WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO.
At Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong, we recognize the importance of understanding our history, culture and where we come from. Our philanthropy supports individuals and community groups that are committed to creating a better future for First Nations people. We strive to be a voice for those who need it, and to bring about positive change in our communities. We believe that everyone deserves access to resources that will make a difference in their lives. We are committed to providing grants and assistance to those who are in need, and to helping them build the future they want for themselves, their families and their communities.
PAST COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong are extremely grateful to all of our past committee members who have supported our mission and shared our vision. We acknowledge their support in building what KWT is today.
History‘Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong’ is the first First Nation Community-Led Philanthropic Fund to be established that exclusively focuses on Victoria. Named for country by prominent Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr, Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong means “to give jointly, to share together” in Woiwurrung language. It's officially launched on March 1st 2019 at Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum and then commenced granting through its established networks with Woor-Dungin and the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership from April onwards. It operates as a sub-fund within the Australian Communities Foundation. The history of its formation is very interesting. A sub fund of Australian Communities Foundation called ‘Towards a Just Society’ had for 14 years supported First Nation people and communities in Victoria via its grant-making. Their members decided to transition the fund into Indigenous control and over the last two years engaged in a thoughtful and respectful transfer process to achieve this goal. Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong will honour the legacy of "Towards A Just Society" and their belief in First Nation agency by evolving its own distinctive Indigenous grant-making vision and practice, based around traditional cultural values and the principle of self-determination. The hope is that Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong goes from strength to strength and achieves a prominent profile as a game-changing player in the Victorian Indigenous philanthropic context. It will also seek to promote investment through government, philanthropic and community partnerships.
A Culture of GivingIn a sense, it can be said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Philanthropists. Our way has always been to share resources amongst our mobs. Food and materials gathered every day were distributed amongst community according to need – no one was left wanting. Everyone was fed. Our backgrounds, too, as First Nations’ Peoples are ones based on love and caring. There was a place and role for everyone, a shared identity based on the interconnectedness of kinship and language. Our societies were relationship-based. Everyone had responsibilities to the mob. Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong’s grant-making process seeks to reflect these traditional First Nations’ values and is focused on sharing, nurturing, reciprocity and relationships. We therefore understand the importance of working with grantees before, during and afterwards – we value the relationship, not just the project being completed. Our Executive Officer will visit individuals and communities for a yarn regarding proposals. There will always be someone for grant seekers to get help and mentoring from. We will provide feedback to all unsuccessful applicants immediately after every round of granting, and, where appropriate, encourage future submissions. Because we understand the nature of community work, there will be flexibility around deadlines, (if needed), to take into account cultural and community issues that sometimes arise. As a lot of the challenges and opportunities for our mobs are known and shared, the conversations around granting can be more honest and based on trust. Also, because the communities we are investing in know us and we know them, there will be a mutual desire and commitment to success.
Handover EventHandover event, Monday 19th November, 12-2.00pm This event was held to mark the establishment and handover of funds from Towards a Just Society Fund to Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong, a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Led Fund. It began at the offices of the Australian Communities Foundation in Wellington Parade, East Melbourne and involved walking over to the scar tree by the MCG for a special handover ceremony. Aunty Diane Kerr provided a Welcome to Country and Hayden Raysmith (AM) was the master of ceremonies. In the audience were representatives of the Australian Communities Foundation, the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership and Woor-Dungin as well family representatives and contributors to the Towards A Just Society Fund and the Advisory Group of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong. Julia Spindler, the co-founder (with her late husband, Sid Spindler) of Towards a Just Society Fund, read a letter announcing the transfer and a copy was received with pleasure by Terori Hareko-Samios on behalf of the Koondee Woonga-gat Advisory Group. Acknowledged in the process also were the significant contributions to the new entity by the BB and A Miller, and Williams sub-funds and the estate of the late Les Dalton amongst other supporters. A lovely atmosphere of good will and optimism was felt by everyone, with the ceremony dignified by the enduring presence of the ancient scar tree. Letter presented to the Advisory Group of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong, at the official handover event from Towards a Just Society Fund members to the Advisory Group of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong. The event took place on 19th November, 2018, by the scar tree in the MCG carpark. Extract: Dear Board members, On behalf of the members of the Towards a Just Society Fund, I have much pleasure in confirming our intention to transfer the accumulated donations of TJSF members to Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong. Today’s handover event recognises the over twelve months of commitment and planning by yourselves and other Woor-Dungin partners, Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership alumni and Towards A Just Society Fund associates, which we greatly respect. This point could not have been reached without the strong contributions of Woor-Dungin in hosting the administrative support aspects, the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership, and the Australian Communities Foundation in providing the umbrella structure and detailed support. From the time of its founding in 2002, TJSF members have had a strong awareness of the dispossession of Aboriginal communities, particularly through the eyes of co-founder Sid Spindler and early member, Halina Strnad, who were acutely aware from their own experiences of social injustice and perspectives as migrants. TJSF members see this handing over of funds as a highly appropriate action in the ongoing journey of supporting the empowerment and self-determination of Aboriginal communities, particularly in recognition of Aboriginal peoples’ rights as the original inhabitants and custodians of the land we all now occupy and the consequent need for reparation. We offer our best wishes for your endeavour, and any further support you may require. Yours sincerely, Julia Spindler TJSF co-founder