July 1 2021
By The Ian Potter Foundation
In 2017, The Myer Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation funded a major study to help them better understand the issue of freshwater in Australia, and how we might improve the sustainable management of inland waters and catchments.
The study identified a role for philanthropy in supporting an independent organisation that could act as an honest broker to work with stakeholders to improve water and catchment policy outcomes. It found that well-designed deliberation was able to rebuild trust in the democratic institutions needed to make decisions for the common good.
In 2019, The Ian Potter Foundation and The Myer Foundation each committed $5 million over ten years to a new entity with the aim of being an independent source of water and catchment policy advice, leading to improved management of Australia’s land and water management. Both Foundations were joined by Colonial Foundation in early 2020, which also committed $5 million over ten years to support this innovative proposal.
With a fundraising target of $35 million, this strategic joint funding commitment was used to attract other philanthropic funders to commit to investing in establishing a national and fully independent centre focused on helping improve the way decisions are made about water and catchments across Australia.
Throughout 2020, various funders joined the coalition, including the Besen Family Foundation, the Miller Foundation and the Wright Burt Foundation, all joining The Ian Potter Foundation, The Myer Foundation and Colonial Foundation as major funders of this initiative. Nine other funders have since joined the coalition to provide the financial support Watertrust Australia needs to operate at scale for at least ten years, but it was $5 million secured from the Kingston bequest via The Ian Potter Foundation, that was pivotal in securing aggregate funding commitments needed to proceed with Watertrust Australia's establishment.
Thanks to this philanthropic collaboration, Watertrust Australia launched in 2021 and will begin to fulfil its mission: to be a trusted, independent, community-led and evidence-based organisation whose role is to catalyse change and help frame future water and catchment policy to serve the interests of all Australians for generations to come.