There are many problems that need to be addressed in our society. No one philanthropic foundation can expect to focus on all issues. That is why the Board of Governors continues to refer back to the Foundation’s Vision and Mission to maintain focus on making a difference.
In October 2018, the Board added ‘sustainable’ to the vision of the Foundation to reflect the history of The Ian Potter Foundation as a strong supporter of Australian environmental and conservation initiatives.
The four elements of our renewed vision – vibrant, healthy, fair and sustainable – inform all of our funding objectives. From 2020, the Foundation’s funding areas will align with these pillars. It is, however, important to note that our funding principles which have underpinned the Foundation grantmaking remain constant. We support social sector organisations and leaders that are outstanding in their field; we focus on prevention and innovation; we encourage long-term thinking; and we look to leverage philanthropic funding to gain support from other sources such as government, business and community.
Reading through this report, you will see one or more of these attributes in all the not-for-profit organisations that were awarded $24,492,163 in 112 grants in fiscal 2019.
Over the past year, we have also celebrated the successful completion of a number of major grant projects with the opening of several landmark cultural centres and one world-leading mental health facility. The Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts at Monash University and The Ian Potter Southbank Centre (the heart of the new campus of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music) are state-of-the-art education facilities and performance venues that will encourage artists to create and audiences to participate in Australia’s vibrant arts scene for decades to come.
We also saw the opening of Orygen’s National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, which the Foundation supported with a five-year major grant in 2016. This centre is the new home for Orygen’s national and international leadership of innovative clinical care, cutting edge research, and education and training in mental health.
Two major grants awarded in 2018–19 focused on seeking to address disadvantage for vulnerable groups in our society. Specifically, the $2,237,500 grant to World Vision Australia provides support for the expansion of the successful Derby Region Aboriginal Early Childhood Care and Development program in north-west Australia. The $2,500,000 grant to Wintringham Housing Limited will assist in funding a $10m public housing project for elderly homeless people in Shepparton.
The Foundation awarded a major grant of $1,770,000 over five years to the Karrkad Kandji Trust in partnership with Warddeken Land Management Ltd. This major grant will fund the employment of Indigenous women rangers who will systematically record and conserve arguably the largest collection of undocumented and threatened Indigenous rock art galleries in the world.
Over the past four years, the Foundation has conscientiously evaluated it grants in order to improve outcomes for future grants. Aside from using this knowledge to improve our grantmaking practice, we also actively share the knowledge we gain with the wider philanthropic and not-for-profit sector. We were therefore pleased to receive the inaugural #OpenForGood Award by Candid (formerly the Foundation Center), alongside the Rockefeller Foundation and the C&A Foundation in recognition of our efforts in the area of sharing evaluation knowledge.
In May 2019, the Governors and staff of the Foundation were deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Thomas Hurley AO OBE. Dr Hurley was a Governor of the Foundation for 36 years from 1978 to 2014.
As a senior medical practitioner at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, committee member of NHMRC and board member of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (among many other appointments), Dr Hurley brought a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts to the Foundation. These were a great asset in the Foundation’s ability to make informed decisions about major medical research and health grants – many of which are continuing to contribute to knowledge and treatment of diseases.
Dr Hurley possessed great insight, and when asked in 2007 which key issues the Foundation might best address, Dr Hurley said:
“The deleterious effects of substance abuse (notably alcohol), obesity, the profligate use of limited natural resources leading to environment degradation and the breakdown of relationships within families. The parlous situation of indigenous communities and other disadvantaged groups in our community. These and other problems are made worse by a difficulty in clearly identifying their cause and a failure to develop long term evidence-based strategies to address them.”
A decade on this statement still encapsulates The Ian Potter Foundation’s grantmaking strategy and its commitment to a vision of a Vibrant, Healthy, Fair and Sustainable Australia.