The Core Values of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong are to:-
continue the legacy of Towards a Just Society
focus on empowerment
The lives of Sid Spindler and Halina Strnad* are integral to understanding the transition of Towards a Just Society to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Led Fund.
Upon arrival in Australia, both Sid and Halina recognised the dispossession and racism visited upon Aboriginal peoples with the clear eyes of Polish emigres fleeing Nazi Germany. Both were thankful for the opportunity to create new lives in their adopted country but at the same time were conscious that their good fortune came at the expense of the original inhabitants of Australia.
The establishment of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong therefore can be read as a contemporary dreaming story embodying aspects of reparation, reciprocity and reconciliation.
*Co-founder and early member of TJSF respectively
A Culture of Giving
In 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.
The Board of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong is also committed to transparency and integrity at all times in our grant-making. We are acutely aware that the moneys we are privileged to distribute comes with considerable responsibility. We know we have more accountability than mainstream philanthropy because we are beholden to our ancestors, communities and future generations.
We have innate trust in Indigenous people and communities for they are our sisters and brothers.
We firmly believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people and communities know what is best for them and we understand the strengths and the inherent possibilities in all Indigenous communities.
We instinctively “get” self-determination.
We understand too that change in our communities takes a long time and Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong wants to be there for the whole journey.