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Shane Phillips, Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation—

building a strong community in inner Sydney

Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-

profit community organisation based in Sydney’s

Redfern. It has been a Jawun partner since 2010.

Jawun recognises that capacity building can only

ever amplify an organisation’s existing efforts, and

does little if the organisation itself is fundamentally

dysfunctional. For this reason, Jawun has strict

criteria to ensure that partner organisations are

Indigenous-driven, place-based, and focused on

addressing community needs. Tribal Warrior meets

all these criteria.

CEO Shane Phillips says Tribal Warrior began ‘when

a couple of old men from the area picked the people

going through real dysfunction and told them, “You

have to be the solution, you have to be the ones who

show our mob that we can fix it”.’

Drug use, family problems, illiteracy, intergenerational

poverty and chronic lack of self-esteem—the first

cohort’s problems were not small. But one by

one, they gained a Master 5 certificate in maritime

operations and achieved more goals—from

learning to read and write to securing jobs and

further qualifications. Shane also teamed with

Superintendent Luke Freudenstein from Redfern

Police Station to initiate a preventative program,

Clean Slate Without Prejudice, which offered

regular boxing training and mentoring sessions to

young people.

Despite a powerful concept and committed staff,

in 2010 Tribal Warrior nearly dissolved financially. It

could not rely solely on individuals, but needed to

build systems and embed skills. Shane remembers

how a timely partnership began:

Jawun made us look at all different dimensions

of the business and how it worked. We had a

lot of people with good intentions and total

commitment to the organisation, but they lacked

skills. And Jawun gave us those.

Since 2010, over 40 skilled government and

corporate employees have worked at Tribal

Warrior through Jawun. They came from some of

Australia’s best known companies—Qantas, Westpac,

Wesfarmers, KPMG, QBE, Allens, Norton Rose

Fulbright—and from major government agencies.

They used their skills and experience to support

the organisation’s evolving model. Enabling rather

than directing, they helped design, implement and


Shane Phillips