NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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NIDA announces The Balnaves Foundation as Principal Patron of First Nations Program

NIDA has announced The Balnaves Foundation as the Principal Patron of its First Nations Program, with a generous donation of $530,000. This philanthropic commitment from the Foundation will enable NIDA to welcome more First Nations students and encourage and support them through their journey and study at NIDA.

The Program includes three significant $90,000 Bachelor of Fine Arts scholarships for First Nations students, three - 6 month paid internships, and funding for NIDA’s first Indigenous Elder in Residence over a six-year period.

This First Nations Scholarship will provide $30,000 per annum for three years, for three First Nations students one starting in 2022 and another in 2023 and 2024.

The student will also be matched with a First Nations Arts Industry mentor, support them with additional travel to home as required and provide an 'On Country' experience during studies.

As a pathway into employment, the Program will conclude with a paid industry internship for each of the recipients at the successful conclusion of their study at NIDA.

In addition to the scholarship program, and as part of the overall contribution to NIDA, the Foundation will also provide funding to enable an Indigenous Elder in Residence to offer wellbeing support and mentorship to all First Nations students.

NIDA CEO Liz Hughes said: 'We are hugely grateful for the generous support and collaboration of The Balnaves Foundation in creating this important next step in NIDA’s First Nations commitment and enabling more creative First Nations artists to undertake intensive learning, creative productions, be networked with industry partners, commence their employment, and at the same time have the mentorship of an Elder in Residence.'

'This incredible contribution will give important opportunities and guidance from the first day at NIDA.'

Hamish Balnaves, CEO of The Balnaves Foundation, said: 'NIDA has a long tradition of training and developing Australia’s future cultural leaders and we are proud to share the exciting vision and strategy to grow the representation of First Nations people in the arts and creative industries. We believe this new collaboration with NIDA and the First Nations Program will provide a sustained and positive impact that begins with students at the start of their training and continues while they develop creative careers.'

The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves AO. For over 15 years the Foundation has supported a diverse range of organisations with the aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and indigenous Australia.

The NIDA Foundation Trust raises much needed funds towards NIDA’s training, education and student scholarships. A full list of NIDA’s scholarship opportunities and details is available at

For more information on The Balnaves Foundation go to

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