Who we are

Real Futures - Who we are - Image of staff

We are Real Futures

As an Indigenous company, Real Futures is recognised as one of the most successful specialist employment services providers in the country.

Founded in 2011 by Wendy Yarnold and Brad Carbutt, the company initially focused on connecting Indigenous Australians to the many prosperous career opportunities within the resource sector during the mining boom, as well as helping companies fulfill their Indigenous Participation requirements.

In the process, Real Futures developed a unique, customised recruitment and retention process, servicing people who may have never been considered for such jobs in the past.

Over time, we have significantly broadened our scope to deliver services for all industry sectors, and our success has enabled an expansion of our footprint across Australia. We now have offices in New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Trust, respect and integrity

Real Futures operates from a premise of trust, respect and integrity and this extends to all of our dealings with community, government and business.

The economic impact of our operations has been rewarded with the opportunity to deliver the Australian Government’s Community Development Programs (CDP) in NSW, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. More recently, our offices in Northern NSW, Darwin and Geraldton WA also began delivering Disability Employment Services (DES).

Pride in our achievements

We have excellent ongoing relationships with many local and national companies, who continually seek our services.
A high number of the people we have placed in employment have risen to supervisor or management roles.

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Community Development Program performance rating (14% above national average)

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of VTEC participants told us they feel respected while engaging with us.

73

said they were satisfied or highly satisfied with the overall quality of our service. (DESE post-program monitoring 61%)

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of our 2020 VTEC participants in NSW were still in work after six months. (despite COVID-19)

Our structure

Real Futures is a proprietary company limited by shares.

In August 2017, Real Futures Pty Ltd gained a new shareholder, AngusKnight Pty Ltd (AKG), and became part of the Angus Knight Group.

In 2020 an Indigenous company, NITRAM Pty Ltd, joined the shareholding.

Meet Our Leadership Team

Wend Yarnold

Wendy Yarnold - Chairperson and Founder

Wendy has spent more than 30 years developing successful programmes for Aboriginal communities. Wendy holds a Business Diploma, and her professional experience includes the inception and management of Aboriginal programmes and businesses such as Real Futures, Pathways to the Pilbara and Real Honey.

Wendy supports Aboriginal advancement, including Strategic Training and Employment Programmes, running an Aboriginal Leadership and Management Consultancy and in her position as Executive for Building Australia’s Future Workforce. Wendy is also part of the Aboriginal Registered Training Organisation and a member of the Australian Institute for Company Directors.

Christianna Head Shot

Christianna Cartwright - Chief Executive Officer

Christianna is a Darug woman from Western Sydney who was raised in Wellington NSW. She relocated to beautiful Dunghutti country on the Mid North Coast of NSW in 2002. With over 16 years’ experience, Christianna has extensive knowledge of employment services and played a pivotal role in the development of Real Futures and its mother company Pathways to Pilbara. Christianna continues to drive the growth and development of Real Futures as it diversifies into innovative programs.

Christianna is a strong advocate for gender equality and has driven the implementation and progress of the Women’s Business Second Chance Hub to create best practice and enthusiasm for innovative ideas that can be applied to achieve the advancement and success of First Nations Women.

Melissa Fernando

Melissa Fernando – General Manager Indigenous Programs

Mel is a Gomeroi woman originally born and raised in Moree. After spending her younger years on the NSW North Coast, she relocated to QLD to work in Banking and Sales. 

She joined Real Futures part-time in 2016 to help her Mob into sustainable work and quickly progressed to be a valued full-time team member. In 2019 Mel completed her Certificate IV in Leadership and Management and was promoted to Regional Manager and leads a large team of Employment Specialists across NSW & WA. In 2022, Mel was promoted to General Manager Indigenous Programs. Mel’s focus is managing the development of Real Futures to all industries, this includes Indigenous engagement strategies being realised, actioned, and valued.

Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke - Manager of Bids & Special Projects

Steve has been working in the employment sector since 1989 and the Indigenous Affairs space since 1994. A 30-year career in the Commonwealth Government saw him negotiate, administer, and manage highly effective projects and programs aimed at improving community social and economic participation.

Steve possesses a high-level knowledge, understanding and experience in community engagement and issues facing Indigenous communities and is committed to better outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Steve demonstrates a passion to build and maintain effective stakeholder relationships to support better outcomes for all.

Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa Kelly – Manager WA & TtW Geraldton

Vanessa is Armungu Yamatji Traditional Owner originating for Geraldton Western Australia where she has lived and raised her four children with her husband on Country for the past 30 years. Vanessa has studied Bachelor of Business, majoring in HR Management, and has a qualification in Frontline Management and a Cert IV in Business.

Vanessa started with Real Futures in 2017, firstly as an Employment Development Specialist before being promoted to Regional Manager in WA and then as CDP Manager for Culture and Jobs. In 2022, Vanessa commenced managing the TtW program based in Geraldton, WA.

Supply Nation certified

Real Futures Pty Ltd is proud to be certified by Supply Nation, confirming that we are majority owned, controlled and managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

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of our leadership are Indigenous.

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of our staff are Indigenous.

Meet the board

Real Futures Indigenous-controlled Board is driven by our purpose: to appropriately skill and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to become workplace assets, community role models and economically independent. The Board includes leaders strong in governance, influence and entrepreneurship, dedicated to creating real change and real growth for First Australians.

Wendy Yarnold, Chairperson and Founder

Wendy has spent more than 30 years developing successful programs for Aboriginal communities. She holds a Dip Business and her professional experience includes the inception and management of Aboriginal programs and businesses such as Real Futures, Pathways to the Pilbara and Real Honey.

Wendy supports Aboriginal advancement, through strategic training and employment programs, Aboriginal leadership and management consultancy. She was an executive member of Building Australia’s Future Workforce, and part of the management team for an Aboriginal registered training organisation. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Wendy is an experienced speaker and cultural competence trainer. With community consultation, she prepared a Close the Gap report for the Australian Government to highlight issues in priority areas to determine community implementation planning at a grassroots level. Wendy also contributed to Andrew Forrest’s 2014 reform package in an effort to provide realistic economic opportunities for Aboriginal workers.

Marty Chambers, Director

As a proud Indigenous man with Torres Strait Island heritage, Marty understands the issues Indigenous people face in remote areas of Australia. A great communicator, he builds strong connections with local people and helps communities develop business together.

He has held various Board and executive roles within Angus Knight companies before joining the Real Futures Board. He is the National Indigenous Engagement Manager for the Angus Knight Group working.

Marty is highly experienced and well respected in the Community Development and work for the dole sector across Australia. Marty has a strong ties with multiple Indigenous communities and builds strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

His passion is family and developing communities, where he loves to help build capacity in people.

Duncan Angus

Duncan Angus, Founder and Executive Director

Duncan entered the hospitality industry in 1985, serving in a number of managerial capacities and later focusing on recruitment services to the industry.

In 1991, Peter Knight and Duncan founded Angus Knight as a training services company, which successfully expanded operations throughout Australia, delivering training programs in every State. In 1998, Duncan led Angus Knight in a successful bid for the Federal Government’s Employment Services Contract and most recently growth success in the UK CAEHRS tenders and the acquisition of large and successful training companies, Learning Sphere, and VFA.

As Executive Director, Duncan will focus his efforts on the Groups broader growth agenda. Duncan’s vision has always been to assist people and organisations in developing their full potential using the concept of ‘lifelong learning’.

Nic Fairbank

Nic Fairbank, Group CEO and Managing Director, Angus Knight

Nicolas (Nic) Fairbank joined Angus Knight Group in July 2022. Previously he was Chief Executive Officer of Programmed Skilled Workforce, Australia’s largest staffing business. Responsible for Programmed’s Staffing and Training businesses, he led more than 25,000 people across Australia and New Zealand. He was appointed an APAC Executive Member in 2022 impacting thirteen countries across the region.

He is a passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and gender equality, significantly improving indigenous engagement and female representation in leadership roles as well as participation in traditionally male dominated fields of employment.

Nic is proud to be a Board Member of CEO’s for Gender Equality (CGE) since 2019.

Paul Synott

Paul Synnott, CEO National Indigenous Partnerships

Paul Synnott is an experienced social and economic development professional whose strengths and approach are based on 20+ years of industry experience. A Masters of Business Management (MBM) and Diploma of Employment Services compliment his extensive industry experience.

Paul brings a very logical and practical way of working that is driven by a clear understanding of the objectives and the vision that his clients are striving to achieve. His strengths lie in being able to activate people’s thinking to form solutions. As an enabler of those solutions, he takes responsibility for ensuring people have the necessary skills and systems in place to achieve the desired results.

Paul understands the importance of adopting a whole of community approach to implementing a successful business model and how business needs to be strategic to ensure it effectively utilises available resources to sustain its purpose. He welcomes the challenges inherent in developing service models, solutions, and lasting relationships with clients and communities.

Paul sits on the Boards of RN Employment Services, Real Futures and NESA.

Alicia Newman from St Marys

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