It has been a wonderful journey watching the Melbourne Women’s Fund grow from a germ of an idea into an active giving circle with nearly 50 members – and still growing! There was a natural resonance for the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation to offer the embryonic Melbourne Women’s Fund a legal home, freeing the founders to focus on building the fund and reflect upon how they would make a difference for women and their children in Melbourne.
The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation’s support of giving circles builds on a long tradition of collective philanthropy within the Foundation, from our own creation in 1923 to coordinating public fundraising for hospitals who were supporting the unprecedented demands for services for returned service men injured in World War I, through to the fundraising and granting work of the Lady Mayoress Committee since 1959, our Women in Philanthropy initiative, and now giving circles such as Impact 100 and importantly the Melbourne Women’s Fund. The opportunity for fortunate women to help women facing challenges through the Melbourne Women’s is powerful.
Melbourne Women’s Fund is now entering an exciting grants discovery and research phase, which will lead to an invitation to a number of organisation to submit proposals for funding. The Fund wants to support cutting edge projects that move tough issues forward.
This morning I attended a function run by a youth organisation that showed a DVD of the appallingly sexist and violent media, music video and online material that young women are confronted with every day. The need for young women to find aspirational role models is critical. More than 500,000 women over 65 years of age are living in long term poverty in Australia, a significant number in Melbourne. Issues such as illness, family breakdown, casual employment, caring responsibilities, low or no superannuation, and others have all led to a life where even a cup of coffee is a luxury. Homelessness is another women’s issue. Sometimes women are invisible as they “couch surf” between friends and relatives houses and short term emergency accommodation, sometimes escaping family violence, often with children in tow. There are so many important issues that the Melbourne Women’s Fund will be able to tackle.
The Foundation will be helping the Fund understand the issues and research community organisations. We will be handling the due diligence and back office support required by a philanthropic fund. I look forward to being part of a Fund that treads new ground in Melbourne philanthropy.