By Ellen Morgan
Published: Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Updated: July 9, 2021 at 12:30 pm
RAA’s Grassroots Giving program is a bi-annual opportunity for individuals and community groups to apply for a grant of up to $5000.
This year’s first round has just been announced, with 32 community groups awarded more than $50,000 in funding between them.
“We were thrilled to see so many people apply for the grants this year, representing such a broad range of incredible community organisations doing wonderful work,” says Community and Corporate Affairs General Manager Emily Perry.
Applications for the most recent round exceeded 70, and while RAA would have loved to help all applicants, 32 were chosen as recipients.
“There are so many committed people working behind the scenes doing great work in South Australia, so it’s always a difficult decision,” Ms Perry continues.
“The recipients of these grants are delivering important community programs and initiatives that improve people’s lives and they’re shining a spotlight on important issues such as mental health, cultural diversity, social inclusion and youth disadvantage.”
One recipient is Tjindu Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation founded in June last year by April Lawrie and Paul Vandenbergh. With a focus on providing education and support for Aboriginal children and young people, Tjindu hopes to improve lives and future opportunities of youth in South Australian Aboriginal communities.
General Manager Kellie Graves explains that due to limited education and lack of support, employment opportunities remain vastly different for Aboriginal young people.
All proud Aboriginal Australians, Kellie (Ngarrindjeri & Narungga), April (Mirning and Kokatha) and Paul (Wirangu & Kokatha) have long supported Aboriginal cultural awareness and education. Most recently, Kellie and Paul worked at Port Adelaide Football Club, while April is the inaugural Commissioner for Children and Young People in South Australia.
After a time of change in early 2020 due to COVID-19, Paul and April came together to continue their work supporting the education of Aboriginal children and young people.
“We use sport as a vehicle to drive educational success through our Tjindu Aboriginal AFL Academy, and we work in prevention, education and strength-based practice in our Tjindu Strong program,” Kellie says.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to cater to different learning styles and needs. We believe it’s about breaking down barriers and enabling participation for children and young people.”
Tjindu’s 2 youth programs; Aboriginal AFL Academy and Tjindu STRONG, educate approximately 400 students each year, with the aim to expand the remote program into a state-wide initiative. While the Aboriginal AFL Academy allows students to achieve Certificate II or III in Sports Coaching or Aboriginal Studies, it also incorporates youth support, culture, high performance training and career coaching. The Aboriginal AFL Academy works intensively with 45 students but hopes to have 60 in 2022 with an even male-female split.
Similarly, Tjindu STRONG engages with Aboriginal students in remote communities in the APY Lands and far West Coast of South Australia, supporting them through their education journey. The focus of this program is increasing school attendance through strengths-based initiatives, with the aim to assist students completing middle school and transitioning to high school.
“We believe if our students complete their secondary education and go on to tertiary education or gain long-term meaningful employment, that is going to ‘reduce the gap’ and they’ll experience the same quality of life as many other [non-Aboriginal] students do,” Kellie says.
As part of the Grassroots Giving program, Kellie and her team were given funds to continue their own programs, and also deliver cultural awareness sessions to other organisations – another element of their vision and purpose.
“From my perspective, we’re a local South Australian charity and RAA is a South Australian organisation. When I was reading about Grassroots Giving, and the values of that program, they seemed so strongly aligned,” Kellie says.
“I felt it was a great opportunity to have 2 great SA brands work together in the same space.
“The grant allows us to continue the meaningful work we get to do.”
Kellie and her team will use part of the funding to deliver comprehensive cultural awareness training to the Adelaide Roller Derby Association.
This is just some of the important work Kellie and her team deliver to SA organisations, further educating and providing awareness – an essential step in the state’s ongoing reconciliation journey.
“We’re grateful to see more and more grants available for small start-ups and Aboriginal people… it’s great to have more of a light shone on cultural diversity.”
“Without grants like this, an organisation like ours couldn’t exist,” Kellie says.
“Acknowledging our First Nations people is important to our history, and teaching it at a young age is really important… the more it happens, the less of a gap there will be.
“We are striving for the next generation of leaders. This generation is going to change the world, so we want our Aboriginal kids to be at the forefront of that. They will be instrumental in this time of change, and I’m lucky to be able to shape that in some small way.”
Another recipient for this round of Grassroots Giving grants is the Sammy D Foundation, which works with South Australian youth. The funding will go towards the development of the charity’s Party Wise program, which provides alcohol and drug education to high school students.
Other grants awarded will go towards supporting the work of SA Brother, which aims to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health, the Botanic Gardens of South Australia and State Herbarium, and Ingle Farm Amateur Soccer Club.