The Literacy Empowerment Project A Partnership between Aboriginal Australians

The Literacy Empowerment Project
A Partnership between Aboriginal Australians
and Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth
It is time to celebrate our achievements since 2000 and explain why Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth
is ending as an entity and moving on to new areas of work with the First Peoples of Australia.
Since 2000 our merry band of a few women and men has championed innovation and partnership,
working with Indigenous students, teachers and communities to tackle the greatest social
disadvantage in this country.
The Literacy Backpack Project, building and enriching libraries, improving pre-schooling, early
detection of infant learning disability, support for cultural education, community storytelling, the
Crocodile Island Cultural Atlas & Dictionary, iconic song books like From Little Things, Big Things
Grow, seeing the magnificent Walking with Spirits festival become internationally famous and helping
bring the East Coast Encounter exhibition to some of the leading museums and art galleries in
Australia, are contributions of lasting value to this nation.
What has been built stands strong.
This is a credit to the determination of more than twenty remote Indigenous communities that we have
developed lasting relationships with over many years, led by elders who are committed and
understand how to ensure that their children grow “strong and smart”, to use the words of one of our
greatest supporters, the Indigenous education champion, Dr Chris Sarra.
We believe that we have helped to project the voices of Indigenous people and to raise the
consciousness of the nation on what is required to ensure all of our children achieve opportunity,
education and good health.
For a time, the Australian government appeared to be wholeheartedly behind reform. In this report
we acknowledge those who supported the schools and students experiencing the greatest
We have directed over $7.4 million into remote community projects by supporting Aboriginal
organisations locally and avoiding costly overheads by remaining a voluntary program. Of this, $4.1
million came from public and corporate supporters and the remaining $3.3 million from federal
government support between 2005 and 2012. This effort has achieved far more (including
measurable results) than programs that have expended hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ironically, as the devastating Indigenous education cuts began around the end of 2012, the Literacy
Empowerment Project was being hailed on the federal government’s own website as an outstanding
success showing how to improve early learning in remote communities.
The many years of sharp budget cuts to Indigenous education programs and organisations have
convinced us that now we must work directly with our Aboriginal partners and not compete for the
meagre funding available from public and corporate donations.
Our decision is to work with our partners on mentoring of Indigenous high school students, promotion
of cultural programs and development of a program with elders to reduce the contagion of Indigenous
youth suicide.
We will always stand strong with the First Peoples in the Struggle for equality and justice.
Jeff McMullen AM
CEO (Honorary)
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth
Ian Thorpe OAM
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth
1. Project Overview
2. Early Learning for infants and pre-schoolers
 Sunrise Health Service LiTTLe Program
 La Grange School 3 year old Program
 Yarrabah Books for Babies
 Lockhart River Early Learning
3. Literacy Backpack Program
4. Evaluation & Key Findings
5. Community Storytelling, Culture & History
 Liz Thompson digital stories
 Alison Lester storybooks
 Leonie Norrington stories
 Iconic Song Series
 Hart’s Range Story
 East Coast Encounter Book
 Crocodile Island Atlas & Dictionary
6. Children’s Art, Music & Cultural Education
 Walking with Spirits Festival
7. Community Cultural Enterprise
 Ghunmarn Culture Centre
 Djakanimba Pavilions
8. Partnerships & Contributions
 Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
 Flippa Ball in the Pilbarra
 Outback Meets the Beach
9. Acknowledgements
Project Overview
In 2002 Jeff McMullen coined the expression, “Literacy for Life”, outlining to an Australian publishing
conference the critical link between improving education and Indigenous health.
Analysing progress made by many First Nations in the USA, McMullen presented global assessments
by Canadian researcher, Dr Fraser Mustard, indicating that improving the literacy of a community of
young Indigenous girls by an additional year of education, could add as much as four years to the life
expectancy of their first child. As well, the former Director of Aboriginal Health in NSW and WA,
Federal MP, the Honourable Ken Wyatt, added research that showed that an extra year of learning
across a community could also reduce by 7-10% the risk of infant mortality.
After several years of support for grassroots health and education programs, in 2003 we formed a
partnership with the award winning Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, supporting
maternal and child health in four remote communities east of Katherine – Wugularr, Manyallaluk,
Barunga and Minyerri.
In 2004 Dr Jerry Schwab and Dale Sutherland of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
(ANU) prepared “Literacy for Life: A Scoping Study for a Community Literacy Empowerment
Project”. This study underscored the link between a 93% illiteracy rate and the wide gap in life
expectancy compared to non-Indigenous Australians. In this region at the start of the new millennium,
the median age of death for Aboriginal men had plunged to 46 years. Women too were dying of
totally preventable lifestyle illnesses. Too many were incapable of reading a label on a medicine
bottle. The critical literacy to find their way out of a maze of poverty was simply not there.
Working in close partnership with the Katherine Group School Principal, Stuart Dwyer and his remoteschool teachers, it was assessed that most homes in these communities east of Katherine were
virtually bookless. There was little chance for home learning or even parental involvement with
children struggling to read in the absence of reading material.
Dr Jerry Schwab and Dale Sutherland’s sensitive community consultation at Wugularr had
established many local proposals to improve learning in the community as a whole. Among projects
recommended was a Literacy Backpack program.
Jeff McMullen had observed the Navajo Backpacks when filming for the ABC’s Four Corners in the
USA. After further consultation with Aboriginal community leaders and interested parents in these
four communities the Literacy Empowerment Project took shape.
The project consisted of four separate but vitally connected education programs: Early Learning;
Literacy Backpacks; Community Storytelling and Children’s Cultural Support.
A grant of $1 million dollars from the Australian Government in 2005, approved by then Education
Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, supported the growth of this project. FFYs public and corporate
fundraising more than matched the government investment but to introduce the project to some two
dozen communities federal support was vital. In 2008, the Australian Government approved an
additional $1 million grant and a final grant for 2011-2012 of $1.3 million. Over a decade, Ian
Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth conducted fundraising events to raise the additional $4.1 million, putting
the Literacy Empowerment project onto a basis that, in future, could be managed by the schools.
The project has contributed to over 2800 children in the following remote communities:
Wugularr, Manyallaluk, Barunga, Minyerri, Jilkminggan, Urapunga, Bulman/Weemol, Mataranka, Pine
Creek, Timber Creek, Pigeon Hole, Yarralin, Amanbidji, Bulla, Ngukurr, Kalkaringi, Alparra and Utopia
Homelands schools, MacFarlane School Katherine, Ntaria and Maningrida in the Northern Territory;
Bidyadanga, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia; Lockhart River, 800 kilometres north of
Cairns, and St Michael’s Catholic School on Palm Island in far north Queensland.
2. Early Learning
Sunrise Health Service Partnership 2003-2013
On the Jawoyn lands near Katherine NT FFY
developed a long and effective partnership with the
Early Learning health educators of the Sunrise
Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.
The Australian Government grant funded Robin
McConnel as an Early Learning Project officer in the
Aboriginal medical service to train four Aboriginal
mothers as infant carers/teachers. For 4 hours each
morning, Monday to Friday, these women work with
families and infants in Wugularr, Barunga, Bulman
and Weemol. The LiTTLe (Learning to Talk,
Talking to Learn) Program allows early detection of
Otitis Media action to help widespread hearing loss.
La Grange Remote Community School at Bidyadanga in Western Australia was
able to employ a teacher and Education Assistant through our partnership to introduce a brilliant
program of early learning for infants. The training includes work on language skills, print and text, use of
electronic learning systems, problem solving, motor skills and social cooperation to support the transition to
school. Principal, Rebecca Robson, hailed the Early Learning program as crucial and suggested it be
offered to all Indigenous pre-schoolers.
Yarrabah “Books for Babies” Project
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth and the David Morawetz Social Justice Fund contributed $10,000 to
launch a health and early learning project at Yarrabah,
near Cairns, Queensland. FFY injected a further
$20,000 towards the purchase of resources.
The late Moy Sweetnam of the Frangipani Dreams
organisation contributed baby clothes, blankets and
other items.
The "Books for Babies” project was led by teachers in
cooperation with Queensland Health Service and
Yarrabah Community Health Service. The project
helped grow parental interest by providing a ‘resource
pack’ of infant picture books and reading material for
young parents.
Lockhart River Qld Early Learning 2007-2009
At Lockhart River, a remote community of about 800
people, 780kms north of Cairns, FFY contributed early
learning books, toys, cots and other equipment. The
Lockhart River State School introduced the Literacy
Backpack program for about 150 students and their
3. Literacy Backpack Project 2005-2014
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth pioneered the Literacy Backpack program in Australia to build a new
community partnership involving students, parents and schools to improve reading, writing and
Students make regular reading selections from an enriched school library, learn how to be library
monitors and with the assistance of their parents they take home reading material for the whole
The Literacy Backpack Project won a $50,000 NAB SCHOOL’S FIRST IMPACT AWARD and
Jeff McMullen has presented research findings on this program to Australian and International literacy
Stuart Dwyer, Katherine Group School Principal until late 2010 and then Principal at Maningrida CEC
states that the Literacy Backpack has been a significant factor in improving literacy, reading resources
in homes and allowing schools to celebrate milestones in learning.
Students enjoy choosing books and reading together
Guy Leader, Katherine Group School Principal 2010, conducted a fresh regional evaluation and cites
the impact both on community engagement and NAPLAN assessment:
“In 2010, the Ian Thorpe Foundation’s Literacy Backpack Project provided selected books to
1200 students in 17 remote schools in the Katherine Region, an area bigger than the state of
Victoria, to share at home with their families.”
“A testimony to the value and success of the program was shared with Ian Thorpe by a
Traditional Owner of Manyallaluk, ‘the backpack books are good because reading will help our
kids get better job opportunities. We want to see more of our indigenous people with doctor
degree and teacher degree’.
“The Literacy Backpack Project has had a significant impact on increasing students’ NAPLAN
performance. Over the five years that the project has operated the results in reading have
increased 29% for Indigenous students reading at or above the National Standard for year 3.”
At La Grange Remote Community School, south of Broome, the Literacy Backpack Project has been
utilized in the education of all children in this community, 165 primary and 48 secondary students
gained a new access to books for both school and home use.
Teachers at La Grange School reported in 2010: “Results from NAPLAN demonstrate that since
the inception of the program reading levels for students who were in Year 3 in 2008 and are
now in Year 5, have value-added to their score by more than 194 points, which is a fantastic
increase nation-wide”.
A wide selection of books, magazines and newspapers encouraged reading by students and families.
These included big books for early learners, PM readers with accompanying software, reference
books for all ages on culture, history, environment, science, health, sport, hunting, art, music and
dance. The selection of magazines and newspapers chosen by family members included the Koori
Mail, National Indigenous Times, Vibe Magazine, fishing magazines, sport, cooking, nutrition, art and
music magazines.
The use of Libraries
In some communities FFY brought donors to help build public libraries. In most places the program
enriched the school library and trained students in the Agama Program as Library Monitors.
This built skills but also a sustainable way of borrowing and sharing limited resources.
Library Monitors entering data into the computer
Reading stories from the PM Series
Checking out books on loan
"The literacy backpack project has been an invaluable resource for getting reading materials
out in the community. Families are reading books to each other and the community is seeing
the benefit of these resources. The joy on children's faces when they are able to choose their
own book and take it home is priceless. It is a fantastic project connecting student learning
and the community together."
Suzanne Clanton, Principal Wananami RCS WA (former Literacy Teacher at La Grange)
Mum & Nan listening to their child reading
A favourite book to share
4. Evaluation & Key Findings
The key performance indicator demonstrating the success of the Literacy Empowerment Project is the
measurable and observable improvement in reading and writing in more than twenty remote
Without this program, most of these communities lacked reading material for children and adults. The
steady and sustained introduction of a variety of carefully selected reading, as well as the building and
enrichment of libraries, is noted by all independent assessments conducted on the project.
An Australian Council of Education Research (ACER) consultant, David McKay, completed an
assessment for the Australian Government in 2012 and FFY published these findings at length in
2013 with NAPLAN results and measurement by the PM Benchmark Reading System.
ACER noted a critical success factor identified by teachers was the supply of 20 to 30 books at each
of the vital levels in the PM Reader literacy scheme; the program also “allowed schools to run a
successful homework program by providing a consistent way of getting material backwards and
forwards between school and home” and “the greatest benefit has been that the project has created
an opportunity for parents and carers to become genuinely involved in their child’s own education.”
(McKay 2012)
In presentations to two national Indigenous education summits organised by the Stronger Smarter
Institute, Jeff McMullen outlined the results of the literacy program. Lectures and findings were also
delivered at Macquarie University, University of NSW, University of Sydney, University of Newcastle,
Tranby Aboriginal College and Australian Literacy Educators Conferences.
Dr Chris Sarra of the Stronger Smarter Institute praised the overall quality of the Literacy
Empowerment Project, particularly its success in raising community and school expectations and
Neil Gibson, Principal at Minyerri, NT, said the Literacy Empowerment Project was a once in a lifetime
opportunity that had greatly assisted the huge strides made by that community and others.
Professor Patrick Dodson described the Literacy Empowerment Project as a “real opportunity for
schools, corporates and Governments to look seriously at…ways to assist the opportunities that
Indigenous youth of this country might be able to access and utilize, in order to improve their life and
obviously the pride of this nation.”
On the milestone of FFY’s 10th anniversary, His Royal
Highness Prince William of Wales released a video message
congratulating Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth for its education
“ I am delighted to wish the Fountain for Youth a Happy 10
Anniversary and personally congratulate you on reaching this
milestone – your work is inspiring…Sadly by accident or design
some feel left behind or left out, a lack of hope combined with a
lack of opportunity can be truly devastating for any individual.
Giving those in our societies who have been left behind the
tools to rebuild their lives for themselves, to rebuild confidence
and self-belief is truly profound. That is why I applaud the work
that Fountain for Youth is doing to support education, health,
cultural awareness and opportunity for
Indigenous people in Australia. No work can be more
5. Community Storytelling, Culture & History
Through the Literacy Empowerment Project the brilliant children’s authors, Liz Thompson, Alison
Lester and Leonie Norrington have been supported over many years to continue their prize winning
work with Aboriginal students, developing original books and digital stories about Indigenous life,
culture and community.
Books created by students working
with Alison Lester
Liz Thompson’s first series of “Sharing Our Stories” won the Australian Award for Excellence in
Education Publishing. Series 2 has been highly praised by teachers and librarians, becoming a
valuable teaching resource in many schools around the nation.
Kids and elders view the stories
Stephen & Kirkey Possum share a story
At Wugularr, Jilkminggan, Bidyadanga, Lockhart River and Elcho Island, Liz Thompson’s storytelling
team taught students how to write reports and use cameras and audio recorders to upload stories
onto Blogs created for each school. These new online communities allow students to share and
discuss their work. In the Katherine Group Schools, Leonie Norrington and Alison Lester worked with
students to create stories with strong local appeal. These inexpensive readers are illustrated and
printed on-site.
Children taking photos and footage of Beswick Falls for the slide show ‘My Country, Wugularr’
The Iconic Australian Song Series
In a partnership with artists and musicians, Jeff McMullen and Ian Thorpe raised funds to help One
Day Hill publish a series of iconic Australian songs capturing important moments in history with an
unforgettable sense of place. The series was the top selling children’s book set at the 2010
Melbourne Writer’s Festival and was also featured in a special promotion at the Art Gallery of NSW.
These books are illustrated largely by Aboriginal students from the communities that inspired the
songs, guided by the masterful Queensland artist, Peter Hudson.
From Little Things Big Things Grow (Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody), My Island Home & Blackfella
Whitefella (Neil Murray), Solid Rock/Sacred Ground (Shane Howard) and Took the Children
Away & Butcher Paper Texta Blackboard Chalk (Archie Roach & Ruby Hunter).
Six iconic titles
Artwork by Artist Peter Hudson from Shane Howard’s Solid Rock
To celebrate the historic land rights struggle and the Wave Hill
Walkoff led by Vincent Lingiari, Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody
wanted their song, From Little Things Big Things Grow, to directly
benefit the people at Kalkarindji and Dagaragu, NT.
Working closely with elders such as Jimmy Wavehill and Gus
George, FFY and a circle of great friends including the Waters
Family of One Day Hill Publishing and author Frank Hardy’s
daughter, Shirley Hardy-Rix & family, brought to life a little book for
all ages.
Guided by Queensland artist Peter Hudson who walked the country and painted the evocative
landscapes, the Gurindji kids illustrated this inspirational story, immortalised in Paul Kelly and Kev
Carmody’s anthem of the land rights movement.
100% of the funds from the sales were directed to the Gurindji people to help establish their identified
priority, an art and cultural centre that would encourage adults and children to go on creating their
own stories on canvas, in print and music.
Penny Smith works with the community and school to support the children as they combine artistic
expression of this legendary episode of Australian history with furthering their education in a rich
cultural context.
The Karungkarni Art Centre, meaning ‘Children Dreaming’, opened at Kalkarindji in 2010
Hart’s Range Children’s Book
Eastern Arrernte elder, Irene Rieff, tells the story of
growing up in the Atitjere community at Hart’s Range,
nestled below the MacDonnell Ranges on the edge of
the Simpson Desert, 215 kms north-east of Alice
Springs, NT.
The children of the community provided the
illustrations for this book which was put together by
NT educators, Daniel Slade and Susan Moore.
Mary Flynn translated the language story into English
to provide students with an authentic local story rich in
history and culture.
The Northern Territory Department of
Education and Training (DET) produced this
resource with support from FFY and publisher,
One Day Hill, to support the Hart’s Range
teachers and students.
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth provided the
funding for printing. 100% of the proceeds from
sale of the book will go to the Hart’s Range
School for the purchase of books and other
education resources for the students.
East Coast Encounter Exhibition Book
The East Coast Encounter is a multi-arts initiative involving significant Australian Indigenous and nonIndigenous artists, writers and songwriters who reassess the historic encounters by Lt. James Cook
and his crew with Aboriginal people in 1770.
Cook’s voyage along the Australian east coast has become central to national historical narratives
and this exhibition imaginatively explores seminal moments of contact between two world views.
Over a four-year period, Jeff McMullen travelled with the artists, musicians and Indigenous
researchers, engaging with local Aboriginal communities from Botany Bay/Kamay, K’gari/Fraser
Island, Town of 1770, and Cooktown as well as the highly symbolic site of Bedanug/Possession
Island where the English seamen planted their flag to claim half the continent for King George III.
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth joined in to support the final stage of the project, funding the
production of an Exhibition Book to accompany the travelling art show, providing a valuable and
important history resource for all, especially students.
75% of the net profits from the sales of the exhibition book were directed to Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for
Youth’s education programs.
During the first three months of the exhibition at the Maritime Museum in 2014, forums were held, a
related documentary film screened and a stimulating historical experience was created for large
groups of students and visitors from overseas.
The Australian National Maritime Museum has decided to acquire the art/history exhibition as a
permanent resource to share the Aboriginal and English accounts of the voyage of 1770.
For the next several years the East Coast Encounter exhibition will tour other galleries with details at
Michael Cook’s Undiscovered #4
Courtesy Andrew Baker Art Dealer & Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects
Yan-nhangu Atlas & Illustrated Dictionary of
the Crocodile Islands
The late Laurie Baymarrwangga, the deeply admired
matriarch of the Yan-nhangu people of the Crocodile
Islands, toiled for over 20 years to provide a complete
trilingual resource for the children of Northeast Arnhem
Land’s 27 homelands, seven community primary schools,
and six ranger programs.
Working with Dr Bentley James, ‘Big Boss’ as she was
affectionately called by one and all, saw the completion of
this massive book before her peaceful death on 20 August
It was a great honour for Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth
and one of our directors, Albert Wong and his family, to contribute to the publication of this
highly significant education milestone.
Ethically grounded in respect for culture and language, the book has been designed for primary
school children in three languages: Yan-nhangu (an endangered living language), Dhuwal, with just
7000 speakers remaining and English.
Born on the outer Crocodile Islands almost 100 years ago, Laurie Baymarrwangga was a senior
traditional owner of Murrungga Island. She created the Crocodile Islands Initiative to sustain the
language for future generations and share knowledge of the natural and cultural resources. For this
work she was named the 2012 Senior Australian of the Year.
Courageous in her struggle to resist assimilation
with a positive affirmation of knowledge and
culture, Big Boss breathed life into the younger
generation in the homelands and has helped save
a national treasure.
Australia’s Indigenous languages are the oldest in
the world and their sustainability depends upon
complex cultural knowledge linked to country.
To support one of the homeland schools at
Yirrkala, Nhulunbuy, Galwin’ku, Gapuwiyak,
Ramingining, Milingimbi and Maningrida
or to purchase this remarkable book of culture:
6. Children’s Art, Music & Cultural Education 2004-2015
Since 2002 the Walking with Spirits Festival at Beswick Falls, south of Katherine, has developed
into an internationally acclaimed celebration of Aboriginal Culture.
Our great friends at Djilpin Arts, elder Victor Hood, actor and musician, Tom E. Lewis and his partner,
Fleur Parry, assisted by the Australian
Shakespeare Company, use the spectacular
surrounds of Beswick Falls to stage an
unforgettable evening under the stars. Young
people from surrounding communities are
taught how to develop their own stories in
dance, music, animation, puppetry and film.
Visitors from around the world camp with Aboriginal people in
a tranquil, alcohol free setting on the last weekend of each
July. Teachers and students (including some from Geelong
Grammar in Victoria and Barrenjoey High School in NSW)
have shared the experience and opened up new learning
partnerships. This brilliant night of music and dance has been
the foundation of a growing enterprise in art & cultural tourism.
7. Community Cultural Enterprises
The success of the Walking with Spirits Festival inspired a new partnership between the elders at
Wugularr and FFY to restore an old building as the community’s first art and cultural centre.
Led once more by Tom E. Lewis and Fleur Parry, with support from Ian Thorpe, Michael Miller, Jeff
McMullen and Michelle Flaskas and their families, the Ghunmarn Culture Centre now displays one of
the oldest collections of important Arnhem Land art, featuring the paintings of renowned artist, David
Ghunmarn Culture Centre
Before and after
Ian Thorpe's Fountain for youth provided $120,000 for the refurbishment of the old red barn. Credit
Suisse added $36,000 to help Wugularr build its first enterprise, a store to sell art and crafts directly to
At the Opening of the Ghunmarn Culture Centre May 21 , 2007, the Old Man Victor Hood, spoke of
the great pride in seeing the special paintings returned to the community and put on show for all to
see in the upstairs Gallery.
With the support of FFY Board Director, Michael
Miller, Credit Suisse funds were directed to train
young Aboriginal people in management,
stocktaking, retail operations, website
development & customer service & hospitality.
This was the first commercial Aboriginal
enterprise in this remote community. It now has
a profitable shop front business including bush
tucker products and locally made soaps, as well
as the best coffee for a thousand kilometers.
Opening a connected business in Katherine allows the community to
sell their art and pandanus palm sculptures directly to visitors.
Next came construction of the Djakanimba Pavilions, a mini tropical
hotel, designed by Insideout Architects, winner of the prestigious
National Australian Institute of Architects Award - Small Project
Architecture: Nicholas Murcutt Award in 2013. This is opening up
travel and art/tourism on the Central Arnhem Highway.
Tom Lewis and Fleur Parry and the hard workers at Wugularr have
shown how supporting local Aboriginal Cultural development can be
a big stepping stone to enterprise, employment and improved
To visit Walking with Spirits Festival in 2015 or stay at the
Djakanimba Pavilions at Wugularr NT visit the Djilpin Arts website:
Ghunmarn Culture Centre
Djakanimba Pavilions
8. Partnerships & Contributions
Australian Indigenous Mentoring
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth was a foundational
contributor to Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
(AIME) led by Jack Manning Bancroft. This fast growing
program connecting university undergraduates as mentors
for urban Indigenous high school students now reaches
some 3000 students and is aiming for 10,000 by 2018.
AIME is achieving tremendous success, boosting Year 12
completion and University entry rates with a powerful blend
of training, inspiration and mentoring.
Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth has been proud to be a partner in such an important national project
and directed $50,000 per annum to AIME in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Find out more:
Outback Meets the Beach
In the summer of 2008 one of Sydney's most famous surfing communities, North Palm Beach Surf
Life Saving Club, joined with Ian Thorpe's Fountain for Youth to launch a life-skills training program
for Aboriginal children travelling from the remote communities of Wugularr, Barunga and
Manyallaluk/Eva Valley, NT. As well as fitness and water safety, the teenagers are taught emergency
first aid. There is also a small opportunity for local businesses to provide training and work
experience for those who work in the new tourism enterprises back home.
Flippa Ball in the Pilbara
The Melville Water Polo Club developed a
partnership with Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for
Youth to establish Flippa Ball for kids in the
Pilbara communities of Karratha, Wickham and
Roebourne, WA.
9. Acknowledgments
In addition to the projects mentioned, Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth offers sincere thanks to all of
those individuals, organisations and corporations that have contributed to this work:
Albert Wong donated $100,000 to help establish Fountain for Youth and served for nine years on the
board. We acknowledge the service of all other directors: Michael Miller, Robert Beutum, David
Nolan, Ian Levi, Stan Grant, Tracey Holmes, David Flaskas, Mark Sheridan, John Cannings, Glen
Michelle Flaskas superbly managed FFY for the past 14 years, developing outstanding relationships
with Aboriginal communities and living this work every day.
David Glaser’s accounting services and Sally Cartwright’s work at Tester Porter Services made
valuable contributions.
We thank Cameron Roan, Sarah Cain and Mark Nieuwoudt at KPMG for their work as auditors and
advice on many fronts. In our earlier years, Ernst & Young served us pro bono, as did PWC through
our director John Cannings.
The Bestest Foundation through its celebrity chef events has been our most loyal donor contributing
over $383,500 to the Literacy Empowerment projects and long time supporter Kessler Group has
raised $131,300 through their annual corporate team challenge events.
Credit Suisse Australia, Vodafone, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank Local Banking Division and
Westpac Bank Foundation have made significant donations.
Professional Golfers, Paul Gow & Peter Lonard, through their ‘Celebrity Golf Events, raised over
$400,000 in support of Fountain for Youth.
Following the FFY approach of inviting leading corporations to work directly with Aboriginal
communities, 30 ANZ staff took part in the Mission Accomplish Corporate Challenge and raised
$102,000 to build the Bidyadanga Community Library in 2007.
In a combined effort $120,000 was raised with contributions from Norm and Sue O’Neill/O’Neill
Foundation, Dave and Kerry Rickards, Vodafone and Credit Suisse, David Flaskas, Ian Thorpe and
FFY, to construct the basket ball court and shelter at the newly built school in Wugularr, 2007.
The Melbourne psychiatrist, Dr David Morawetz and his Social Justice Fund (Melbourne Community
Foundation) directed a series of grants to help establish the Books for Babies and Parents program at
Yarrabah; maternal and infant health promotion at Kowanyana QLD and support for The Literacy
Empowerment Project.
The FFY iconic song-book series, published by One Day Hill of Melbourne, has raised over $186,000
for literacy, art and cultural education in the four communities where these songs originated.
The Property Council of Australia (NSW) donated $36,800 after an event addressed by Ian Thorpe
and Jeff McMullen. The Newman’s Own Foundation Fund provided a grant of $27,650 in support of
FFY literacy programs.
Individual presentations around the country over
many years by Jeff McMullen & Ian Thorpe
resulted in corporate and private donations being
directed to the Literacy Empowerment Project. In
named Jeff McMullen Humanitarian of the Year
and the $10,000 prize was given to the Literacy
Empowerment Project.
Dr Chris Sarra, Ian Thorpe, Her Excellency Marie
Bashir, Sir Nicholas Shehadie,
Kim Hoggard & Jeff McMullen, 10 Anniversary Celebration of Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth
10. Conclusion
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth has worked hard over the past 14 years to help focus the nation on
its greatest civil rights challenge, to improve the wellbeing of its most disadvantaged children.
Our advocacy for a culturally supportive collaboration with the First Peoples stands in strong contrast
to the relentless attempt by Government to assimilate and control communities.
Our support for isolated and underfunded public schools in remote communities and our championing
of the Close the Gaps campaign has connected many Australians to the education and health needs
of more than 100,000 Indigenous students.
Supported by strong international and Australian research, we established an innovative Literacy
Empowerment Project recognized by all leading educators as among the best in this country.
By organising health and education forums, university programs and addressing hundreds of public
events over these many years we believe that we have contributed positively to the effort to bring
equality to Indigenous Australians.
The now retired Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, spoke warmly at the 10
Anniversary Celebration of Fountain for Youth, praising the commitment and leadership that had put it
at the forefront of education reform.
From the beginning, Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth has been a small organisation that has achieved
big things. From Little Things, Big Things Grow will remain the spirit of our work with a continuing
commitment to equality.
Yours sincerely,
Dr Jeff McMullen AM
CEO (Honorary)
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth
Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth…Stronger, Smarter Children