Backing Young People

Backing the Future 2022 NSW recipient Jae Brieffies with her team

Approved in 2023






*average VFFF Board grant size


in multi-year grants


to regional areas


for core operations and capacity building




New South Wales



Backing Young People
Year Two Reflections

The second year of VFFF’s Backing Young People strategy has seen the development and implementation of new and innovative approaches to grantmaking. This includes funding 19 individuals across rural and regional New South Wales and Queensland through the Backing the Future grants program and listening to the perspectives of young people through the inaugural VFFF Youth Advisory Group.

$10.6m was allocated to organisations and individuals working to support young people with innovative opportunities that advance their independence, social purpose and future security, across four focus areas including Caring for the Environment, Contributing to Society, Decent Work and Exploring Christian Faith and Values.

Year Two has also been a year of collaboration for VFFF, including the Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE) Grant Program being developed alongside sector peers. Additionally, the first strategic partnership under Backing Young People was approved in FY23 to the Brotherhood of St Laurence to support the National Youth Employment Body (NYEB) and their youth employment policy reform agenda.

The second year of granting under Backing Young People showcases a versatile and diverse group of organisations and individuals focused on supporting young people.


Culture is Life, photograph by Mikaela Egan

Backing the Future

In May 2022, the VFFF Grants Committee celebrated 10 years of granting. This year the Committee’s role shifted from funding organisations with grants of up to $50,000, to supporting individuals through the Backing the Future grants program. Backing the Future, which was designed by a Working Group of third and fourth generation Fairfax family members, awards $50,000 grants to individuals working to advance an early stage idea, that supports rural and regional young people in NSW and QLD. In this financial year, we completed the first two rounds of this program, funding 19 individuals.

Backing the Future seeks to make philanthropic funding more accessible for individuals, making use of the flexibility that is available to VFFF as a charitable trust. It also reflects VFFF’s focus on supporting strategically aligned work in rural and regional NSW and QLD. A highlight of this program has been watching the Grants Committee members, made up of third generation Fairfax Family members, enthusiastically listen to and act on the feedback of our Youth Advisory Group when assessing these grants.

Below is a list of the 19 Backing the Future grants approved this year. These projects take place in a variety of rural and regional communities in NSW and QLD. Successful recipients across both rounds are progressing work that is demand-driven, youth-led and/or informed, and grounded in an understanding of place and community. 





"Agcess is backing the future by creating pathways into agriculture for young people with a disability and empowering agribusinesses to be transparent about their accessibility. The VFFF Backing the Future grant has enabled me to bring to life a tailored, accessible careers site. This is an important part of the solution for broader diversity, inclusion and economic growth in our rural communities."

Cohort One - NSW

BTF collage

Bevis Masson-Leach
A pilot series of hip hop writing and production workshops, in the regional towns of Armidale, Bowraville, Moree and Newcastle, to pass on the skills, knowledge and experience of local artists to young people.

Callum Champagne
Grow the Future
Providing young people in the Bega Valley Shire with the opportunity to participate in work experience and regenerative skills training.

Emily Jones
Building youth engagement with their local councils
Supporting young people in rural and regional NSW to have the skills, networks and knowledge to better engage with their council.

Hayden Tonazzi
Regional Youth Performing Arts Engagement Partnership 
A 12 month pilot program in regional NSW to increase young people’s engagement with the performing arts through workshops and productions.

Jae Brieffies
Bright Generation Careers Education Program
Providing careers education opportunities to regional NSW students.

John Alevras
Young Change Makers
Delivery of a 10 week program in South East NSW to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to become change makers in their local community through a system of permaculture learning.

Josie Clarke
Ability Agriculture: pathways & accessible roles in agriculture
Building a job site advertising accessible roles and work experience in agricultural enterprises in regional NSW.

Rebecca Murray
Youth Entrepreneurship Program
Mentoring young people to start their own businesses in the Hunter Region and connecting them with the life of a local church.

Scott Baker
Bioluminescence on the Far South Coast
A series of workshops for young people across the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley shires to capture the local environment on film and create site specific video projection mapping events for the broader community.

Cohort Two - QLD

Cilla Pershouse
Theatre mentorship and showcase program
Supporting young people impacted by flood events in the Wide Bay-Burnett Regions to develop and perform a new theatre work celebrating the community’s resilience.

Elisha Taderera
Home of Champions
Providing mentorship and skill development opportunities for young people in the Wide Bay region.

Jameson Harvey
Red Dirt Robotics
Touring regional and remote Queensland to bridge the gap in STEM knowledge between rural and metropolitan young people.

Joanne Walters
On Country Young Entrepreneurs
Supporting Aboriginal young people in Yarrabah to learn entrepreneurial and employment skills to prepare them for the future of work.

Lala Gutchen
The Erub Mer Digital Language and Culture Initiative
Deepening the knowledge and use of the Erub language amongst local young people through storytelling, drama and fieldwork.

Mason Black
The Betterment Cause
Touring rural and regional Queensland, visiting schools and communities to challenge inappropriate behaviours and cultural misogyny in young men.

Murray Hancock
Dialogues @ School (“D@S”)
Supporting schools to run a non-competitive annual dialogue event, providing students with an opportunity to blend social and critical thinking skills.

Priscilla Jaya
The Faithful Foundation of Legacy Leaders
Providing a safe environment for young people to explore their faith and develop Christian leadership skills in the Fraser Coast region.

Rizina Yadav
Young Women’s Policy Submission
Developing a policy submission on how to improve the life outcomes of young women in Australia, with a particular focus on those living in rural and regional Queensland.

Sarah Chapman
STEM Change Makers
Connecting young people in Townsville and surrounding areas with STEM experts, enabling them to learn new skills and utilise STEM to address community issues.

VFFF Youth Advisory Group

"Young people have so many incredible ideas to better our communities, we just need someone to back us and help make them a reality. Not only is VFFF stepping up to give young people the support they need through Backing the Future, but they are also walking the talk by bringing together the VFFF Youth Advisory Group to help inform their granting, and I’m so glad to be a part of it."

VFFF has long held a priority to support community-led work and actively engage with the people and places we fund. When developing the Backing Young People strategy, a natural next step was considering how we could embed youth voices in our own work and decision making. A youth advisory group offered the opportunity to hear directly from young people and apply their insights and expertise to our grant making.

In June 2022, we recruited the inaugural VFFF Youth Advisory Group, guided by two key eligibility criteria: members must be aged between 18-30 and, in line with VFFF’s commitment to supporting regional Australia, must be living in or connected to a rural or regional community.

When designing the Youth Advisory Group, VFFF established the following key principles:

  • Members would be paid for their time;
  • The group would be provided with a clear scope of work and autonomous decision-making power; and
  • Members would have access to professional development and networking opportunities.
L-R: Charlotte Watson, Florance McGufficke, Elise Lane, Harrison Garlick, Stephanie Pearson, James Atkinson and Andrew Taukolo

In FY23, we were thrilled to work with Youth Advisory Group members Andrew Taukolo, Charlotte Watson, Elise Lane, Florance McGufficke, Harrison Garlick, James Atkinson and Stephanie Pearson.

The group’s primary responsibility is to shortlist Backing the Future applications for the Grants Committee, providing a youth perspective on each proposal. We have been fortunate to receive their advice on whether certain activities or initiatives are likely to resonate with young people, and hear their reflections on particular challenges and opportunities in rural and regional communities. Alongside this, members of the group have presented to VFFF’s Board and Grants Committee, suggested new ideas and improvements for Backing the Future, contributed to VFFF communications, and provided ongoing insight into the needs and priorities of young people in 2023. VFFF commenced the group’s professional development with an in-depth ‘Philanthropy 101’ session, which introduced members to the giving space in Australia.

The Youth Advisory Group process has demonstrated the power of engaging directly with communities to strengthen and inform our decision making. It has also highlighted the great wisdom, energy and generosity of young people, and their willingness and capacity to contribute to the social impact space.



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.