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Linda King, director of King Public Relations has dedicated 14 years of service to Ganbina. She has played an integral role in creating the Ganbina brand many of you know today, from our current logo to our tagline and colour palette, Linda King’s stamp is on pretty much everything. She sat down with us to talk about her time working with Ganbina and what she hopes to see for the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth who will go through the program.

You worked with Ganbina for an incredible 14 years! How did the opportunity to first be engaged by Ganbina come about?

It was in 2009 when I was introduced to Adrian Appo, Ganbina’s founding CEO. He wanted to showcase Ganbina more publically and needed someone to help him review the brand and overhaul the Ganbina look. Anne Thompson of Thinking Eye Graphic Design and I came up with the current Ganbina logo, colour palette and tagline. We also overhauled the website and developed a full suite of marketing materials, such as brochures and newsletters.

Annie and I came up with the concept for the current logo, with the two hands in front of the sun. The way the hands are placed is about the Ganbina concept of rising up, which is what Ganbina means in the Yorta Yorta language, with one hand helping bring the other hand up. It also shows what Ganbina is, as a model. It’s a hand up, not a hand out, which is what Ganbina is all about.

Coming up with the colour palette for Ganbina was an easy process, we chose red as the primary colour because it signified passion and excitement, which summed up Ganbina.

I also came up with the tag line Agents of Change. It was about communicating specifically the two generations idea. Kids become equipped with the tools and knowledge to create a better life for themselves, their children and then their children, so they really are the Agents of Change.

What were your first impressions of Ganbina? The program, as well as the vision for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Shepparton?

It was the first time I’d ever heard of it. I thought it was a fantastic concept and Adrian was so passionate. I hadn’t worked with the Indigenous community before working with Ganbina.

I thought it was an amazing program because its approach was, and still is, so different in that it set out to tackle Indigenous disadvantage from the ground up by equipping young people with the education, training and life skills they need to become meaningfully employed and act as positive role models for others, thus becoming ‘Agents of Change’ within their communities. It’s such a practical, sustainable methodology.

The goal was so ambitious, and so strong – to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve true social and economic equality within two generations.

What sort of work and projects did you do for Ganbina? Any highlights?

We did a lot of corporate events along with all the branding and helping Adrian with the positioning or public face of Ganbina. We also helped with the design of the office fit outs when Adrian moved to a new office in Shepparton. All those projects were really exciting to develop.

It always gives me a real thrill to follow the journeys of young Ganbina participants from primary school though secondary school to training or tertiary education. Hearing them speak at public functions is so rewarding – they are so confident and accomplished and so committed to giving back to their communities. They are living proof that Ganbina’s approach works.

What have you learnt about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in Shepparton since you’ve been involved with Ganbina?

The whole issue of Indigenous disadvantage. I was aware of it, but I didn’t know the reasons for it. I really come to understand how it’s a legacy that is handed down generation to generation. It was an education for myself absolutely.

The roots of Indigenous disadvantage go a long way back and are very complex. There is no easy fix, it will take time and the work, dedication and patience of organisations like Ganbina to change it. That given the right guidance and opportunities, young Indigenous people can do anything. I’ve never forgotten a quote from one Ganbina participant who said: “Ganbina showed me how to look forward to the future and that’s something I never thought of as a kid. They helped me believe in a better tomorrow.”

What do you hope to see for Ganbina in the future, as it goes into its second generation?

I’m really excited about the Expansion Project. It was such a milestone when Ganbina started the Expansion Project in 2018 I think? Ganbina has a model that any Indigenous community can use and it’s proven that it works. To see that expand around Australia – I tell my friends about Ganbina and they all say, God – why isn’t that everywhere? It’s such a strong program and the model has real merit and is proven to work.

The Expansion Project is fantastic because it’s just helping Indigenous kids everywhere, it’s such a brilliant concept in my view. The most rewarding thing for me is watching the kids come through and seeing them as young children and then seeing them change so much. They go through the program and they develop such confidence in their own abilities. It’s just so inspiring and I love seeing that, you get to see them go onto further training or university, they get jobs – they are also so passionate about giving back to their community. I find that totally inspiring and to me that is the real rewarding part of the program, watching those Agents of Change in action.

I hope one day that there are Ganbina models up and running all over the country.