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Case Study:
Art Gallery of NSW
Djamu Youth Justice
Changing lives through connection to culture

The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Djamu Youth Justice program empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Great Oceans young people in the state’s Youth Justice System through cultural connection, shifting young people’s sense of self from that of a criminal identity to a strong cultural identity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Great Oceans young people are disproportionately represented in custody within Australia. Djamu Youth Justice addresses this by offering an alternative path: reconnecting young people with their rich cultural heritage, fostering a sense of identity, and equipping them with tools for healing and self-determination.

Djamu Youth Justice operates on four key pillars:

  • Early Intervention: Through arts and cultural programs, both on-site and off-site at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Djamu Youth Justice helps young people build positive relationships, explore their cultural heritage, and develop creative skills.

  • Collaborative Projects: The program's core lies in immersive, 15-week collaborative projects co-designed with prominent local and global First Nations artists. Projects such as the crafting of water carriers, shields, and boomerangs embed cultural knowledge and values while fostering creativity, community and resilience.

  • Employment: Recognising the transformative power of artistic practice, Djamu Youth Justice aims to create an on-site program where young people can continue developing their skills under the mentorship of the Art Gallery’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs team. This could lead to potential employment opportunities across the Art Gallery.

  • Professional Learning: The program also equips staff from the Department of Youth Justice and Department of Education with the knowledge and skills to understand and appreciate First Nations art and culture, enhancing their ability to support young people.


Statistical data reflects a significant decrease in misbehaviour and violent incidents during project engagement periods. Young people gain a deeper understanding of their identity, experience healing through cultural connection, and develop tools to break negative cycles.

The Art Gallery of NSW is proud to have set the national benchmark for cultural institutions that provide access to arts and culture for young people within the Youth Justice system.


With the Neilson Foundation's support, Djamu Youth Justice is poised to significantly expand its reach. The Art Gallery aspires to connect more young people across Australia and the Great Ocean with their cultural heritage, empowering them to become agents of positive change in their own lives and communities.

We are extremely grateful for the support of these Neilson Foundation for our transformative projects.


Case Study:
Earbus Foundation

Earbus Foundation of WA is a Perth-based, multi-award-winning children’s charity that works to reduce the incidence of middle ear disease in Aboriginal and at-risk children across regional and remote Western Australia. Since its humble beginnings around a suburban kitchen table in 2013 the Foundation has helped over 85,000 children providing 31,500 free hearing tests, 25,000 GP/NP consults and more. Working on over 200 sites Earbus Foundation has reached into the remotest corners of Australia’s largest state – an area the size of Western Europe.

The Earbus idea originated in New Zealand where Professor Harvey Coates AO saw the value it could potentially add to his work as an Outreach Ear Nose & Throat Specialist visiting remote Aboriginal communities. The Earbus idea is simple - take all the services to where children and families live; while a simple concept it presents complex and detailed challenges when applied across Australia’s vast distances, hostile terrain and debilitating weather conditions.

Aboriginal children experience some of the worst ear disease in the world, usually associated with conditions of entrenched poverty. Identified risk factors over which Aboriginal families often have little control include overcrowded housing, poor nutrition, reduction in sustained breastfeeding, passive smoking including open fires, and lack of access to primary care and basic hygiene are often the underlying causes of high rates of disease. Because ear disease can cause a preventable hearing loss these children often struggle with learning to listen and speak and, later, to read and write. Untreated ear disease can have lifelong impacts.


Since 2014 Earbus Foundation has taken teams of doctors, nurses, ENT Specialists, Nurse Practitioners and Audiologists into 200 sites, working mainly through schools, daycares, playgroups and communities. Using customised vehicles as mobile clinics the Earbus team brings all the services in at the same time – the quintessential “one-stop shop” for ear disease. Most communities receive a monthly visit that allows children to have their ears screened, a hearing test, a GP consult if needed and access to ENT review prior to any surgery to fix chronic ear problems. Rigorous, individualized clinical case management is at the heart of the clinical program.


Earbus collaborates with multiple other health agencies, schools, local ear health champions, Royal Flying Doctor and Aboriginal Medical Services including a unique partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation, also a beneficiary of the Neilson Foundation. Earbus Foundation is immensely grateful for the support and generosity of the Neilson Foundation who have played a pivotal role in our continuing growth and success.

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Case Study:
Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS)

Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS) is a non-profit providing essential legal support and advocacy to help people who have fled persecution find safety and protection in Australia.


We exist to achieve justice and dignity for and with refugees through dedicated legal services and advocacy.


Since 1987, tens of thousands of refugees and people seeking asylum have received free, life-changing legal services from our team.


People face a highly complex Australian protection process with little support. RACS’s range of programs reach the most vulnerable refugees and people seeking asylum, including:

  • Women at Risk: women and girls escaping domestic violence

  • LGBTQI+ Safety: people who are not safe in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics 

  • Stateless Children: children born in Australia to stateless parents, who lack the freedoms and protections of citizens

  • Judicial Review: people seeking asylum who have had their refugee claims refused and are at the final stage of appeal

  • Out of Offshore: people who were detained on Nauru and Papua New Guinea as part of Australia’s offshore processing system


Case Study:
Taldumande Youth Services (Australia)

Taldumande Youth Services provides a range of support programs and accommodation services for vulnerable children, young people, and their families, across Greater Sydney.

 Taldumande is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of refuge’ and the organisation was established in 1976 as one of the first youth homelessness services in Sydney. On any given night, Taldumande accommodates over 70 homeless children and young people, and further supports over 1000 children, young people, and their families annually across our range of programs.


Taldumande offers support to children and young people in a variety of ways including accommodation, youth justice diversion programs, family programs focused on the young people at risk of homelessness, and we support survivors of forced marriage. These programs empower and encourage children, young people, and families to live a safe and thriving life.

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Case Study:


Chain Reaction Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation governed by a Board of Directors and with a small dedicated staff committed to finding a way forward to offer appropriate education for today’s children and young people, in particular for those who have had troubled lives and who now battle the challenges of living day to day as they experience it. We see considerable numbers of young people experiencing loneliness, mental health concerns, disengagement from school, and sadly even suicide.

We acknowledge:

  • Society has changed dramatically in recent years.

  • COVID has had significant impact on young people’s social and emotional learning.

  • Technology dependency is impacting young people’s mental health.

  • Renowned psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner says “There is no more critical indicator of the future of a society than the character, competence, and integrity of its youth.”


LEARNING GROUND the principle program of Chain Reaction Foundation addresses these issues. It feeds the need for self-esteem, self-confidence, and trust.

The aloneness, a lack of connection that is in young people can only be resolved through education. That is an education that provides learning about themselves, not just how their digestive system works – but how their emotions work for them. Education about connection and what it means to truly belong is essential to prepare for the value of learning, especially in high school.


SERIOUSLY DISADVANTAGED YOUNG PEOPLE attend Mt Druitt Learning Ground one day per week for a full school year.  It is expected they will attend everyday school the other four days.

Happily, there is strong evidence of 70/80% success with students attending or returning to school following prolonged absences, participating in learning without disruption, being able to engage with staff and other students, acquiring CAN DO skills to enable them to manage schoolwork.


LGiS – LEARNING GROUND IN SCHOOL is conducted in a weekly class conducted in school.  The program is designed as a well-being and belonging learning particularly suitable for young people 12-14 years.  It provides opportunities for students to be heard and understood by both their teachers and their peers.  A program equally designed to meet the needs of teachers and students alike, creating an atmosphere of trust and development of self-esteem and interaction between all participants.  Professional learning is offered to staff who will engage in delivering the program and weekly support is offered to staff together with handbooks, on-line learning, and telephone availability.


FAMILY SKILLS FOR ADULTS is offered to parents and others face-to-face at the Centre, through workshops on-line, and by arrangements ‘in house’ at individual schools.


All Chain Reaction programs support the Australian education curriculum and have been reviewed by Western Sydney University for their effectiveness in schools. 

Chain Reaction is deeply appreciative of the support of its programs by The Neilson Foundation without whom it could not continue its work. Chain Reaction is fighting for the future of Australian teenagers and having its research backed programs made available across the country. 

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