Dungala Kaiela

This Foundation aims to support initiatives that will empower First Nations people in the Dungala Kaiela region to achieve prosperity.


Our Journey Towards Parity


Programs We Support

A meaningful set of initiatives focused on employment, education, health and well-being. Each of these programs incorporate cultural identity and affirmation.  

The value of these initiatives was quantified by an academic study from La Trobe University that concluded $1 invested generates $5.45 return in social value.

Dungala Kaiela Writing Awards

These Awards were instigated by a group of Koori women from the Dungala Kaiela region. They wanted children to write stories about things that mattered to them in English and their Indigenous tongue. The Awards give first nation people a voice and encouragement to express themselves and develop literacy in their own cultural styles.

Cultural identity

Being a proud first nation people who knows their stories, customs, rites and totems is important. Programs in this area help youngsters to learn about their past and provide access for members of the mainstream population to learn about first nation traditions, languages, ceremonies and the power of being on country.


Dungala Kaiela Oration

An annual oration jointly sponsored by the Kaiela Institute and the University of Melbourne, in partnership with the Rumbalara Football Netball Club. The aim of this annual event is to host visionary leaders to deliver the Oration that will help inspire those present to create a shared vision for the people of the region. 

This is a major event on the calendar that attracts educators, civic leaders and sports people from the Dungala Kaiela region, Melbourne and beyond.

Senator Pat Dodson, Yawuru man from WA
Dr Moana Jackson, lawyer and Maori leader
Prof Marcia Langton, Associate Provost Redmond Barry, Distinguished Professor Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies
Dr Martin Parkinson, PSM former Sec Dep PMC
Prof Glyn Davis, AC, former Vice-Chancellor of Uni Melb
Noel Pearson, lawyer, academic, founder of Cape York Institute, Bagaarrmugu man
Peter Nash, former Chair KPMG, Board of Reconciliation Australia
Brian Hartzer, former CEO Westpac
Saul Eslake, economist, AFL advocate, Vice Chancellor ‘s Fellow, UTAS
Richard Goyder AO, Chairman AFL
Prof Dr Carmen Lawrence, former Premier of WA
FOTL project overview 2018 - Shepparton[2]


Why Do We Exist

Historical decisions and an overwhelming introduced culture meant First Nations people in the Dungala Kaiela (Murray Goulburn) region were excluded from civic, financial and political decision-making.  As a consequence we lived on the margins.  

We exist to address this imbalance by supporting the dreams of First Nations people so they are no longer marginalised. We invest in leaders so they can create cultural, civic and economic value for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.


What We Do

With collaborative investment we will shift the narrative to a shared sense of future and a shared sense of nationhood for First Nations peoples. To move from a point of imbalance, it is not about them and us, but we.

It is an innovative long-term whole-of-community change process to increase the prosperity and wellbeing of First Nations people in the Dungala Kaiela (Murray and Goulburn) region of northern Victoria. The intention is to improve and advance economic, social and cultural benefits for the whole region.

The DKF Endowment Fund

The Dungala Kaiela Foundation has established an endowment fund, that we call the Future Fund.  Every dollar of the investment income is given to our partner organisation, Rumbalara Football Netball Club so it can continue its award winning social, educational and economic programs. These are the unique attributes of the Club that are beyond the Club’s sporting activities.

Rumbalara Football Netball Club is a critical and unique institution. It is the Nanyak (invincible spirit) of the community, strengthening First Nations people’s resilience whilst engaging with the broader community via sport. It also acts as a safe hub for the 1,200 members and their families.

The Future Fund will permanently underpin the key social, educational, and economic programs so that they can be sustained for generations to come.

 The Fund is professionally managed by Morgan Stanley and is overseen by an Audit, Finance and Investment Committee.

 The DKF has in place appropriate deeds and policies regarding the effective and safe management of its assets.

“Morgan Stanley is pleased and proud to be appointed the fund manager for the Dungala Kaiela Foundation’s Future Fund. This is another example of how we support Australia’s Indigenous people.”


Who We Are

The Foundation was established in 2008 as a non-profit company limited by guarantee. An independent Board that has Indigenous and non-Indigenous members is responsible for its governance.  It has been audited each year without any qualification.  

It is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission and has been endorsed by the ATO as a DGR1.


Our Board

Uncle Paul
Paul Briggs OAM


Executive Director - Kaiela Institute

Steve Rothfield
Steve Rothfield

Board Member

Active advocate for Indigenous people

Colin Carter
Colin Carter

Board Member

Former Chairman of the Geelong Football Club

Justin Mohammed
Justin Mohammed

Board Member

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young people (Victoria)


Our Patrons

Biyala, Yorta Yorta for red gum tree, is the symbol we have chosen for the patrons of our appeal. The Dungala (Murray) river on the ancestral lands of the Yorta Yorta forms the largest continuous natural river red gum-forest in the world. Strong in their foundations and lasting through many generations, the river red gums provide stability to the river banks.

Mike Fitzpatrick
Mike Fitzpatrick
Rob Phillpot
Rob Phillpot


Our principles


First Nations people have a vision and a strong voice to determine their own future.

Repositioning Value

We recognise the sophistication and breadth of complexity of First Nation people’s cultural values in all aspects of life, including spiritual, cultural and economics that underpin our wellbeing.

Regional Ownership and Benefit

All stakeholders in the region will share the responsibility for enacting change and will benefit from it.


First Nations people will have equal opportunities to achieve prosperity and contribute to the region’s economy and civic activities.


We will monitor and measure change so all stakeholders can celebrate successes and progress.


Our Partners and Supporters

We work with a range of partners by funding programs across the social, arts, education and employment sectors to increase the prosperity and well being of First Nations people to the benefit of the whole community in the Dungala Kaiela (Murray and Goulburn) region of northern Victoria.



Making a gift to the Dungala Kaiela Foundation means you are supporting initiatives that will empower First Nations people in the Dungala Kaiela region to achieve prosperity.

Every donor is thanked and will receive a progress report each year.


Contact Us

We welcome questions and enjoy sharing our stories. Please call us on (03) 5822 4364 or complete the form below and we will reply as soon as possible.

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"It is not just about homework, but you can also see friends there. I get a lot of support from the tutors for my homework. My confidence in my schoolwork has really increased. I have loved learning more Yorta Yorta language and about my cultural history."
Student, 14
"I enjoy going to homework club because we get to have fun whilst learning, I get to see my friends and connect with everyone. It’s my culture. And I can learn new things about my history. My totors are friendly and they really help me."
Student, 11
Uncle Paul
Paul Briggs OAM


Executive Director - Kaiela Institute

Paul Briggs is a Yorta Yorta man who has worked to build a sustainable, inclusive and engaged indigenous community through the empowerment of family and youth.

He is the Executive Chair of the Kaiela Institute, Former Chair of the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, President of the Rumbalara Football Netball Club, Inaugural chair of the AFL Indigenous Advisory Group.

Paul has been at the forefront of Aboriginal peoples rights and advancement since the early 1970s.  His leadership saw the establishment of a number of critical institutions including the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisation, the Victorian Indigenous Leadership Network and First Nations Australian Credit Union, the first Indigenous credit union offering national access to financial services.

Steve Rothfield
Steve Rothfield

Board Member

Active advocate for Indigenous people

Steven Rothfield is committed to social justice for the First Nations peoples of Australia. Since his retirement from a long career in general management, management consultancy, IT and finance 15 years ago, he has worked with Indigenous leaders on over 30 projects covering a range of community development areas including economic development, employment, education, governance, arts, sports and cultural development.

He has a Commerce degree, an MBA (Melbourne) and a CPA, and is also passionate about underwater marine life and photography.

He is currently on the Board of the Australian Communities Foundation, Kaiela Institute, Australian Women Donors Network and the Barpirdhila Foundation.

Colin Carter
Colin Carter

Board Member

Former Chairman of the Geelong Football Club

Colin Carter has long engaged with Indigenous organisations – as a director of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and as a founding director, and then chairman, of Jawun which encourages companies to engage with Indigenous Australia. He was appointed by Prime Minister Rudd to a role promoting Indigenous employment.

Colin’s career was with The Boston Consulting Group advising on strategic, organisational and governance issues.  He has co-authored a book on governance, ‘Back to the Drawing Board’.

He has been a director of many non-profit organisations and publicly listed companies. He was also an AFL Commissioner and until recently was chairman of the Geelong Football Club.

Colin has a Commerce degree (Melbourne) and an MBA (Harvard).

Justin Mohammed
Justin Mohammed

Board Member

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young people (Victoria)

Justin Mohamed is the inaugural Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People. Mr Mohamed is a proud Aboriginal man of the Gooreng Gooreng nation near Bundaberg in Queensland.

He has dedicated the past 25 years to working towards building a stronger and healthier nation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mr Mohamed has spent much of his career working in the Aboriginal health and sport sectors, improving outcomes and connections to culture for Aboriginal people, including children.

Mike Fitzpatrick
Mike Fitzpatrick


Retired AFL Chairman

As a West Australian kid living in Manjimup and then in Perth I was very keen on footy. I supported East Perth and their centreman at the time was the great Syd Jackson, who later crossed to Carlton. When I was invited to accompany the Blues on a pre-season trip in 1974, there he was, one of my heroes in real life. Syd and I always had the WA connection, and he looked after me in those early games, kicking those long, perfectly placed balls just in front and above, where you want them.

Over the years we have come across each other infrequently, particularly after he moved to Canberra, but the Carlton connection is always strong. This year, Syd will be the Sir Doug Nicholls Round honouree.

On the AFL Commission there was, and I am sure still is, a focus on Indigenous issues. We saw ourselves as an organisation which could make a difference to Indigenous lives. One of several initiatives was to measure the impact of the AFL, for example tracking Indigenous player and coach percentages. The conclusion was that we were largely succeeding in the former and failing in the latter.

We appointed a committee to develop the AFL’s Indigenous Action Plan and we kept the issue front of mind amongst our fans with the annual Dreamtime at the G game and the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round.

It was during this time at the AFL that I met Paul Briggs, the President of the Rumbalara organisation in Shepparton. Paul was committed, intelligent and quietly forceful, prepared to explain Indigenous perspectives in a clear, and sometimes uncompromising way. The AFL benefited greatly from that interaction, particularly from his inaugural chairmanship of the AFL’s national Indigenous Advisory Board.

So, when he asked me to be a Biyala I was happy to help. Simply put, the duties are to assist in promoting Rumbalara and help raise an endowment of $5 million to provide Rumbalara with steady income indefinitely, and to reduce reliance on government programs. It is an innovative approach, but Paul does not lack ideas! The First Nations Australian Credit Union, the Victorian Indigenous Leadership Network and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation have all benefited from his leadership.

Rob Phillpot
Rob Phillpot


Gravel Road Foundation

I’ve been lucky.  I’ve been dealt a winning hand.  I’m a white man, living in Australia in the 21st century. I’ve had opportunity that not everyone else has had. 

I’m also uncomfortably aware of the divide in our country and the shameful way we have treated our indigenous Australians.  But it’s not enough to just feel like something is wrong – I have to try and do something about it.

When I heard about what was happening at Rumbalara and, importantly, how they were going about it, I was intrigued.  Paul and his team are not angry or bitter – even though they have every right to be.  Instead, they are trying to drive change through inclusiveness, understanding and pride in their heritage. By providing education programs, they keep kids in schools which is great for everyone.  By educating kids on their ancestors, culture and language, they instill a sense of pride in who they are and where they came from – a sense of belonging. When they create a safe place for people of all backgrounds and by opening their arms to non-indigenous Australians, they are fostering understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

Rumbalara isn’t just about the Yorta Yorta people – it’s about the whole community.  It is a simple but powerful program, led by an amazing group of people.  Being a Biyala means being an advocate for the Yorta Yorta people and adding my voice in support of theirs.   It is my dream that this program can be successful for the Yorta Yorta people and the whole community, and then goes on to be held up as a template for other programs around this country. Then we really will have made a difference.