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Griffith University launches scholarships to improve NFP funding and heal collective trauma

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Griffith University alumnus Tanner Noakes and Professor Naomi Sunderland have each been awarded Fulbright scholarships.

The Fulbright Program is a flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States of America that aims to increase binational research collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas.

Mr Noakes was selected for the Fulbright Queensland Scholarship based on his academic and professional merit, the importance of his research to Queensland and his connection and commitment to the state.

A self-proclaimed ‘mountain boy’, Mr Noakes grew up in the Gold Coast hinterland, milking cows, tending rainforest walking tracks and working at not-for-profit (NFP) ecolodge Binna Burra.

Now, he is looking to further his social impact in the NFP funding space after the main part of Binna Burra sadly burned down during the black summer bush fires in 2019.

“In Australia, we’ve got causes, we’ve got money, we just don’t have enough people in the social impact investment space,” he said.

“I need greater skills and experience to do that, and I can get that through this program.”

Since leaving university, Mr Noakes has advised some of the largest social impact investors in Australia and made financial models raising $500 million for social impact initiatives and organisations within 14 months.

“At the core of my Fulbright scholarship is taking the next step in the social impact path, by taking more advanced techniques learnt from leading philanthropic universities in the U.S. and translating them into the Australia and Asia context,” Mr Noakes said.

“The network I can get for charity funding from the Fulbright community in the States is unparalleled for what I want to do in impact.”

Professor Naomi Sunderland is a proud descendant of the First Nations People of Australia alongside her family’s diverse European heritage and has been awarded a Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship.

She works at the interface of arts and health disciplines to develop internationally recognised theories, models and approaches for trauma-informed and arts-based research and will soon head to the University of New Mexico to examine the potential of collective community music activities in responding to mass experiences of collective trauma in First Nations and other communities.

‘We’re particularly interested in how this can help heal First Nations communities, but also any community that has a mass experience of trauma,” Professor Sunderland said.

“This could be historical trauma associated with colonisation, genocide, mass experiences of social exclusion or racism, but also things such as natural disasters, war or famine.

“My host Kristina Jacobsen teaches a course on song writing for social change and social justice, so we’ll be merging that with the content I teach at Griffith around culturally informed and trauma-integrated professional practice.

“We’re hoping that by working with First Nations musicians in New Mexico and Arizona through this Fulbright Fellowship that we can come up with some practice guidelines for community and professional musicians.”