s activity was based on the identified need to address healthier lifestyles and build fitness levels amongst primary-school aged children. The activity aimed to provide participants with information sessions on healthy lifestyles for youth and to encourage possible local future leaders. This included education on the importance of a good balanced diet, regular exercise and the promotion of strong leadership and youth empowerment.

The objectives of Jimmy’s activity were to assist younger people with becoming strong leaders and role models within their community. This was done by promoting team environments and skills for working together. The day was well supported and there was a very positive turnout at the event.

One of the challenges that Jimmy faced was to deliver a speech. Jimmy overcame this challenge by practising his speech in front of his family, who provided positive feedback about delivery and timing. This made it easier for listeners to process the information he provided.

Leader: Norma Jean Turner, 08/09 Indigenous Women's Leadership Program
Activity name: Aunty Jean's Good Health Team Koori Mini Olympics

Photo of Norma Jean Turner

Norma Jean is a member of Aunty Jean’s Good Health Team, a NSW Health initiative. Aunty Jean’s Good Health Team consults with mainstream health service providers and the Aboriginal community to address concerns about Aboriginal people living with chronic conditions in NSW.

Norma Jean’s Koori Mini Olympics Day attracted 150 Aboriginal elders to compete in events such as discus and ten pin bowling. The Koori Mini Olympics promoted healthy lifestyles for Aboriginal people and was seen as a great incentive for the participants, all with chronic illnesses, to exercise and maintain their productive lifestyles.

The Koori Mini Olympics attracted competitors from the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, La Perouse and far South Coast regions, including local school children who staged an opening ceremony. The Koori Mini Olympics started four years ago and has become an annual event.

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Advanced Leadership Opportunities (ALOs)

What are Advanced Leadership Opportunities?

ALO initiative aims to extend the capacity for Indigenous community individuals showing leadership potential and past participants of the FaHCSIA Indigenous Leadership programs. Participants are encouraged to expand their skills and experience through accredited leadership certificate course, and recognised leadership events, which will better equip them to engage people as leaders within their communities.

Our youth leading the way: Deanna Kennedy from Beswick, NT

Deanna Kennedy aboard the Young Endeavour

Born in Katherine, Deanna Kennedy was a young girl with big dreams. She wanted to travel to new places, and do something to benefit her community.

At 24 years of age Deanna has successfully completed the FaHCSIA Indigenous Leadership Program (ILP). She is a strong leader within her local community of Beswick and has managed to combine her love of adventure with her passion for helping her community.

Deanna believes community is a place where different groups come together as one and she sees her community as one of the main motivations behind her success.

“I chose to do the Young Endeavour program so I could learn new things about the sea, and about me,” says Deanna. Aboard the ship, Deanna learnt about navigation, rope knotting and working in a team. She says she moved out of her comfort zone, making great new friends in the process.

Deanna’s plans for the future include finishing her studies and continuing with community work. She will also keep a lookout for opportunities in Perth, as that’s one place she’d really like to see. Since completing the ILP, Deanna has gone on to complete the Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership and has become a strong advocate for youth.

She’s learnt that if you persevere and keep a positive mind, then you will have the chance to show your community the value you bring, and make a difference.

Deanna’s efforts have been recognised by her local community. She was recently awarded the Beswick Young Citizen of the Year, by the Australia Day Council NT 2010 Local Government Awards and was selected to attend the 2010 Oxfam Straight Talk forum in Canberra recently.

"Jumping off the ship in the open sea was scary," says Deanna, "but it was also fun."
And it's the best way to make a splash!

Aunty Verna Nichols  tells us about her experience at the 5th International Adventure Therapy Conference, Edinburgh, UK

Aunty Verna Nichols (centre) and attendees of the 5th International Adventure Therapy Conference.

My name tag said Aunty Verna Nichols, Tasmanian Aboriginal Elder. Many delegates were interested in Aboriginal people.

I spoke about the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and our history. I told of how we are a proud, strong race of people. I told them that an Aboriginal person is one with their country. By this I mean that we have a connection to the earth; the earth is our mother, our heart, which in turn ties us together.

I spoke about young people out in the bush for the first time – for some walking their ancestral grounds (not knowing) for the first time. Many of our youth bravely speak about their life in front of others for the first time. The program run by the Aboriginal Outdoor Recreation Program is so very important for participants’ self esteem, confidence, well being, trust, faith, and respect for themselves and each other.

I would like to express that while I was nervous about being a co-presenter I realised that this was a good opportunity to put forward the story about the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. I can look back at this week in Edinburgh and feel that I achieved what I set out to do. I believe that speaking at this conference to an international audience and playing a major role was another step, taken by me, for more confidence in public speaking.

I was able to talk on a one to one basis with many people about the Tasmanian Aboriginal People and the program, and I found that my confidence had grown by the end of the week. While I have no problem speaking to Aboriginal people or with people well known to me, I found that I was eager to get to the conference the next day.

I was impressed (I will say) that I was able to get from Tasmania to Scotland with a minimum of fuss, showing me once again that I can do things that I thought impossible. I have definitely grown by this experience. I have gained knowledge, and learned by listening and participating in conversations that I do have something to say. More importantly, I have learned that people are interested in what I have to say.

David Kampers tells us about attending the National Men's Health Gathering 2009 at the University of Newcastle

David Kampers - 08/09 Indigenous Men's Leadership Program

My attendance at the conference was to support my ambition to learn more about Indigenous men’s health and to further develop aspects of my leadership journey through this advanced leadership opportunity.

There were a few keys things I learnt about myself from this experience. My own presentation received positive responses from many in the audience, which will encourage me to further investigate a collaborative relationship with FaHCSIA to research aspects of leadership in Indigenous men’s health. This conference gave me the confidence to speak assertively in public forums and to listen and absorb questions and opinions from others.

This is a set of skills that I can take back to the Illawarra Indigenous community that I am a part of. The conference gave me the chance to network and gain invaluable information from other Indigenous men from communities across the country. Sharing in this knowledge transfer helped me identify that much more needs to be done to improve Indigenous men’s health in this country.

I also attended a number of discussion groups that were an invaluable source of knowledge to me which will enhance my own learning trajectory. These discussions included topics such as the Aboriginal Men’s Road Show, Aboriginal Males and the NT Intervention, and Considering the NT Context in the Development of the National Men’s Health Policy: What Really Matters?

The whole experience was a rewarding and beneficial exercise for me and I am grateful to FaHCSIA for allowing me attend and be a part of the conference proceedings.

"I know how important it is to take care of myself and my family first, because in that way I can be much more powerful in fighting for my community and what it needs".

Avis Dunnett, 2004/05 Indigenous Women's Leadership Program

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The Indigenous Leadership & Engagement Group Update

Providing an update on the work we do across the country.

The Indigenous Leadership & Engagement Group within FaHCSIA works across many areas not only strengthening Indigenous leadership. We have responsibility for some major initiatives nationwide.

'Strong Spirit, Strong Culture, Strong People' - Vision statement of the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation

Board members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation (from L-R), Graham Gee, Debra Hocking, Florence Onus, Judy Atkinson and Noelene Lopes.

The Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Inaugural Board was announced on 14 December 2009. The Board was established as a recommendation from the ‘Voices from Around the Campfire Report’ an outcome of the national Community Consultations conducted from May to August 2009.

Current members of the Board are Florence Onus (Chair), Debra Hocking (Dep Chair), Judy Atkinson (Sec), Noelene Porter (Treasurer) and Graham Gee (Public Officer). There are four vacancies on the Board and these have just been advertised in national papers, Indigenous media and all networks. Foundation staff positions, from the CEO through to the Receptionist/Admin Assistant, 8 positions in total, will also be advertised soon. The Foundation operates from Canberra.

Both Florence and Debra are ‘survivors’ of the Stolen Generations, and current Board members work in the delivery of healing services to our people on the ground. Florence Onus (Chair) states: “Members of the Board are also educators and advocates to promote the message of ‘Healing’ for our people, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of our communities.

“We hope that the remaining vacancies on the Board and staff will be filled by people who have the same passion and commitment that I and other members have. This is reflected in the Foundations purpose, which is to promote, educate and provide healing programs for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people who have suffered the impacts of colonisation, forced removal and current policy.

Our vision is to see our people healed from these impacts to enable them to be restored as individuals and as Australia's first nations people of the land. We are committed to achieve our vision statement and that is 'Strong Spirit, Strong Culture, Strong People'."

Meet Strategic Initiatives team members!

Photo of Ellen Wood, Klaudia Greenaway and Louise Hughes

The Strategic Initiatives team (Ellen, Klaudia and Louise) is part of the Policy and Strategy Branch of the Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group. This section is responsible for developing and implementing short term, high priority and time critical initiatives required by the Group.

The section is currently working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation to develop policy with a renewed focus on the particular needs of the Stolen Generations.

New national representative body

The new national representative body, called the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples is being set up during 2010 and will be fully operational by January 2011. The Congress will be a non-government body that will manage its own affairs.

The model for the body was developed by an independent steering committee chaired by Tom Calma, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner 2004-2009, following a twelve month consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from right across Australia.

The Australian Government has agreed to provide $29.2 million over the next four years to get the Congress established and support its operation.

The Congress will advocate for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights and work towards securing the economic, social, cultural and environmental future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Tom Calma and the Steering Committee have emphasised that the Congress will provide leadership that demonstrates the highest ethical and professional standards. In setting up the Congress the first step has therefore been the appointment of an Ethics Council to develop and maintain the Congress’s ethical standards.

The members of the Ethics Council are Mr Tom Calma, Professor Larissa Behrendt, Mr Wesley Enoch, Ms Mary Graham, Ms Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun and Professor Lester Irabinna Rigney.

The next step in establishing the Congress will be the appointment of an Interim National Executive. The members of the Interim National Executive will then set up the organisation and start planning so that the first annual meeting of the Congress can be held later this year. A permanent National Executive will be elected at the inaugural meeting of the Congress.

In the mean time, the Steering Committee will continue working to recruit staff and develop the Congress’s constitution, rules and procedures.

Keep an eye out later this year for information on how you can get involved in the National Congress.

Capacity building workshops for Stolen Generations' organisations

These workshops are for organisations whose primary purpose is to work with, or advocate on behalf of, the Stolen Generations. Places are also available for Stolen Generations’ individuals who are thinking of starting a group or for Stolen Generations’ groups that may not be a formal organisation.

During these workshops participants will gain knowledge and understanding about:

  1. Accessing funding from a range of sources including government, corporate and philanthropic.
  2. Writing a competitive funding application.
  3. Working within funding cycles and environments.
  4. Identifying and building relationships with stakeholders.
  5. Demonstrating good leadership and governance in relation to securing funding.

Currently workshops are scheduled for

  • Darwin, 14 April 2010
  • Melbourne, 11 May 2010
  • Brisbane, 28 May 2010
  • Perth, 9 June 2010
  • Broome, 11 June 2010
  • Redfern, 16 June 2010

There are places still available for the Stolen Generations’ Capacity Building Workshops on “How to access funding”. The Department will arrange travel and accommodation (where necessary) for successful applicants who reside outside of the cities where workshops are scheduled. Travel will be to the workshop nearest their home location.

More Information

If you are interested in attending one of these workshops or you know someone who is, more information is available by emailing

Commemorating the second anniversary of the motion of Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples, 13 February 2010

To celebrate the second anniversary of the Apology, FaHCSIA offered funding (up to $500) to Stolen Generations’ organisations. Activities funded included community get-togethers, memorial services, talking circles, information stalls and art workshops.

"Step up, be strong, watch and learn, never underestimate your abilities, take every opportunity to be heard, respect your people and use your common sense"

Andrew Tibbits, Young Indigenous Leader

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Get involved

We are offering two fantastic Advanced Leadership Opportunities, now open for past participants to expand their leadership experience even further:

We are sponsoring four past participants to attend the 6th Gathering – Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Conference on the island of Hawaii in September.

We are also sponsoring up to 20 previous participants to attend the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference to be held at the end of August in Darwin.

Please don’t miss out on your opportunity to attend these exciting events as applications must close at the end of the month.

If you would like to apply for these ALO events please contact us on 1800 249 873.

Continuing our tradition of supporting indigenous leadership skills we are also sending two young participants to New York this month to attend the Ninth Session of the UN Permanent Forum.

We also wish our two young Indigenous leaders selected to attend the Ninth Session of the UN Permanent Forum in New York well and look foward to their return and hearing their stories.

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Remember to keep in touch

Keeping in touch with other participants is a great way to network, share experiences and learn what each other is doing. Have you been in contact lately?

We are listening to YOU

We appreciate your feedback on our leadership development workshops, and use the information you provide to improve what we do.

Level 5, 16 Bowes Street, Woden ACT 2617
PO Box 7576 Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610
Leadership FREECALL: 1800 249 873

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