First Nations Foundation

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CEO: A reflection on 2021

CEO: A reflection on 2021

This year was all about doubling down on being agile and empathetic in our response to empower the most vulnerable communities in our country – I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong in thinking 2021 would be any smoother than 2020.

I am extremely proud of the team and the resilience they have shown supporting the Aboriginal community. Indigenous servicing is challenging at the best of times let alone during a global pandemic, however, despite more disruptions and last-minute pivots First Nations Foundation was able to achieve significant milestones and close out the year as one of the strongest yet.

We delivered innovative programs; grew our supporter base and partners; broke through $1m in annual revenue; and received a sizeable grant from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, through the Office for Women, to grow our women’s program.

Indeed, the Indigenous Women’s Financial Wellness program was a big hit – the five-part online masterclass series engaged over 250 Indigenous women, aiming to leave this special group of First Nations women more confident to manage their money, build their assets and reach their financial goals.

The On Country program also gained traction as we looked to empower Aboriginal communities with the infrastructure and support to deliver their own financial literacy training. Our biggest success here is with The Glen, an Aboriginal drug and alcohol rehab centre in NSW’s Central Coast, that incorporates our My Money Dream training into their 12-week program to help clients build money management skills and reduce financial stress.

Our brand refresh now better communicates our story and connection to community, and our digital identity transformation is a cornerstone investment for First Nations Foundation. Importantly, the refresh of our core training, My Money Dream, provides our community with culturally appropriate and more personalised educational experiences that can be undertaken in their own time, on their own land.

Like many other organisations, the tough spot COVID pushed us all into actually created more opportunities for our team to look at what we could be doing differently moving forward. With longer lockdowns and border closures, we had to postpone our Big Super Day Out events for the second year running. However, it meant the Aboriginal Community Development and Project Officers we had based in Queensland were able to provide more personalised programs to those communities, something that we will continue to develop in other parts of the nation as our team grows.

Last but not least, we launched a podcast – Beyond the Gap. This project is something I’ve wanted to kick off for a while and we were able to produce a 7-part series that investigated best practice Reconciliation Action Plans, Indigenous Australian relationships with Corporate Australia, and the best path forward to engage and empower our country’s First Nations people. The podcast exceeded my wildest expectations and includes guests such as Hon. Ken Wyatt AM (Minister for Indigenous Affairs), Karen Mundine (Reconciliation Australia CEO), and Dr Simon Longstaff AO (Executive Director of The Ethics Centre).

My focus for 2022 is simple – consolidation and impact. I want to consolidate the great work over the past two years to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to our community and partners, and I want to develop a robust impact measurement framework to ensure the Foundation’s work is shifting the dial forward and making a meaningful difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I hope you continue to follow us on this journey.