MESSAGE FROM THE CEO

Updated: Mar 22


Hello everyone. As you’re aware, these past few years have been extremely challenging for many people and businesses, including us here at First Hand Solutions. The bushfires, COVID and now the floods have impacted the lives of many Australians and their families, communities and businesses in ways we could never imagine. 


For us, we have been severely impacted with the temporary closing of IndigiGrow and the loss of many events, with the Blak Markets cancelled for much of 2020-21 as well as the National Indigenous Art Fair.


The cancellations were particularly hard on our young people and all the small businesses and remote communities who missed the cultural elements, networking and income generated by these well-loved community events.

 

When restrictions were brought in during the pandemic, we made the difficult decision to close the nursery to the public to protect the health and well-being of our staff and community, even though we could remain open. This was challenging, but for every negative, there were positives. For starters, we could spend more time building our IndigiGrow nursery infrastructure and retail space. It allowed us to build the retail section much quicker than we'd anticipated, and we were able to propagate and sell many plants.


What I'm most proud of is that we didn't have to lay off any of our staff during this difficult period when we witnessed many thousands of people become unemployed across Australia.

 

As we continue on our journey through this year, I sense that things are finally getting back to some kind of normality. In February, the Blak Markets returned to Bare Island for its ninth birthday, and more than 2000 people attended. It was great to see people’s growing hunger for authentic Aboriginal culture and products. By showcasing our culture and stories at the markets and the annual art fair, we’re educating the broader public about who we are and what we can do. These events offer an opportunity for everybody to contribute to closing the gap. 

 

New wholesale nursery at Matraville High School

 

I’m excited to announce that IndigiGrow is expanding, and we’re currently building a new wholesale nursery and native food farm at Matraville Sports High School. A wholesale

nursery opens up many more opportunities to enhance our supply chain, including trade and landscaping customers, and to increase our capacity to grow our partnership with Harris

Farm Markets and supply more stores.


I'm particularly pleased about building an educational native food farm in the school because it means teachers can design learning activities that engage, educate and connect students

to native foods. Having curriculum-based learning about native foods gives students opportunities to use these foods in their cooking classes and enjoy the wonderful flavours and health benefits our ancient foods provide. This whole expansion project has direct benefits to the school and community with opportunities for students to participate in school-

based work experience, traineeships and potential apprenticeships.

  

In closing, I would like to welcome a few new employees to our amazing team, apprentices Klaiha Waugh-Ridgeway and William Last, and senior staff member Vanessa Taaffe. I'd also

like to highlight and thank all of our wonderful staff who have worked so hard during exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Without your belief, commitment and dedication, we

simply couldn't do our work and achieve life-changing outcomes for our mob. I'm incredibly proud of all of you. 


I also want to thank our many partners who continue to have confidence in our work and generously support us to keep the lights on. It's an absolute pleasure to work with all of you,

and I hope we continue to do so for many years to come. Also a shout out to our loyal customers and followers who continue to support us in any way they can. 

 

Finally, a huge thank you to our lovely volunteers who kindly give us their time and energy to help our social enterprise flourish. We couldn’t do it without you!

Peter Cooley

Chief Executive Officer

https://www.firsthandsolutions.org/

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