It’s been a busy few months since our last newsletter. The program management team and I have recently undertaken a week-long scoping trip to the Northern Territory visiting Alice Springs and Darwin. A personal highlight of the trip was a site visit to Children’s Ground approximately 50km outside Alice Springs, by one of our Board members, Mr Alex Chernov, along with myself, Community Wellbeing program manager, Alberto Furlan, and program officer Lauren Monaghan. We enjoyed the company of local elders, their families, Children’s Ground staff, and all shared a meal of traditionally cooked kangaroo tail.
During this trip our Arts program manager, Louise Arkles and program officer Subhadra Mistry also met with arts organisations and artists to learn about Alice Springs’ unique and vibrant arts community. The entire program management team also presented to more than 60 Darwin-based not-for-profits at our Grantseeker Forum held at Menzies School of Health Research.
I’d like to thank all those organisations we met with and that helped us host sector events. It is invaluable hearing directly from those organisations and individuals about the specific challenges and the opportunities they wish to explore.
As a national funder, we are committed to supporting not-for-profit organisations across Australia. This recent trip gave the team and myself an opportunity to engage with many NT-based organisations, community groups, local government representatives and members of local Indigenous communities. These exchanges are designed to provide an informed perspective on the type of support that best suits the particular circumstances of those communities.
It is therefore pleasing that at our September Board meeting grants were awarded to organisations from every state and territory. Of these, four grants will directly support programs to improve educational, health and wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous Australians. You can read more about the latest grants awarded below.
At this meeting the Board also decided that the Foundation will no longer award Conference grants. The decision to close this funding area was made after an extensive review of past grants and applications which showed that while financial support from the Foundation is no doubt valuable to Australian conferences, it is not pivotal to bringing international keynote speakers to Australia. Over the past five decades, the Foundation has invested close to $2m to support 290 conferences. We are now confident that local conferences can continue to flourish without the Foundation’s support. The Board have also decided to suspend Travel grants through 2019 while a review is undertaken of this program area.
I’d like to congratulate Philanthropy Australia on the launch of Foundation Maps: Australia at its recent annual conference. The Ian Potter Foundation helped fund this initiative alongside Gandel Philanthropy and Perpetual Trustees. Philanthropy Australia has partnered with the US-based Foundation Center to provide a resource rich in grants data that will help philanthropic funders make more strategic grants. Our team look forward to using this highly interactive and searchable mapping platform as part of our future grantmaking.
Lastly, I’d like to welcome Rikki Andrews to the team. Rikki will be looking after the Education program area while Nicole Bortone is away on twelve months maternity leave. Rikki has a strong background in the philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors so will hit the ground running. We wish Nicole and her new family all the best over the next year and look forward to meeting her new team member.
Image: Craig Connelly (left) and The Hon Alex Chernov AC QC (right) meeting with MK Turner OAM at Children's Ground.