By Nicole Richards
This year’s Impact Fund showcase, held on 24 October, was bigger and bolder than ever with more than 170 guests filling The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne’s CBD.
Australian Communities Foundation CEO, Maree Sidey, kicked off the night’s proceedings, recognising that the Impact Fund and its supporters are a celebration of “hope and the power of collective agency”.
“Equity and justice are aspirations that demand bold commitments,” Sidey said before outlining the key criteria (national significance; timeliness; ability to influence public policy and potential to mobilise people to action) against which the night’s four pitching projects had been assessed.
First on stage was Charmaine Crowe from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) with the Raise the Rate campaign which seeks to tackle inequality by securing an increase to the Newstart allowance which has not increased in 25 years.
“Increasing Newstart would address one of Australia’s biggest fairness failures,” Crowe said, noting that economic modelling indicates an increase would inject $4 billion into the nation’s economy. (Full project details here).
Funder advocate, Paul Madden from the Wyatt Trust, urged other philanthropists to back the campaign. “With Newstart being $175 per week less than the aged pension, it is putting people into grinding poverty,” Madden said.
Next up, Andrew Cox from the Invasive Species Council outlined the Protecting Australian Species Against Extinction project which is working to preserve Australian flora and fauna.
With invasive species being the major cause of extinction in Australia, “the current system is failing to reduce the threats to nature,” Cox said. “The seed funding for this project will kickstart the key threatening processes.” (Full project details here).
Bruce McGregor from the Melliodora Fund echoed Cox’s appeal for action and vouched for the Council’s effectiveness as a “national organisation that is very strategic and very influential.”
Presenting the Voice, Treaty, Truth: Progressing the Uluru Statement project, Gemma McKinnon from the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW recounted her moving personal experience in dialogue with Indigenous communities across Australia.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia feel voiceless,” McKinnon said.
“We are determined to continue to pursue the objectives of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and we want to make the Voice to Parliament a reality.” (Full project details here).
Gemma Salteri from CAGES Foundation has supported the Voice, Treaty, Truth project for a year. “The Indigenous Elders, past present and future have the answers to healing the trauma of colonialism,” Salteri said. “We need structural reform in this country.”
The final project for the evening was the Democracy for Sale documentary and social impact campaign, presented by director Craig Reucassel and Shark Island Institute’s Malinda Wink.
Reucassel, whose experience includes ABC series War on Waste and The Chaser, explained that the documentary seeks to expose the influence of corruption in Australian politics today. “We’re trying to get this to a broader audience rather than preaching to the converted” he said. “Using humour is especially for a younger audience,” he said.
Malinda Wink likened the potential impact of the documentary to that of the highly successful That Sugar Film, particularly in its ability to engage an audience that is currently very disengaged.
“The approach is really importantly non-partisan,” Wink added. “The issue is so much bigger than one party.” (Full project details here).
Funder advocate John Spierings from Reichstein Foundation implored funders to support the project.
“I don’t want Australia to go down the American route, filled with dark money. I want an open and transparent democracy where every voice counts,” Spierings said.
Wrapping up the night, Australian Communities Foundation’s Georgia Mathews reiterated that the Impact Fund is for everyone.
“Everybody can co-fund with the Impact Fund,” she said. “We’re inviting you to get on board!”
Download your copy of the 2019 Impact Fund Prospectus