Established in 1999, KARI is Australia’s largest Aboriginal foster care agency. In that time, our goal remains focused on two things: ensuring the Aboriginal community has access to culturally-specific foster care services, as well as access to quality, holistic services.
Today, KARI is proud to employ almost 100 people and has established offices in South West Sydney, Sydney Metro and Western Sydney. We strive to offer a continuum of award-winning services that all begin at general community engagement, move on to models of early intervention and ultimately work to deliver an effective foster care program – all with the end goal of family restoration and preservation.
Our commitment to providing high quality, sustainable services and programs that benefit our community is unwavering. As a result, KARI has been recognised by many as one of the nation’s leading Aboriginal service providers. We seek to help our community flourish. We believe in helping our families to grow strong and we will continue to be the best we can for our community.
Mission, Vision, Values
At KARI, we live by our mission, vision and values. These are reflected in all aspects of the work that we do.
Building strength in families and services.
Flourishing Aboriginal families, youth and communities.
KARI is guided by seven values:
Review everything you do and seek ways to improve both the process and the outcome.
Where possible, KARI services are made available to all Aboriginal people in a community.
Always strive to offer the highest possible standard of service, on time, as promised – we are all accountable for keeping our promise.
4. Strength through Culture
Aboriginal people should experience culture as a living reality, bringing with it a sense of identity and confidence.
Everyone deserves to be respected. At KARI we will speak openly, honestly, and always respectfully.
6. Unity of Purpose
On any professional issues that arise, we work together and speak with one voice. We will also seek out new community partnerships to achieve Aboriginal goals.
Every day, we provide the best possible standards of service.
Every day, we strive to be the benchmark provider of quality services to Aboriginal people.
These values are expressed in KARI’s practical service standards, which are consistently benchmarked and measured.
Our Board of Directors is made up of six individuals, each with their own vast range of knowledge and experience that will ensure KARI’s future growth and success for years to come.
Gary Potts – Chairman
Gary, a Wiradjuri Man originally from Parkes NSW, has spent the majority of his days in Campbelltown. A proud father, grandfather and a devoted husband to his loving wife Debbie, Gary has been a leader in Aboriginal Affairs since 1992. He’s held a number of positions on boards and committees in the Campbelltown/Liverpool areas and is currently employed with the NSW Department of School Education, where he performs a crucial role as an Aboriginal Specialist.
Both Gary and Debbie know firsthand the trials and tribulations that come with being a foster carer – they also know the rewards. They themselves have been foster carers for a number of years.
Gary is honoured to be KARI’s Chairperson and is thrilled to see the service grow to become a leader in the field of Aboriginal child protection, prevention and community capacity building.
Isabelle Phillips – Director
Isabelle’s career began at Redfern Primary School, before moving on to work with migrants and refugees in Fairfield and Cabramatta. From there she took on a position with Vedior, the world’s third largest human capital company, running HR and Talent Management consulting businesses for the Eastern seaboard of Australia.
Today, Isabelle has used her vast expertise to establish her own company,Mackerel Sky – Leadership Matters. The business primarily designs and runs leadership development programs for government, corporates and the not-for- profit sector.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Isabelle is completing a PhD on Positive Psychology and Leadership to add to her undergraduate degree in Adult Education (majoring in Human Resource Development) and post- graduate studies in Linguistics. An accredited coach, she also trains coaches across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China, as well as undertaking pro bono work to coach prisoners.
But family is the real jewel in her crown. Isabelle is the adoring parent of two gorgeous children who adopted her as their Mum when they were three.
Anne Martin – Director
Born in La Perouse, Sydney, Anne has a well-established career in Indigenous Affairs through such roles as State Manager for ATSIC and Senior Advisor to the Chair. Having always placed a particular emphasis on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal youth, Anne has been instrumental in establishing innovative education programs that operate on both a local and national scale. She has also worked on programs in South Africa, Israel, New Zealand and Canada.
Anne is the current Co-Chair of the National NAIDOC Committee.
George Villaflor – Director
George was born in QLD back in 1954 and is a descendant of the Wagiman peoples, NT. He spent his early childhood surrounded by the former police paddocks in Darwin, now named Stuart Park, close to the town centre.
After spending some time at Darwin’s stolen children’s home and the Retta Dixon home, George moved to QLD in the early sixties. His involvement in rugby league kept him out of trouble and at just 16 he played A-grade.
During the eighties, George became involved with land rights with the National Federation of Land Councils in Alice Springs. He worked for North Queensland land council and was the CEO of the first Cape York Aboriginal legal service in the late eighties. Constantly striving for more, George studied law at James Cook University and was admitted as a barrister to the Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court in 2003.
While he’s currently not formally practising law, George continues to work with land rights, as well as the care and protection of Indigenous children. He’s also in his second year as President of the P&C for the local primary school where he now lives in Canberra.
Nicola Micallef – Director
Born in Canberra as a descendant of the Yuin people, Nicola was exposed to Indigenous affairs from an early age thanks to her grandparents’ managing an Aboriginal hostel in Darwin. Her mother was also well entrenched in Indigenous affairs through Indigenous education.
When the family moved to Sydney, Nicola continued her studies and went on to become a proud School Captain, House Captain and a member of the La Perouse Dance Troupe. Nicola has 10 years’ frontline experience working in customer service and administration practices with the Commonwealth Bank and is now employed in a state public service department.
Happily married and the proud mother of toddler Alexander, Nicola continues to support her community whenever possible, particularly in the area of Indigenous child protection and education.
Paul Ralph – Director
A founding member of KARI and current CEO, Paul is a proud Aboriginal man with family connections from both the North Coast and South Coast of NSW. For the past 35 years he has lived in Gandangara Country, South West Sydney.
During his professional career, Paul has worked across a number of important Aboriginal portfolios specific to employment outcomes, housing, education and human services. Such a position has given him the opportunity to visit many Aboriginal communities and witness firsthand the vast social issues affecting Indigenous Australians today – as well as the sheer resilience of the world’s oldest culture.
Since 1999, Paul has been committed to working exclusively in the Aboriginal community sector and has found this to be the most challenging and exciting time of his professional career.