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Term 1 Done ✅

We’ve had a very busy and productive start to the year in our four partner communities and I’m proud of what we’ve already achieved and the direction we’re moving in.

It was a big start to the year for our Queensland-based community teams who ran school holiday programs for young people in Palm Island and Woorabinda. These programs, which will run again over the Easter school holidays, provided fun and structured activities for young people of all ages.

Then, from the first day of the school term, our staff began implementing our reimagined in-school programs, which will see our programs better cater to needs and aspirations of our partner schools, and the young people and their families that we work with. You can read more about this below.

For me, a highlight of the term was following the journey of the three Woorabinda young people who travelled to Sydney to see Taylor Swift. Unfortunately, there are often barriers that make experiences like this seem out of reach for the young people we work with. So it was an absolute joy to be able to make it happen.

I have also travelled a bit this term. A trip to Sydney to catch up with our wonderful partners and a visit to Canberra to meet with a number of key elected officials and their staff, and update NIAA on our work, provided opportunities to advocate for our work. And a journey to Tiwi to connect with local services, and meet new staff, has helped inform the direction of our work there. 

As always, thank you for your support on our journey.

Shellee Strickland

CEO, Community Spirit Foundation


New program direction

Community Spirit Foundation has continued its foundation-wide review in Term 1 of 2024. This review will guide the reimagining of our programs to ensure that they make meaningful and tangible impact towards improving the lives of the people in our four partner communities, through strong governance, program development and delivery, and strengthening of culturally rich service delivery. 

Going forward, our focus will be to take a more holistic approach to supporting young people and their families by:

  • offering practical solutions to barriers, 

  • incorporating greater support at key transition points, and 

  • deepening our engagement with families to ensure they are actively participating in their young ones’ learning journey. 


While our model will always be education-based, and we will continue to have a partnership with the local schools, we are broadening our services. And everything we do will have a cultural overlay to ensure our work does not simply include culture, but that culture is the guiding light of all our programs and principles.

Since transitioning away from delivering workbooks, our staff are providing more practical and hands-on support to classroom teachers and the school community. According to Palm Island Senior Program Coordinator Keri Morton, the young people, and teachers, are appreciating the extra support.

“I have seen better results in the classroom, the kids are more engaged with the work activities that are more relevant to them and what they are learning. With extra help in the classrooms the kids are focused on their work and enjoy us being in there with them.”

Woorabinda Senior Program Coordinator said primary-school-aged students are appreciating more of the one-on-one time, which is being used to yarn and check in on the child's well-being.


CSF at ChangeFest

CSF Senior Program Coordinator Khanita Sukaserm and Horizons Program Coordinator Seth Clay attended this year’s ChangeFest on Latji Latji Country in Mildura recently. 

ChangeFest, which drew more than 400 people from across Australia, is a movement for place-based change, which facilitates and strengthens our understanding of community-led approaches. 

 Seth said the people who attended the event came from various disciplines, and all brought a sense of hope for the future of First Nations Peoples.

 “Everyone there was keen to find solutions and learn from each other,” he said. 

 “It was great to connect with other organisations from remote communities to hear about shared challenges, and what’s working, and what needs to be improved.”

 And the takeaway message from ChangeFest: there’s never just one answer.

“We heard from the speakers, and in the workshops and breakout sessions, that if you hit a wall, never stop; just redirect and work hard to pivot. 

“It’s a long game, but it was great to see so many people pulling in the same direction.”


Students get a glimpse of day in the life of CSF

CSF’s Galiwin’ku team hosted several students for work experience this term.

The year 9, 10 and 11 students spent the day with staff hearing about the foundation and seeing the technical elements of how we collect data across the programs and input it into spreadsheets.  

CSF Senior Program Coordinator Naomi Roe said the students also heard about how they could be involved in CSF programs, including being nominated for Horizons camps, and about different pathways to employment. 

“We explained that we are all from different backgrounds, but have come together to work as a team,” she said.

“It was great to be able to mentor the students. They might even come and work for us one day.”


Sweeter than fiction: Woorabinda fans head to Taylor Swift

Three young people made the trip of a lifetime from Woorabinda to Sydney to see Taylor Swift, with thanks to Venues NSW and with support from Community Spirit Foundation. They stepped out in style with outfits provided by Princess Polly.  

CSF Senior Program Coordinator Khanita Sukaserm said the trip to Sydney for the concert was beyond their wildest dreams and that Accor Stadium, filled with 80,000 Swifties, was like a wonderland. 

“It really means a lot, because I’ve seen the girls face a lot of obstacles in their life and the Woorabinda community has been through a lot in the past few months. But this gave them something to look forward to and a chance for them to have a bit of fun.” 

Nineteen-year-old Dakota Saltner said coming from a community with a population of one thousand people, the concert was like nothing she’d ever experienced before. “Getting ready, I was excited but nervous; I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said.  

“I’ve never seen that many people in one place before. 

“But I loved all the fireworks, the costume changes and special effects. It was a once in a life-time experience.”  

Community Spirit Foundation CEO Shellee Strickland said a focus of the foundation’s work was to provide First Nations young people in four partner communities with opportunities that give them insight into what lies beyond community. 

“We want them to see that they deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers, and that we’re here to help remove some of the barriers.


Holiday fun in Queensland

CSF staff hit the ground running this year, running holiday programs in Woorabinda and Palm Island in the summer holidays. 

Forty primary-school aged young people sheltered from the unrelenting rain in Palm Island and played games, coloured, skipped, made bubbles and played basketball at a Community Spirit Foundation Holiday Fun Day at the PCYC.

In Woorabinda, young people were invited to take part in cooking and baking sessions, nail art, craft, board games and basketball.

Providing structured activities for young people to be involved in during the school holidays is a priority for the foundation going forward. The programs provide opportunities for fun, creativity and physical activity, as well as for developing confidence and new skills, in a safe and supported setting.



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