First Nations Funder Network

Mon, 30 Oct 2023 02:00pm - 03:00pm AEDT

Monday 30 October 2023

2.00pm – 3.00pm AEDT (ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC)

1.30pm – 2.30pm ACDT (SA)

1.00pm – 2.00pm (QLD)

12.30pm – 1.30pm ACST (NT)

11.00am – 12.00pm AWST (WA)

Join us to discuss how the philanthropic sector will continue to work with First Nations organisations and communities’ post-referendum, honouring principles of self-determination.

Our First Nations funders network co-chairs, Leah Armstrong and Adrian Appo OAM, will lead a discussion reflecting on the role of philanthropy following the referendum result. They will also outline their plans for the First Nations funders network and their call for philanthropy that fosters better giving, meaningfully supports and respectfully partners with First Nations organisations and communities. 

Jack Heath, Chief Executive Officer of Philanthropy Australia, will wrap up the session by exploring the next steps and practical ways we can support First Nations organisations and communities.

This session is an important opportunity to reflect and move forward on how we can continue supporting First Nations communities towards self-determination, equity and justice.

Please note:

  • Presenters will share their thoughts and views in conversation but will not offer any financial advice.


This event is for Philanthropy Australia funder members only. If you want to find out more about the philanthropic work in this area, please reach out to [email protected].

Network co-chairs

Leah Armstrong – Co-Founder, Chairperson and Board Member, First Australians Capital

Leah, a Torres Strait Islander, is a senior professional with over 25 years’ business and not for profit experience. Throughout these years, Leah has led the establishment and growth of some of the premier national Indigenous economic organisations and currently Leah is leading First Australians Capital in innovating how Indigenous enterprises access capital and support. This includes an ambitious Indigenous-led and managed impact investment fund.

Leah currently serves on several Boards including a Trustee of The Nature Conservancy (Australia), Reserve Bank of Australia – Chairperson First Nations Advisory Group, Philanthropy Australia (PA) – member of the First Nations Governance Committee and Co-Chair of the First Nations Funders Network.. 

Adrian Appo OAM – Lead, First Nations Investment Strategy at a private philanthropic trust

Adrian Appo is a Gooreng Gooreng man from South East Queensland. He joined Yajilarra Trust in 2021 and works on their First Nations investment and 10 year spend down strategy. 

Previously, Adrian was founding Chief Executive Officer of Ganbina (an Indigenous school-to-work transition program); founding Co-Chair of First Australians Capital; founding Board member of Children’s Ground and founding Board member of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE). He also holds a number of board positions.

Opening remarks

Vicki Norton – Director of Strategic Projects, Philanthropy Australia

Before being appointed as Blueprint Implementation Lead, Vicki was the State Manager for Philanthropy Australia’s NSW and ACT members. During this time, Vicki also oversaw the national New Gen Network for Next Generation Philanthropists and Change Makers. She is the First Nations funders network facilitator, supporting the network co-chairs.

Prior to joining Philanthropy Australia, Vicki managed the National Education Program at the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) for 10 years, building the fledging program into a comprehensive range of initiatives. Vicki also established the ACO’s Emerging Artists Program, which is now one of Australia’s leading artist development programs, and the ACO’s regional touring orchestra, ACO Collective (previously ACO2).

Prior to her role with the ACO, Vicki worked in operations and orchestral management with the Australian Youth Orchestra and the University of Melbourne. She holds a Masters in Education from UNSW.

Closing remarks 

Jack Heath – Chief Executive Officer, Philanthropy Australia

Jack sees philanthropy as a driving force for good in a time of diminished trust in institutions and huge societal challenges. He advocates for a philanthropy that is big-hearted, clear-headed and joyful.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne in Honours Arts and Law, he served in government as a diplomat, speechwriter and senior adviser to federal ministers including Prime Minister Paul Keating. Then, following the suicide of his young cousin, Jack led the establishment of the ReachOut youth mental health organisations in Australia, Ireland and the USA before serving as CEO at SANE Australia for over 8 years.

He has sat on a number of advisory boards and committees and received awards for his contributions in mental health, including a Centenary Medal.