15 November 2018 was an important day in the history of this country. On that day the ABS announced the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. 61.6% of respondents said YES to the question, ‘Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?.’
Today, the voice of the Australian people became law. The parliament did the right thing and has enacted an historic change.
The result is a really significant milestone that goes a long way towards overturning many historic and entrenched wrongs faced by LGBTIQ communities across Australia. It’s an important statement of the love and acceptance in the hearts of many Australians.
There will be much focus on the campaign of recent months and weeks but this is a story of change that has been waged over decades by many courageous people from all walks of life, cultures and regions of this country. It’s a story that embraces activists, strategists, artists, communities, lawyers, funders and many more.
It’s an outcome that is testament to the power of advocacy and storytelling. It’s about how communities can realise their power and build a movement of social change into something utterly compelling and inevitable.
It is also a story of how philanthropy can be an ally for and with communities in the frontline of change. Of how when we act collectively, we can help people make a difference.
Looking back over the decades of Reichstein Foundation funding, it’s apparent how consistently focused and supportive the Foundation has been of LGBTIQ communities fighting for their rights. Through battles over safe schools; support for Catholic teachers and schools to be responsive to same sex attracted students; to fighting discrimination faced by same sex attracted people with disability or same sex attracted people in rural Victoria …. Reichstein has been there. Providing support for GALFA and The Channel are enduring legacies.
The Reichstein Foundation put considerable resources into the YES campaign in the year that ultimately led to the postal survey. And once the survey was announced we partnered with the Australian Communities Foundation and the Limb Family Foundation to invite a collective response from foundations and private donors to support to the Marriage Equality campaign. Ultimately our three foundations as well as ACF sub-funds, Michael and Mim Bartlett; Michael Henry; Greig Gailey and Geraldine Lazarus; Ricci Swart; Annamila Foundation and a number of private foundations and private donors have contributed substantially to the YES campaign. This effort took place alongside the work of major philanthropies including the Snow Foundation, Perpetual, Equity Trustees, The Myer Foundation and MFCo, Ian Darling and others in responding to an urgent call for support from the Marriage Equality Campaign. Tom Snow from YES central, wrote recently that, ‘Quite simply, this result would not have happened without philanthropy. It has been critical.’
Reichstein’s work over the past 18 months has built on the long term leadership and commitment of our executive officers and trustees over many years. The fight for human rights and LGBTIQ rights in particular is built into the Foundation’s DNA and many people have contributed to that.
The battle is not won yet; there are many things to do still – and the survey results in western Sydney and parts of Melbourne show there are bridges that need to be built and more engagement to be done. But for now, let’s celebrate a significant step forward.
John Spierings, Executive Officer, Reichstein Foundation