Contributing to Society

The Man Cave

Overview of Year One

“In this day of individualism there is a need to encourage a sound relationship between individuals and their respect for society… We need to develop real individualism –personal strength, personal skills, self-reliance, responsible personal thought, and the courage as an individual to protest about what one believes to be wrong.”

– Sir Vincent Fairfax, Speech at the 96th Annual Meeting of The Boys’ Brigade, November 1978.

Little Dreamers

Over the past 60 years, VFFF has maintained a strong focus on community-led grant making. We recognise that, in order to truly back young people, we must listen to and elevate their voices, needs and priorities. 

This commitment to youth voice in VFFF grant making shaped the development of the Contributing to Society focus area, which works to increase young people’s agency by building their capacity and opportunities to drive change on the issues that matter to them most.

The first year of granting under Contributing to Society drew on research and consultation that considered how best to amplify the voices of young people in Australia. This process highlighted the importance of recognising young people as experts in their own lives and acknowledging their capacity to create positive change for both themselves and their communities. It also identified that engaging young people’s expertise helps organisations and institutions to move with the times and design more fit-for-purpose services and practices.

The Contributing to Society focus area funds towards three outcomes:

  • More organisations genuinely embed youth voices in their work
  • Young people are equipped and connected to shape better futures
  • A greater diversity and representation of young people influence decisions that affect and matter to them.

The organisations that make up the first year of granting under Contributing to Society have many differences – their size, the young people they work with, their approaches and their geography. However, all ten are united by a common commitment to backing young people to step up as leaders in a way that suits them, to speak up for themselves and their communities, and to develop the skills and networks to meaningfully contribute to society.

Grants Snapshot






of total funding


for core operations and capacity building


to regional areas

2022 Grants

VFFF Board

Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC), $500,000 over five years
Core operations funding for the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition
Supporting the CEO salary and employment of a Communications Manager.

Blacktown Youth Services Association (BYSA), $600,000 over three years 
Youth HQ
Supporting BYSA’s core operations and capability development during a three-year pilot of their youth-led model, ‘Youth HQ’.

Little Dreamers, $900,000 over three years
Building Little Dreamers’ organisational capacity to respond to increased demand
Supporting increased capacity through employment of a Chief Operations Officer and additional Family Support Workers in NSW and QLD.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), $2,000,000 over four years
Civic and Cultural Engagement Pillar
Cornerstone investment in the Civic and Cultural Engagement Pillar and its two flagship programs – the Young Mayors Program and Student Representative Council.

The Man Cave

VFFF Grants Committee

Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corporation, $49,500
The DIYDG Home
Towards one year of rental costs to provide a safe space for young people in the Cairns Region.

Outloud, $50,000 
Youth representation and capacity-building
Towards Outloud’s Youth Advisory Group, digital leadership and fundraising support.

The Man Cave, $50,000
Supporting healthier masculinities in NSW
Towards the recruitment, training and professional development of Man Cave facilitators to deliver programs to young men in NSW.

The Nest Community, $50,000
The Nest Exchange Project
To build The Nest Community’s capacity to expand the Nest Exchange Project beyond the pilot stage.

Traction, $50,000
Leading Self Leading Others
To embed leadership principles into Traction’s existing program offering, developing a series of modules to strengthen young people’s resilience, wellbeing and leadership potential.

Youth Action, $50,000
Youth Action Throughcare Initiative
To support a partnership with the Australian Theatre for Young People, co-designing a theatre production to raise awareness about the need for better throughcare support.

Highlight: Building young people's civic and cultural engagement

It is fitting that VFFF’s largest grant in the first year of Backing Young People should support youth leadership and civic participation – an area of interest for Sir Vincent and Lady Nancy Fairfax.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) backs young people with the trust, resources, skills and connections to make change. Their vision is bold and ambitious – seeking to mobilise upwards of $30m towards youth empowerment over the next three years.

FYA recognises young people’s optimism, drive and ingenuity to transform the future. At the same time, they acknowledge that young Australians are often overlooked as citizens and contributors.

In December 2021, VFFF approved $2m as a cornerstone investment in FYA’s Civic and Cultural Engagement Pillar and its two flagship programs – the Young Mayors Program and Student Representative Council (SRC).

The Foundation for Young Australians

These two programs each target high school students and are designed to be embedded within local communities across the country. The Young Mayors Program seeks to foster civic identity at a young age, working with local councils and young people to form Youth Councils responsible for engaging young people in their local government area – convening consultations, creating a list of priorities and developing an action plan for council. This program draws on youth council initiatives in the United Kingdom, where 11,000 young people recently voted for the 2022 Bristol Youth Council. FYA is kickstarting the program with Mackay Regional Council in Queensland, with a vision to have 15 Young Mayors Projects fully operational over the next four years. 

The Student Representative Council supports students to build their representation and advocate on the issues that matter to them in their schools and beyond. In 2022, FYA has partnered with the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People and the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition to launch an SRC across South Australia. In May 2022, 150 students came together for a Summit to launch the SA SRC and begin developing their vision for change.  

These programs similarly create forums where young people can engage with decision-makers, whether that be their government, school or community. Here, young people can see tangible change from their input, building their capacity and opportunities to drive change on the issues that matter to them most. 



Acknowledgement of Country

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, and extends this acknowledgement to all Traditional Custodians of nations where we fund organisations and activities. We pay respect to Elders past and present, and to the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.