FIRST HAND SOLUTIONS
First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation (FHS) was established October 2012 with a mission to build empowered, resilient indigenous communities through cultural reconnection, education, employment and enterprise. FHS combines social innovation, cultural protection, education and social enterprises to bring significant positive change to a variety of social indicators including reducing prisoner reoffending, caring for children and the elderly, community regeneration, financial inclusion, employment and building pathways to further education, and employment (including self-employment through small business).
It has three projects Blak Markets, IndigiGrow and National Indigenous Art Fair. The first is a social enterprise arm, Blak Markets. A micro business hub for Indigenous businesses, providing economic development opportunities, pathways to access markets and business support. Blak markets operates eight times a year at Bare Island La Perouse, and The Rocks in Sydney. They also operate at other locations such as Blak markets pop-up shops and via our online store. The market also provides employment and training opportunities for youth focusing on arts, barista, retail, food preparation and supervision through the development of our own pop up coffee, food and retail stores at the markets.
Indigenous artists, especially in remote/regional communities are often restricted to the production part of the supply chain. The Heart in Art project builds on the Blak Markets model providing them the opportunity to participate and learn from the market-place and collaborate with others nationwide.
The Heart in Art Fair is this exchange of both business and social, professional and practical skills, linking all artists with access to a marketplace pathway as well as collaboration and celebration. Of course the advantages dont stop there with outcomes in audience development and diversity, professional development and education of people and artists about “Fake Art”.
First Hand Solutions specialises in developing and implementing educational and community-based programs and services for Indigenous people and are ground-breaking in our hands on approach to closing the gap in Aboriginal communities. FHS’s community programs and services are designed to boost self-esteem and self-confidence for parents and their children by enhancing relationship building exercises, based on respect and mutual responsibility. We always work hard to ensure that programs delivered are engaging for parents, children and young people, teachers and students, the Elders and community representatives.
The programs focus on teaching participants identified skills, which include strategies to encourage participation, engagement and negotiation techniques within the school environment, Indigenous communities and the broader community in a positive and supportive way. We are able to incorporate both arms to support and further both through artists visits, talks and demonstrations at schools, and education about authenticity and intellectual property from a young age.
The second project is IndigiGrow which is 100% Aboriginal-owned, run & staffed not for profit native plant nursery. The nursery sustains people, land and culture through the propagation and sale of local critically endangered native plants and the revival and sharing of cultural knowledge. IndigiGrow supports and employs local young Indigenous apprentices and senior staff in permanent, culturally safe and supportive jobs on country.
The IndigiGrow team passes down traditional knowledge to its young Indigenous staff and provides opportunities for the wider community to engage and learn about culture. In just 4 years, IndigiGrow has grown from 2 staff to now employ 7 full-time apprentices and a further 3 senior staff. The team has facilitated volunteering and education sessions to a diverse range of groups and the business includes retail sales at La Perouse Primary School and a new wholesale nursery at Matraville High School which will launch in January 2023.
The third project The National Indigenous Art Fair (NIAF) is an ethical marketplace, offering a unique opportunity to buy artworks directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from remote community-owned art centres from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.
In the spirit of the 2023 National NAIDOC theme as well as featuring a vibrant program of live music and Aboriginal dance performances, weaving circles and more than 25 Blak Markets stallholders from around New South Wales selling art, jewellery, gifts, homewares, and Indigenous bush food and plants.
NIAF 2022 follows the successful 2019 fair, which hosted 30 remote art centres from the Northern Territory, South Australia and West Australia, 25 Aboriginal stallholders from around New South Wales, and attracted 10,000 visitors over two days. This fourth annual event is presented by National Indigenous Art Fair founders, Sydney based First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation, in proud partnership with: the Port Authority of NSW, the Australia Council, University of Technology, Sydney, the City of Sydney, and support from the federal government’s Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program.