Contributing to Society

Foundation for Young Australians

Overview of Year Two

The Contributing to Society focus area backs organisations and initiatives that increase young people’s agency by building their capacity and opportunities to drive change on the issues that matter to them most. This is driven by VFFF’s belief that our communities are stronger when we empower, enable and listen to young people. We work towards this goal by advancing the following funding 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.

In our second year of granting under Contributing to Society, it was clear that we would not find the best funding opportunities sitting at our desks. We met the four organisations funded this year out in the world – at events and forums, or through new conversations and connections.

These organisations each take a unique approach to supporting young people to contribute to society. Young Change Agents develops young people’s entrepreneurial mindset, skillset and toolset, encouraging them to design and create their own solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges. Youth Insearch’s peer-to-peer Young Leaders Model supports recent program graduates to deliver workshops and core activities, equipping them to lead the next generation of young people in their community. Ethni provides young women of colour with the opportunity to develop community programs based on the needs of their peers, while building their capacity as future change makers. Culture is Life supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who are on a journey to become community leaders through personal and professional development pathways.

Despite diversity in approach and cohort group, these organisations are connected by their common commitment to elevating youth voices. This involves looking outwards at society and identifying ways for young people to be heard – by providing them with the confidence and skills to effect change, connecting them with decision-makers, and facilitating opportunities for them to influence the discussions and decisions that affect and matter to them. Equally, it involves looking inwards and implementing mechanisms that embed youth voices in organisational systems and structures, from co-design processes to identified employment or governance positions for young people.

Young Change Agents

Grants Snapshot






of total funding


for core operations and capacity building


to regional areas



Culture is Life, $600,000 over three years
Strengthening internal measurement and evaluation capability
Core operations funding for internal evaluation resourcing to support Culture is Life to track, measure and share impact.

Ethni Inc., $540,000 over three years  
Building Ethni’s organisational capacity and long-term sustainability
To secure Ethni’s core, supporting the employment of the CEO, Senior Manager and Program Coordinator.

Young Change Agents, $600,000 over two years
Amplifying youth voices and measuring impact
To support core funding for key staff, youth voice initiatives and the implementation of YCA’s Impact Measurement Framework.

Youth Insearch, $682,000 over three years
Strengthening Youth Insearch’s Young Leaders Model
To employ a Learning and Design Expert and refine and strengthen the Young Leaders Model. 


Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC)
Core operations funding for the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition $100,000 (total $500,000)

Little Dreamers Australia
Building Little Dreamers’ organisational capacity to respond to increased demand $275,000 (total $900,000)

The Foundation for Young Australians
Civic and Cultural Engagement Pillar $750,000 (total $2,000,000)

Youth Insearch
YP & Diana Parliament House Aug 2023
Australian Youth Affairs Coalition

Highlight: Ethni

Ethni is a grassroots organisation in South East Queensland focused on supporting young, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women to navigate life’s challenges and drive meaningful social change in their communities. 

VFFF first learned of Ethni’s work at the 2022 Social Enterprise World Forum, where team member Nasteho Mukhtar presented as part of a panel discussion. Nasteho shared how Ethni encouraged her to imagine and work towards a better society. The team supported her to co-create initiatives like Conversations, a safe space for young CALD women to come together and connect on issues they care about. VFFF was excited to hear from a values-aligned organisation with a focus on embracing youth ideas and building young people’s capacity to effect change.


Ethni’s model recognises that young women of colour are best placed to identify, develop and deliver solutions to the challenges they face. Their collaborative approach ensures that these young women are active participants across every aspect of Ethni’s work, from co-creating programs to sitting on the Board. The organisation offers a range of initiatives that build young women’s leadership skills and support them to gain practical experience contributing to society. For example, Our Voices Our Stories enables young women to work as facilitators delivering cross-cultural and interfaith awareness training in schools, sharing their own stories and experiences to educate the next generation. The Ethni team applies a strengths-based lens across all aspects of their work, recognising that with hardship comes courage, empathy and perseverance – some of the key characteristics of great leaders. In the words of Nasteho, “Ethni has helped me be inspired daily by young women who celebrate the strength, resilience, and importance of women in society and emphasise how each young woman possesses the keys to being a leader the world needs.”

As part of the funding process, VFFF travelled to Queensland to spend time with Ethni Founder/Chief Executive Officer Kim Rollason-Nokes and her team. This was also an opportunity to meet some of Ethni’s young people, including Board representative Elizabeth Thomas and Program Coordinator Miriel Nyange, and truly understand the organisation’s approach, strengths, and challenges. We soon realised that Ethni was offering high quality programs and wraparound support on limited funding. Team members were putting in countless “love hours” to ensure no young person missed out on support or opportunities to get involved. This presented an opportunity for VFFF to play a value-adding role by securing Ethni’s core for three years. A grant of $540,000 over three years provides the team with the time and resources to respond to ever-increasing demand and continue to demonstrate the significant impact of their work.


"Our partnership with VFFF has been an incredible turning point for Ethni. For 5 years we have been building a strong foundation. We have worked closely with our community of young women to understand their needs and co-created initiatives alongside them that are meaningful and effective. The funding from VFFF will catapult us into the next exciting stage of growth.



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.