History | Operation Flinders Foundation



History | Operation Flinders Foundation




The Early Days

The Operation Flinders Project was set up by Pamela Murray-White in 1991. Pam was a teacher and former army officer. Upon completion of her army service she returned to her teaching duties at the Beafield Campus dealing with students with behavioural problems. She realised then that there were some outdoor elements of army life and culture that could have some positive effect on some of the Beafield students.

Pam sought and received assistance from local Defence Force personnel to set up a program for these young people. The Army provided personnel, stores and logistic support, without which the program would have been unable to function.

Pam had spent considerable leisure time in the northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia and therefore resolved to run the Project in this area, on Moolooloo Station west of the town of Blinman. Station owners, Keith and Leslie Slade were friends of Pam and supported her vision. She conducted one Exercise in 1991, with a modest 35 participants. By 1993, she was conducting 3 Exercises. A total of 99 participants attended.

Over the next two years Pam pioneered the program mostly with young people sourced from the South Australian education system. A number of staff from that government department joined Defence Force personnel to provide support all on a voluntary basis. The South Australia Police Department was encouraged by her to view the project as a positive crime prevention strategy. As a result, serving police officers joined her energetic and motivated team.

During this time, Pam refined and adjusted the concept of the program to emphasise those elements that seemed to be having the most significant positive effect and to minimise or delete those elements that didn't.

Autobiographical notes, Pam Murray-White

I had the good fortune to have been raised in northern NSW where the clean air, pace of life and outlook of people gave rise to my understanding of things natural, uncluttered and honest. I played a lot of sport whilst growing up the old saying jack of all trades, master of none, being applicable in my case. I wasn’t a bad horsewoman, played hockey, softball, swam competitively and learned to fly gliders.

Because of a change to the structure of my family (divorce!) I completed my schooling in New Zealand. This had the effect of changing my career plans (Agricultural Science at New England University) to Teachers College at North Shore, Auckland. I became quite political during that time of my life. My father and I had raging arguments about my left wing attitudes. He has since been appeased by my throw-away line, all thinking students have a leftish period when they challenge the status quo.

Life as a tertiary student was simple if not a challenge. It was the era of the Vietnam war, yet I don’t remember too much about that. What was important was that the Enid Blytons Noddy was banned from University Readings and literary giants declared that he was a homosexual and violent! We had clandestine Noddy Readings whilst consuming beer and battered oysters month after month.

In 1970 I started a 16 year teaching career, moving from high schools in NZ, NSW and SA. I taught English, Australian History, Social Education and PE. For some five years of that time I wrote text books and programs for Open Access Education. By that time my specialist area was Social Education.

By 1980 I needed another challenge, and I tossed up between returning to tertiary studies (ho hum) or undertaking an 18 month Officer Training Course with the Army. I chose the latter which was fun and fortuitous because it paved the way for me to take leave from the Education Department and spend four years as a Staff Officer (Operations) with the Army in SA.

I was a field artillery officer at that stage, but subsequently did courses in Electronic Warfare and Training and Development, which gave me an interesting outlook on life.

Let me pause to say that during all this career stuff I had married and been blessed with Karmen. She and I had lots of adventures together as she was growing up. I think the relationship was unorthodox because her father and I were only married for five years, so we tackled life together.

In 1987 I remarried. The lucky fellow (still) is Tony White a Duntroon graduate who once, for a short time, was my boss in the Army. The days of calling him Sir and saluting him morning and night are over, much to his chagrin. Tony is now retired from the Army and is helping to put together the ANZAC Ship Project.

Back to me. Life as a remarried with lots of new kids and a groom who was often OS necessitated another career change for me. I returned to the Education Department in 1991 to assume a new role in Behaviour Management. Home is on a 10acre patch not far from the Whispering Wall on the edge of the Barossa Valley. As a consequence I have developed an interest in wine particularly the reds of the Barossa.

It was in those early days of 1991 that I conceived Operation Flinders. It just seemed right, as the kids with the real behaviour problems seemed to lack direction, self esteem, decent challenge and good role modeling.

To date I have been supported totally by a dedicated team of risk takers who have shunned red tape and tackled the project with humour and vigour. We are where we are today as a result of these folk. They are what makes Operation Flinders so special.

Some day I will ride in the 100mile horse endurance race called the Quilty. But right now the challenge is to make Operation Flinders a confirmed part of the SA Calendar.


Pamela wrote the above article in 1993.

Pamela passed away on the 13th of August, 1995 as result of cancer. She didn’t get to ride the Quilty but left a legacy to the young people of South Australia which lives on.


Our Cause | Operation Flinders Foundation

Our Cause

To transform young people's lives through world leading, evidence-based remote, outback intervention programs.

Our Cause | Operation Flinders Foundation

Our Cause

To transform young people's lives through world leading, evidence-based remote, outback intervention programs.


Our Cause

To transform young people's lives through world leading, evidence-based remote, outback intervention programs.


Operation Flinders Foundation is to provide young men and women who have been identified as being at risk, with demanding outdoor challenges and support, to help them develop their personal attitudes and values of self esteem, motivation, team work and responsibility so they may grow as valued members of the community.


Increase access to programs for young people at risk.

  • Effect a positive life change for young people at risk by improving self esteem and confidence, improving the rate of return to education and encouraging young participants to seek employment.

  • Reduce the recidivism rate of young offender participants in the Foundation’s program.

  • Continually improve the quality of the Foundation’s program.

  • Engage qualified, motivated, experienced, permanent, contract and volunteer staff.

  • Effectively respond to the needs of relevant agencies.

  • Increase the resource base of the program through support from the public, corporate, benevolent and private sectors.

Values Statement

Operation Flinders Foundation will:

  • Provide a safe, satisfying, enjoyable, and fun experience for the young people who participate in the program

  • Respect the rights, privacy and individuality of all people who participate in the program.

  • Be customer focused.

  • Provide a healthy and safe work environment for staff, volunteers and participants.

  • Understand and have respect for the cultural diversity of our society.

  • Show respect for the environment in all of our activities and set an example for our participants.

  • Provide an enjoyable work experience for staff and volunteers.

  • Provide open and regular communication between staff, volunteers and management.

  • Have a commitment to total quality management.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct requires that any person performing any service or activity which will identify them as part of the foundation must:

  • Support and champion the values of the Foundation

  • Act with honesty and integrity and openness

  • Treat everyone with respect and courtesy, and without harassment

  • Comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone in authority

  • At all times behave in a manner that upholds the good reputation of the foundation

  • Disclose and take reasonable steps to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest

  • Use the foundation resources in a proper manner

  • Demonstrate competence, commitment, conscientiousness and diligence in the performance of duties and

  • Maintain the confidentiality of any information obtained or accessed in the course of service for the foundation


Young people identified as “at risk” are provided with a psychological circuit breaker intended to increase resilience in order to tackle the challenges of life. The program is especially designed for those from environments with family dysfunction, drug abuse, and physical abuse to improve self-confidence and self-esteem, ability to work in teams, and ability to accept responsibility.

Operation Flinders participants demonstrated significantly improved self-esteem, attitudes towards criminal behaviour, and classroom behavior (refer to Evaluations here). 


Board | Operation Flinders Foundation


Board | Operation Flinders Foundation





His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC
Governor of South Australia.


Father Brenton Daulby, OAM

Honorary Medical Officer

Dr. Michael Nugent
Clare Medical Centre

Honorary Auditors

Moore Stephens (Graeme Rodda)

Life members

Alec Mathieson OAM
Dennis Mutton
Bruce Eastick AM
Peter Cochrane OAM
His Honour Mr Kingsley Newman AM  


Mr. Neil Smith
Mr. David Scicluna
Hon. John Dawkins MLC
Mr. Craig Fleming
Mr. John Chamberlain
Ms. Jo Marshall
Mr. Geoff Walsh (JP)
Ms. Kerry de Lorme
Mr. Andy Byrne 
Mrs. Jan Beasley
Mr. Tony Catt
Ms. Grier Neilson
Mr. Simon Klapish

young Ambassadors

Mr. Ayrton Koning
Mr. Nick Yorston


Mr. Rob Stobbe
CEO SA Power Networks

Deputy Chairman & Treasurer

Deputy Chair - Hon. Kevin Scarce, AC CSC RAN (Ret’d)
Chancellor, University of Adelaide Treasurer

Treasurer - Ms. Simone Dyda
Director, Ernst & Young


Ms. Meg Lees
Retired Public Servant

Mr. Tim Hughes
Director, Hughes Public Relations

Ms. Caroline Kerkhof
Head of Communications, Trility

Dr. Ellie Lawrence-Wood
Researcher, University of Adelaide

Ms. Janet Leske  
Director, Literacy Australia 

Mr Andreas Clark
CEO, Wine Australia

Mr Terry McGuirk
Managing Director, McGuirk Management Consultants


Management Team | Operation Flinders Foundation

Management Team

Management Team | Operation Flinders Foundation

Management Team

Management Team

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Chief Executive Officer

Mr John van Ruth

Tel: (08) 8245 2600
Mobile: 0407 188 443
Email: JvR@operationflinders.org

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Business Development Manager

Mr Jonathon Robran

Tel: (08) 8245 2602
Mobile: 0427 774 265
Email: jrobran@operationflinders.org

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Logistic Manager

Mr Mark Thomas

Tel: (08) 8245 2605
Mobile: 0427 767 107 (Office/Mobile phone)
Email: logistics@operationflinders.org

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General Manager, Programs, People and Culture

Mrs Linda White

Tel: (08) 8245 2611
Mobile: 0417 419 221
Email: lwhite@operationflinders.org


Facilities Manager

Mr Ian Roberts

Tel: (08) 8648 4817
Mobile: 0417 046 684
Email: iroberts@operationflinders.org

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Business Development & Events Manager

Mr Phil Johnson

Tel: (08) 8245 2666
Email:  pjohnson@operationflinders.org

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Ms Kim Vanstone

Tel: (08) 8245 2666
Email:  kvanstone@operationflinders.org

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training manager

Ms Lana Dulic

Tel: (08) 8245 2666
Email:  training@operationflinders.org


Awards | Operation Flinders Foundation


Awards | Operation Flinders Foundation




Thinking of Eagles

Annual Report