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A new CEO and other exciting news


It is a pleasure for me to introduce myself as the new CEO of Community Spirit Foundation.

I am a strong Aboriginal woman born and raised on GunaiKurnai Country with cultural connections to Yorta Yorta and Torres Strait Islander People.

I am so excited for what is ahead for Community Spirit Foundation. I have already begun the delightful process of getting to know the Community Spirit Foundation teams; it has been so heartening to see the drive and passion that exists in our staff ranks. (You can read the story below about Khanita Sukaserm, who has achieved her Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership.)

I have hit the ground running to set our intentions for the foundation and am looking forward to working with the teams to plan for the future. This will ensure our programs are structured and delivered in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for the 1,600 First Nations young people we work with, and their families.

I have also enjoyed hearing about the strengths of our partner communities, and look forward to visiting in the coming months.

Kind regards,

Shellee Strickland

CEO, Community Spirit Foundation


A note from Community Spirit Foundation Chair Larissa Behrendt:

We are delighted that Shellee has been appointed Community Spirit Foundation CEO.

She will grow the stalwart legacy of former CEO Jade Colgan, and build on the strengths of the foundation to realise opportunities for the partner communities we serve.

Her proven record of developing and implementing strategic plans, passion for driving positive change, and enthusiasm for meaningfully partnering with our partner communities and supporters, makes her the ideal person to lead the foundation into the future.

The Board and I are looking forward to working with Shellee and the Community Spirit Foundation team to realise our goal of deepening our impact and supporting more First Nations young people through sustainable expansion.


Walking the talk: learning never stops

It wasn’t always easy hitting the books after a day of delivering class programs, but Khanita Sukaserm believes in the power of knowledge.

Supported by the Community Spirit Foundation, Khanita – a Senior Program Coordinator based in Woorabinda, QLD – completed a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership. The course has provided her with tools and confidence that she draws on every day in her role.

“I learned a lot about organisation governance and was able to put the theory of what I was learning into practise as part of my job,” she said.

“It was so reassuring to know I was on the right track, especially when I stepped into the senior management position.”

While the course covered a range of valuable topics, including leadership, communication skills, community engagement, presenting and media liaison, Khanita said the unit she found most interesting was the one that covered maintaining and protecting cultural values in an organisation.

“It is so important in Aboriginal-led organisations like ours that we insert our protocols into everything we do,” she said.

“Now, when I’m sitting in a meeting, I have more confidence to put culture first.”

Read more about Khanita's story here.


Broadening Horizons in Brisbane

Seven Year 11 students from Woorabinda and Palm Island travelled to Brisbane, where they visited Queensland University of Technology to hear from the First Nations unit and take part in a STEM workshop. The students also cooked up a feed at a culinary school; cheered on the Broncos and Roosters; discussed transitioning into sports careers; soared through a treetop adventure; and workshopped their goals and aspirations for life after school.

A visit to Princess Polly – a CSF funding partner – gave students a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gold Coast headquarters, and provided them with an insight into the range of careers available in fashion.


Connecting with Country in Kakadu

It was a special week for ten VET students from Wurrumiyanga, who travelled to Mirrar Country, where they stayed at Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp on the edge of the Jim Jim River system.

The students spent time with the Djurrubu rangers who are working to manage and conserve the area, made clapsticks, swam at the spectacular Maguk Waterfall, saw ancient rock art, spent time in the Warradjan Cultural Centre and cooked bush tucker.


Community Spirit in Cairns

For eleven Year 11 and 12 students from Wurrumiyanga and Galiwin'ku, it will be hard to beat their first time snorkelling. The group travelled to Green Island where they snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, as part of a Horizons camp to Cairns. They saw turtles eating seagrass and marvelled at tropical species of fish and corals.

The students also travelled to Mossman Gorge, where they enjoyed a Dreamtime Walk, learned about Kuku Yalanji culture, heard from the National Indigenous Training Association. They also cooked a Torres Strait Island chicken curry, which they enjoyed for dinner.


Coming together for community engagement

Community Spirit Foundation team leaders came together in Woorabinda recently for community engagement capacity building.

The team visited Woorabinda State School, where they introduced themselves to the students and shared a bit about home. They spent time in the Woorabinda Indigenous Knowledge Centre, where they learnt about the rich history of the area, and identified family connections. They also spent time with a local principal where they looked at ways to support students to overcome barriers and challenges they face in the school system.

The success of our work is inextricably linked to our relationships with our partner communities. By workshopping challenges and opportunities, learning from each other’s experiences and sharing their hopes and aspirations for the programs they deliver, our staff will be better equipped to foster and strengthen community partnerships.


Did you know that up to half of Australian adults do not have a legally binding will? Community Spirit Foundation has partnered with Gathered Here – an online will provider – to help our partners and supporters write and update their will.

There are no strings attached to using this service; it’s completely obligation free. But, if you choose to, you can use this process to pledge a gift to Community Spirit Foundation to ensure your legacy, and our work, continues well beyond your lifetime.

To access Gathered Here, visit, and for more information about how a gift in your will can create a legacy of lasting change, visit, email or phone 03 9686 4813


"I was born on Palm Island and have lived here my whole life. I have a family of five with four sons and one daughter, Dzintra Sibley, who is enrolled in the HIPPY program for 2023.

I know the HIPPY program will help Dzintra gain her imaginary, thinking and exploring skills. She’s a quick learner and I can’t wait to see how the year will turn out for her with all the activity packs that she will receive. I know the HIPPY program will help her get ready to start Kindy the following year.

I also love how the HIPPY program delivers all the stationery that my child needs, as this does help with all the colouring-in that is needed for her to do and complete the activities."

~ Mickeal, Palm Island parent


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