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From Foster Kid to CEO & Founder ID. Know Yourself

It's not what you know it's what you do that makes a difference.

At 17, Isaiah Dawe was travelling back to boarding school after the holidays when his foster carer sent him a text saying he was no longer able to live with them.

When the time came to complete his Higher School Certificate exams, Isaiah wasn’t able to focus on the exam, he was thinking about where he was going to live and how he was going to survive.

Current Work:

This was the genesis for Isaiah to create ID. Know Yourself, the first Aboriginal led organisation delivering 1:1 mentoring and support coordination to Aboriginal children and young people in contact with the Out of Home Care and Juvenile Justice system in New South Wales. As Founder and CEO of ID. Know Yourself, Isaiah is determined to impact the lives of the 22,000 Aboriginal children in Out of Home Care, their purpose is to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and disadvantage by establishing belonging, discovering purpose and empowering positive choices.

Isaiah was a finalist in the 2019 NSW / ACT Channel 7 Young Achiever Awards and winner of the 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander TAFE NSW student of the year. He was also the first Indigenous person to be awarded TAFE NSW student graduate of the year.

Isaiah has now been appointed as a Board Director on the board of TAFE NSW as well as Marist 180 Youth Care.

Isaiah has represented his community at the National Indigenous Youth Parliament, bringing home the major award of ‘Positive Influencer’ and was chosen by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples to represent Australia internationally at the International Visitors Leadership Program in America. Isaiah has also been selected to attend the World Indigenous Business Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Last but not least, Isaiah was also a part of the first Aboriginal team to sail in the prestigious Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht race. Prior to that, the extent of his sailing experience was riding on a ferry across the Sydney Harbour.

Isaiah believes that “it doesn’t matter what you know, what matters is what you do”.

Talking Points

Finding Purpose

After growing up in care as a child Isaiah connected with an Aboriginal Elder, from the Ngunnawal Nation, he taught Isaiah valuable lessons around life.

After a tragic circumstance, Isaiah learnt to find purpose in the wounds of his trauma.

Finding Cultural Identity

“Who’s your mob, where ya from?”

These two questions are often asked simultaneously within the Aboriginal Community, for Isaiah being in Foster care and not knowing of his family or siblings or cultural identity. This is the story of how he established his sense of belonging, healing and empowerment on Butchulla Country with his Elders.

How Focus Creates the Way You Feel

As a child in care, Isaiah was taken away from everything; his identity, his family, connection, love and culture.

The one thing that the system could never take away from him was his mind. He knew that if hee could focus on positive things that he had rather than what he didn’t have it could create the feelings, experiences and circumstances that he wanted in life. He knew he was never going to go to have everything in his life, but he could take myself there in my mind. To change your focus is to change your quality of life.
What a story of resilience and the importance of shared identity. Thank you for the work you do, and for opening our eyes to the way we can be part of the change that needs to happen. MinterEllison

I was so inspired by your passion, intellect and role modelling. Thanks so much for sharing your story. We need to see more like you and hear more truth telling. This is something I will remember for a long time to come. Thank you

Grant Thornton

Isaiah, I’m sorry for the pain and trauma you experienced as a youngster, stolen from your family and I’m so incredibly inspired by the work you’re doing now with other young people. Amazing!


Thank you Isaiah for sharing your story and the importance of leadership, connection and place in healing intergenerational trauma. I am really grateful for these opportunities to get a greater understanding and knowledge within NAIDOC week.


I love the opportunity to listen and learn. There seems to be so many different cultures in the mixture of this diverse country, and so much to learn about connecting people

Cricket Australia

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with all of us today and shining light on the issues facing Indigenous young people.

eBay Australia

Thank you Isaiah for sharing and including us on an important conversation, what an informative and inspirational session

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