Partnering with purpose

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Clontarf Foundation Yarrabah Academy boys participate in the inaugural
White Ribbon Fun Run on the Cairns Esplanade. Image: Clontarf Academy.

A review of grants supporting Indigneous communities, health and education

Since 1969, The Ian Potter Foundation has awarded over 170 grants in support of Indigenous communities and/or organisations.

The Foundation’s grants data reveals that this funding has primarily gone to QLD, VIC, WA and NT based organisations, with approximately 40% of that funding supporting projects in remote areas. In the last decade, grants supporting Indigenous communities have been fewer by number, but larger dollar, multi-year grants; an early trend consistent with the more recent trend in the Foundation’s grantmaking. 

Indigenous grants by decade 1960s  to 2010s

Grants by decade (Value and Number) supporting Indigenous communities, health and education

Over the last two decades, the Foundation has funded projects addressing issues affecting Indigenous Australians that have focused on prevention and aim to tackle entrenched problems in a systemic way, from the ground up.

A primary example of this is The National Indigenous Eye Health Program. The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences has received two five-year grants totaling $2,000,000 (in 2008 and 2013) towards the development of regional population-based eye care services. These services have been devised in collaboration with the Aboriginal community-controlled sector, the eye-care sector, government, non-government organisations and mainstream health care providers; and are designed to ensure Indigenous Australians ‘Close the Gap’ in the important area of vision.

Similarly, the Foundation awarded $1,500,000 (2011) over four years to support the establishment of the Centre for Child Development and Education at the Menzies School of Health Research in
Darwin, NT. The Centre undertakes research needed for policy and practice to address the poor health, education and social circumstances of Indigenous children.

In October 2017, the Board prioritised large-scale projects designed to benefit Indigenous Australians as a core part of the Foundation’s major grant funding area.

Two such grants approved in December 2017 were significant capacity building grants awarded to the Clontarf Foundation ($2.5m over five years) and Seed Foundation ($1.75m over five years). These not-for-profit organisations are clear leaders in providing pathways to education and employment for young Indigenous Australians.

Here we explore these two major grants in some detail. Throughout this annual report you can also read about other grants awarded in the past year supporting excellent and innovative programs focused on improving the health, wellbeing and opportunities for Indigenous Australians.


Seed Foundation – Growing Our Own

$1.75m over five years

Seed Foundation was established in 2015 to provide a wraparound support function to Indigenous high school students enrolled in the First People’s Health Program (FPHP). Seed Foundation leads a collaborative effort to provide support and pathways to further study and employment for these students. This includes health training (40 weeks Certificate II and III level in health and community services) individual mentoring, career guidance, community engagement and access to further training and employment opportunities through cross-sector partnerships.

This major grant funds the expansion of Seed Foundation’s services to support the increasing number of Indigenous students wishing to train as health and social services professionals and
seeking employment opportunities in their local communities. 

The value of Seed Foundation’s program is three-fold. It promotes an understanding of the importance of health to Indigenous youth which is critical given the gap in health outcomes in Indigenous communities. Increasing the number of Indigenous health and social service workers increases employment opportunities for those individuals, many of whom wish to remain in their communities. This in turn ensures better access to appropriate health care for Indigenous people in those regional and remote communities.

Trainee Bria with patient in dental chair

Seed Foundation supported healthcare trainee Bria

Clontarf Foundation – Engaging teenage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in education and employment, Cairns

$2.5m over five years

This capacity building grant supports the expansion of the successful Clontarf Academy program to six schools in Cairns, Queensland. This builds on Clontarf’s existing programs in 92 partner schools across WA, NT, QLD, NSW and Victoria involving 5,500 students in full-time mentoring and support.

The Clontarf academy program is highly successful in working with Indigenous boys that could otherwise disengage from the education system. Clontarf’s intensive wrap-around support is delivered within the school context with football (AFL and NRL codes) as the initial means of engagement.

Young boys’ existing passion for sport is used to attract them back to school and keep them coming but this is not a sports program. Clontarf’s program is about developing the values, skills and abilities that will assist the boys to actively participate in school and then transition into meaningful employment or further training to achieve better life outcomes.

Clontarf’s ultimate goal is to ensure participants complete Year 12. However, Clontarf actively works with participants to find work experience and placements to transition to employment. Over 70%
of Clontarf students go on to employment or full-time study, a clear indicator of the program’s success.

This article was originally published in The Ian Potter Foundation Annual Grants Report 2017-18.


annual report,funding priorities,Indigenous community,Major grant

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