Tribal Warrior is a unique organisation run by a group of Aboriginal Elders and community members who aim to improve the wellbeing, health and opportunities for the Aboriginal community at a grassroots level.

The initiative of Aboriginal leader Shane Phillips and the local police commander Luke Freudenstein, the two set up Tribal Warrior in an effort to reduce the recidivism (habit of relapsing into crime) rate within their community and to tackle the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in prison.

Run in partnership with the Redfern Local Area Police Command, for the past 10 years the team at Tribal Warrior have been working with their mentees by following a simple concept – forming good habits, guiding by example, acknowledging achievements and including everyone. The group has changed the lives of many, transforming troubled teens into admirable community members.

A not-for-profit group who rely on the community for financial support, every dollar Tribal Warrior makes goes directly back to those it seeks to help.

When Sheldon Commercial Interiors Director Robyn Law witnessed firsthand the benefits of the program, she wanted to see how she could help.

“My involvement with a local family allowed me to see some of the challenges facing young people which could easily result in them turning to crime. The Tribal Warrior program played a key role in reshaping the outlook of one of my friends to set him on a more positive path, and I see this replicated many times over. There is so much money funnelled into Aboriginal Affairs but not much of it lands where it is actually needed, so we wanted to create an immediate and tangible benefit to an organisation which was already obviously effective.”

Occupying a small space in Redfern, the Tribal Warrior Mentors’ office featured a hotchpotch of old furniture and Bunnings fold-up tables. Although the office is a small space, it is used by many, and is a safe haven for many of the mentees who like to spend time there. It quickly became apparent that what the Tribal Warrior team needed, Sheldon, with the support of office furniture manufacturers CoDesign, were able to provide.

Working closely with CoDesign, Sheldon donated six workstations to the group, shelf racking to bring some order to the chaotic store room and organised a number of chairs to be donated by Diami. The final and perhaps that which had the greatest impact was the creation of a meeting table by CoDesign that featured the Aboriginal flag.

CoDesign Managing Director Ben Bono described the process, explaining “we did some research on the flag itself to ensure we had sizes, proportions and colours correct to try maintain the authenticity and accuracy as well as understand exactly what it means and represents culturally. We didn’t want to make any design decisions that would compromise the flag and what it symbolises. We then took the information and adapted the support structure to work with the geometry of the flag and the joins required so we could ensure a well resolved product”.

The meeting table was received with an overwhelmingly positive response from the Tribal Warrior team. Not only did the table engender a new sense of pride in their community and themselves, but the new furniture has provided them with a professional, functioning working environment, directly benefiting the Mentors in their daily activities.

The sincere gratitude on the faces of the mentors and mentees during the unveiling spoke volumes, with mentor Eunice explaining that “the table in the shape of the flag is a gift from the heart – it shows an understanding of what we value and what is important to us”.

The space has already been used for training, with plans to hold many more sessions in the newly furnished office.

“The office is looking totally different, new and professional. It will help all the mentors do their job to a much higher level and therefore will benefit all the young mentees we look after” explained Acting Mentor Coordinator for Tribal Warrior, Jeremy Wright. “We really appreciate this support and look forward to keeping you posted on our progress.”