Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

First Hand Solutions

First Hand Solutions


Reconnecting young Indigenous people to traditional culture through the passing down of knowledge and skills from elders.

First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation is based in La Perouse and their aim is to find hands-on solutions to issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which is primarily achieved through both their community programs and their social enterprise Blak Markets.

2016 Pitch
Funds raised: $22,930

In November 2016, First Hand Solutions pitched for the second time at TFN Sydney event and raised $22,930 to employ a young at-risk Indigenous person to learn and work on their Blak Markets and community programs. Eventually this new employee will be trained in Barista, retail, food supervision and other duties, including managing their online and pop up shops, and assisting in the delivery of their programs in schools and community.


The impact...

When First Hand Solutions CEO, Peter Cooley, presented alongside Ashley Little, they spoke passionately about the plight of Aboriginal youth, and their disconnection to their culture. The Blak Markets were born to address this by creating a pathway for Indigenous youth to reconnect with their cultural traditions through education and instil a refreshed sense of pride.


The Blak Markets carries on the tradition of building people as well as communities, and offers employment opportunities to these young people. Peter and Ashley pitched for funding to hire another young Indigenous person to help with running the Blak Markets. And, thanks to the generous pledges of the Funding Network community on the night, they have.


Meet Taylor - a proud Blak Markets employee. When Taylor went to her first day of work, she didn’t go to just any workplace. She was going to an aboriginal workplace. The Blak Markets exists to show the young aboriginal people it employs, as well as the wider public, the richness of the culture and their place in the future of that culture. 

“We love to be involved (with the Funding Network) as it is one of the few avenues for us to fund capacity building which is probably one of the most crucial things for our sustainability but usually the hardest to get funded.” - Peter Cooley, Founder & CEO, First Hand Solutions

See their Impact Report.

2014 Pitch
Funds raised: $19,500

First Hand Solutions pitched at a TFN event on 5 November to raise funds for The Back to Bush project - a cultural re-engagement program for Aboriginal youth aged between 9 and 14 who have offended, or who are at risk of offending, or in out-of-home care. FHS presented in aid of fundraising for 15 Aboriginal youth placements in the Back to Bush community program. The program engages and supports young Aboriginal males through culture and mentoring. $19,500 was raised. 

The impact...

The connection to culture and country can be physical, social and spiritual. It is precious, its value is unlimited, and its positive impact on individual and community wellbeing is something First Hand Solutions recognise, gauge and endorse. 

Promoting cultural re-engagement as a tool to address issues experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Back to Bush program runs camps offering access to the mentoring wisdom and experience of Aboriginal elders: connecting young people with their heritage and creating opportunities to experience pride and to practise resilience and leadership skills. Each placement cost approximately $500 and FHS raised sufficient funds ($19,500) to directly fund 36 out of 40 Aboriginal participants to join 5 staff and 10 community leaders in two 3-day Back to Bush camps. 

Offering young people an understanding of culture, skills and knowledge creates a foundation on which to build an understanding of heritage, a sense of ‘country’ as a place of belonging and, ultimately, their own sense of self. The relationship of stories to ‘country’ has long been held sacred among Aboriginal people: FHS embraces this storytelling as a means to deliver and monitor the impact of the camps.

Taking time to 'slow down' and grow has been equally important to the team at FHS who, 12 months on, describe their own experience with TFN as 'priceless'. With sharpened networking skills and an increase in self-confidence and credibility, FHS credits TFN's pitch training with helping the organisation secure $47,000 additional funding from other sources.  


Read their Impact Report

Learn more about First Hand Solutions.

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