Building Bridges is underpinned by the need for improved cross-cultural understanding in education and business, and aims to increase opportunities for Indigenous Australians. We believe that by bringing people together and strengthening our connections, we can better appreciate where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s about developing insights into ourselves, our country and our culture.

Building Bridges conducts workshops and cultural awareness programs for schools, community organisations, government agencies and the corporate sector. Tailored for individual clients’ needs, we provide organisations with a range of Indigenous access and ambassadorship options. With a wealth of knowledge and experience in cross-cultural relations, we deliver informed and effective programs to a diverse client base. 

Please contact us regarding for more information on the following services: 


There are numerous views, suggestions and supposed solutions on the question of how to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We have the perspectives of Indigenous leaders, individuals and communities. We have the findings of experts in the field, the voices in the public and private sectors, the thoughts of teachers and students, the plans of politicians, the opinions of the public at large. We have symbolic actions and interventionist strategies. But for now, the divide persists.

It’s a divide that stems from dispossession, a dispossession that continues to gain exposure both locally and abroad, but whose effects – the ongoing disadvantage to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – remain with us. As long as we have this divide, there will be debate around the approaches, programs and funding for Indigenous affairs, welfare and education.

The programs offered by Building Bridges are designed to address this divide, providing pathways for Indigenous Australians to access resources to achieve their ambitions, and conducting effective cultural awareness programs for non-Indigenous Australians. Through knowledge we can develop greater understanding and insight, build stronger relationships, and create more sophisticated programs for education, public policy and the private sector. 

Educators recognise that this has been an area of neglect and are looking to rectify the situation. The corporate sector is making a greater commitment to communities, with an increasing number of companies developing reconciliation plans and cultural awareness policies, and providing their staff with the appropriate training. So the will is there. We understand the need to educate ourselves, to be aware of our different perspectives in regard to both the past and the present. 

By considering our diverse backgrounds and strengthening the connections we already have, we can better develop insights into ourselves, our country and our cultures. Because before you walk across a bridge, you need to build one. 

“more than a deep, sincere regret”



Building Bridges is managed by a core leadership team, drawing on a diverse pool of facilitators, educators and consultants to deliver its programs. 


Russell Smith is an Aboriginal man from South Australia, well-known among Indigenous Australians and key politicians. He has extensive experience in the corporate and philanthropic sectors, in government and non-government organisations, and with educational and sporting institutions. He has been contracted by successive governments and prime ministers, and previously worked for The Myer and Telstra Foundations. In 2004, he authored the Australian Indigenous Guide to Philanthropy, and in 2011, he founded Building Bridges.

Russell’s career as an Indigenous ambassador and advocate provides the platform for Building Bridges’ education programs and organisational liaison. He has lectured on Aboriginal Culture in Primary and Secondary schools in Australia and overseas, and has directed initiatives for the Foundation for Young Australians. His passion as an educator derives from his philosophy of community engagement and cross-cultural dialogue. Russell’s personal history and life experience shapes our programs in a practical and powerful fashion. 



Ben Cunningham (Bencu) is a freelance Creative Director, Producer and designer with 30 years experience in delivering exceptional creative solutions to a wide range of clients. From music industry, film and fashion, to corporate, government and medical, Ben's passion for innovative and creative cut-through is the foundation of his skill. Working with Building Bridges gives Bencu an important opportunity, to help a greater cross section of the Australian community, connect more deeply with their Indigenous heritage.




Sand Hill Road has worked with Russell Smith and his company, Building Bridges, over a period of more than 15 years.

We have employed Russell’s consulting skills to navigate workplace education programs, film set cultural protocols, formal Welcome to Country ceremonies and in-depth board level work with the founders of the group in setting our strategic plans in community project work.

Russell and his team are innovative, authoritative and wholly collaborative in their approach to fitting a brad range of needs into achievable timelines and budgets.

Russell is an extremely gifted communicator, and an overwhelmingly generous guide as he steps companies, schools and individual groups through best practice consultation.

We could not recommend he and his team more highly. And we feel blessed to have his expertise on hand.

Andy Mullins
Director, Sand Hill Road


Russell Smith’s consulting to The Long Walk over the period of the last 6 years has been an invaluable resource for the Board to call on as it sets is strategic priorities in continuing Michael Long’s visions for advancing the interests of not only Indigenous Australians, but in fact, all Australians. So much so that the Board and Michael himself, asked that Russell consider joining as a board member in 2017 Russell continues to provide enormous drive, integrity and creativity in assisting the Board manage its charter.

It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him working with us, and we recommend his skill sets, both personally and professionally, with the highest possible gratitude.

Andy Mullins
The Long Walk