Listen & learn
Paul and Sandra Salteri strongly believe in giving in all its forms, kindness, capital, intellect, time and resources.
We created CAGES Foundation as a vehicle to help strengthen the Indigenous early childhood sector, for First Nations’ children to grow up healthy, happy and safe in culture and identity.
However, we quickly learned that we weren’t making all the positive changes we’d hoped.
So we asked Indigenous communities ‘why doesn’t investment always work?’
‘Because they don’t trust us’ was the reply.
So we delved deeper to understand the impact of distrust by governments and investors.
Indigenous communities spend a lot of time, and resources they don’t have applying for and reporting on grants. Applications and reporting is rigid, onerous, prescriptive about how funds may be used, and how impacts are measured.
“It’s a waste of philanthropic funding to do things that are not going to work on the ground”
Image courtesy of Mudgin-gal Women's Place
A place of discomfort
We knew we had to do things differently.
The first step was listening. Truths of the brutality of invasion and ongoing impacts of colonisation are hard to hear. Everyone at the Foundation had to sit in a place of discomfort to truly understand.
In that process we saw the obvious. Philanthropy traditionally operates in very white, western and rigid systems, where the funder holds all the power over recipients, who are often kept at arm's length.
Indigenous communities hold incredible wealth, 60 thousand plus years of wisdom, expertise and skills. We had to change our way of thinking and working.
Reversing the power imbalance
We had to unlearn much of what we knew and how we operated in the philanthropic world.
This meant truly walking and working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations.
This meant letting go of our power as a philanthropic foundation to those who can create lasting change in their communities.
Aboriginal community controlled and led organisations must have the flexibility, freedom and support to determine how to best use funds. They define their own points of impact and measures for success.
First Nations’ people are the experts. They show us the best way to invest, collaborate and advocate to help achieve their goals.
Holistic and sustained
We didn’t get to this point overnight. We take time to get to know our partners, understand their objectives, and what role we can play in achieving their goals..
In letting go of our power, we gained so much more.
The honour of walking alongside the world’s oldest living culture and seeing First Nations’ children, their families and communities thrive.
“Thanks to CAGES, we were able to respond exactly the way in which our community needed us to, and we were able to provide the immediate supports that were being asked of us as an organisation.”
Building On Community Assets
It is intended that all funding provided by CAGES Foundation enables Indigenous people, organisations and communities to achieve improved life outcomes for their children beyond the life of the funding.
All funding will be directed to organisations that recognise the strong cultural, creative assets of First Nations peoples.
We will only support organisations that work in communities that actively seek the involvement of organisations we fund. We look to foster strong community engagement and prefer the organisations we work with to have community ownership or strong community engagement at a leadership level.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations succeed when they have flexibility and autonomy to implement tailored, holistic and creative solutions that increase community involvement.