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Congratulations to Paris Aristotle AO

Congratulations to Paris Aristotle AO, Executive Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House), who has been named 2017 Victorian Australian of the Year. Paris has been a tireless advocate for refugees and asylum seekers for three decades – ever since Foundation House was first established.

The Myer Foundation provided Foundation House’s first grant, which was used to employ Paris as coordinator. The Reichstein Foundation then provided 2 years’ funding. We record our grant to Foundation House in our 1987-1988 Annual Report, for the project ‘Establishment and Co-ordination of the Foundation’. The funds were intended to ‘establish a demonstration project which provides services and support to survivors of torture along the lines of a community model, rather than a medical model…’ providing the ‘opportunity for relevant government organisations to see the benefits and viability of a community model in operation.’ These aims were very much achieved and Foundation House has grown from its humble beginnings into a highly respected organisation.

In honouring Paris, the Australian Of the Year Awards Council highlighted in his tireless advocacy, enormous contribution to the lives of torture and trauma survivors, and his personal traits of patience and integrity.

Paris has been heavily engaged in policy advocacy at the highest level regarding Australia’s contentious approach to people seeking asylum arriving by boat. Along with former Defence Force Chief Angus Houston and National Security College Director Michael L’Estrange, Paris was a member of the Gillard Government’s Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers that recommended reopening offshore detention centres in 2012.

Paris has been outspoken about the negative mental health impacts suffered by numerous detainees within Australian immigration detention centres. He has been especially concerned about the plight of those who have lost hope of decent resettlement during lengthy and arduous stretches of detention.

Congratulations also to  2017 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year Lois Peeler AM, 2017 Victorian Young Australian of the Year Jason Ball, and 2017 Victorian Local Hero Vicki Jellie.

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Keeping Women Out Of Prison – Why and How?

The Sydney Community Foundation (SCF), with a coalition of Australian non-profit organisations, is leading a campaign to rethink how the criminal justice system in NSW can better address the distinct situation of women offenders.

The Reichstein Foundation is supporting SCF’s visiting British prison reform expert Baroness Jean Corston to conduct a series of meetings in Melbourne on how Victoria might engage with these issues at government, philanthropic and community levels.

SCF this week also released a position statement highlighting the unique issues associated with womens’ offending, and what needs to change: scf-position-statement-keeping-women-out-of-prison

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The Influence Fund: Supporting the next wave of advocacy

Energetic, bold and challenging change makers in Victoria will benefit from a new round of seed grants from the Reichstein Foundation.

Funding over $75,000 will help to kickstart 15 projects tackling powerful issues ranging from racism and poverty to taking action on climate change and discrimination.

Federal court rules payment for disabled people unfair

Real wages for real work: Success!

Around the country there are more than 300 Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) – formerly known as sheltered workshops – employing around 20,000 people with disability.

Some employers chose to calculate the wages of people with disability using a scheme which resulted in a very poor return on work, despite people with disability contributing significantly to meeting Australia’s packaging, manufacturing and cleaning needs.

Now around 8000 Australians with disability will be paid for the wages they should have received. This is due to successful legal claims, policy influence strategies and a class action undertaken by workers, their families and carers, community organisations AED Legal Centre (AED Legal) and People with Disability Australia (PwDA) and law firm Maurice Blackburn. The Reichstein Foundation has been a proud supporter of AED Legal and PwDA in their work to secure a fairer deal for people with disability through our grants in the area of reducing inequality.

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Designed to addict?

Ka-ching! Pokie Nation – the documentary that exposes the addictive features of poker machines – premiered on ABC TV in October 2015. Since then, concerned community groups have begun holding their own screenings.

You can find out more about the film, any screenings near you, or how to host your own screening at either of the websites below.

Ka-ching! Pokie Nation: http://kachingfilm.com/

Pokies Play You: http://www.pokiesplayyou.org.au/community_screenings_of_ka_ching

 

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Philanthropy stands with the community sector on democratic safeguards

The Human Rights Law Centre launched a report on the state of Australia’s civil society and democratic institutions. It was released on Monday 22 March 2016 in Canberra. It makes a number of recommendations about relationships between government and civil society, the independence of the courts and the essential nature of a free press and free speech. Jill Reichstein attended the launch; you can read Jill’s reflections on her March 15, 2016 blog.

We were very pleased to be part of a collaboration with The Myer Foundation and the Graeme Wood Foundation in supporting this project.

Read the report here: HRLC_Report_SafeguardingDemocracy_online_PDF

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The democratization of giving

Thank you to everyone who attended or tuned into our live crowd-funding event with The Funding Network on 29 October. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great opportunity for three impressive organisations – Flemington Kensington Legal Centre, Alliance for Gambling Reform & Human Rights Law Centre – to speak about their important work. Thanks also to the AMP Foundation for hosting the event. What a great night for social change philanthropy!

  • Artist Devon Bunce captured the feeling in the room with a large-scale drawing (detail pictured)
  • Philanthrocrat, blogger and musician Sharon Nathani has published her reflections on the event on OzPhilanthropy.
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Addictive design of poker machines exposed on ABC TV 20 Oct 2015

Reducing inequality is one of the Reichstein Foundation’s three strategic priories. We have invested in a series of major projects designed to reduce inequality in Australia. We’ve also helped to highlight several achievable policy reforms that would tip the balance of wealth inequality back to acceptable standards.

One grassroots campaign we’ve supported has shown how some of the most disadvantaged areas of Victoria are prey to a wealth-stripping industry: increasingly sophisticated electronic gaming machines. However, awareness-raising about just how much the local community loses each year has not been enough to encourage punters to turn away.

A new documentary may just tell us why punters keep coming back to this losing game. Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation set out to investigate the how poker machines evolved from a harmless form of entertainment into a highly addictive product by harnessing scientific methods of creating addiction.

This strengthens the case for urgent regulatory changes to machines and venues.

Ka-Ching! has been supported by the ABC, Screen Australia and philanthropy via the Documentary Australia Foundation.

Don’t miss the premiere screening on ABC TV 20 October 2015 and iView

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Outstanding social change leaders to tour the US

The Reichstein Foundation is very pleased to announce that in 2015, the Jill Reichstein Award for Social Change program, inaugurated in 2014, will be supporting three outstanding social change leaders as participants in the Australian Progress US Study Tour:

  • Tamar Hopkins, Principal Solicitor at the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre;
  • Brendan Sydes, CEO of Environmental Justice Australia; and
  • Tanya Hosch, Joint Campaign Director at Recognise.

Tanya is being supported through a partnership between the Water Dragon Foundation and the Reichstein Foundation.

These outstanding practitioners in tough social policy have been selected from amongst the projects that the Reichstein Foundation has supported in the past five years.

A private donor has joined with us to also enable Jason Glanville, member of the board of Reconciliation Australia, to participate in the tour.

Click here for more information.

Media release: Media release – Timely US visit to combat police racial discrimination 15-05-08

Pictured: NAACP meeting, Australian Progress 2014 Study Trip

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Chronic unfairness: How to fix a major gap in our health system 

The Penington Institute, a not-for-profit organisation tackling unsafe drug use, has released a discussion paper detailing significant problems in the provision of alternative drug therapies for people with opioid addiction.

A significant proportion of people on opiod maintenance therapy, or OMT (for example, methadone), are dropping out of the program due to pharmacy fees. Some people are paying up to $75/week for their medicines, meaning it would be cheaper to maintain an addiction to prescription painkillers.

The Penington Institute offers a positive way forward, proposing a scheme that would bring costs to patients in line with insulin or other common medicines. By subsidising daily fees for OMT, the government would see individual and community health and safety improve, as well as reduce their own costs through a reduction in drug-related crime.

The Penington Institute specialises in turning substance use research into practical action, and is proudly supported by the Reichstein Foundation, as part of our support for work to reduce inequality.

To find out more about this major public health reform:

Read this discussion paper: Chronic-Unfairness-Penington-Institute-paper-on-Opioid-Maintenance-Therapy-April-2015

Check out Fairfax coverage of the issue

Listen to an interview with Penington Institute CEO John Ryan (pictured)

Whitlam Commemorative Oration by Graham Freudenburg, St Kilda Hall, Melbourne

Packed audience for Whitlam Oration

The Whitlam Institute staged its first major event in Melbourne on 4 March, with the Reichstein Foundation and the Social Justice Fund at the Australian Communities Foundation as proud supporters. Graham Freudenberg’s 2015 Whitlam Oration was a brilliantly constructed tribute to Whitlam’s political legacy and contemporary relevance.

Addressing a packed audience at the St Kilda Town Hall on 4 March, Whitlam’s long-time speech writer highlighted Whitlam’s foreign policy vision, a subject he pursued from his first speech in parliament as a backbencher in 1954, through his period as Prime Minister and service to UNESCO. Whitlam’s abolition of the White Australia policy, championing of multiculturalism, recognition of China, Race Discrimination Act and accelerated independence timeline for PNG reflected his vision for Australia’s orientation to and reputation on the world stage. Freudenberg suggested that it is in the area of refugee policy that Whitlam’s contemporary relevance might most obviously be considered. Freudenberg also reflected on Whitlam’s regard for Parliament as the arena for serious political debate, policy refinement and persuasion.

Freudenberg was introduced by former Senator John Faulkner, who outlined the close relationship between Whitlam, the orator and Freudenberg, the writer. He mused on the meaning and value of rhetoric and its essential role in the art of politics.

Freudenberg himself insisted on the need for social democracy to maintain its contemporary relevance, especially in promoting equality, public service and human rights. Whitlam’s vision and idealism was grounded in a realistic appreciation of Labor’s plight after decades in the political wilderness, which ensured that the 1972 election program was pragmatic and attuned to modern Australian values. Whitlam’s expansion of the role of the Commonwealth across so many services such as health, the environment, law reform and education remains compellingly relevant.

A transcript of the Oration is available here.

A video of the Oration can be viewed here.

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Reichstein Foundation appoints Karen Mahlab as a Trustee, farewells Ian Seal

The Reichstein Foundation has appointed Karen Mahlab, the founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia, as a Trustee. Karen brings with her a deep knowledge of the not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors. Ms Mahlab will replace long-term Trustee, Ian Seal, who has retired after more than a decade on the Foundation’s board. Ian has made a pivotal contribution to the Foundation’s work over many years and will be greatly missed.

Media release – Reichstein Foundation appoints Karen Mahlab as a Trustee – 15-02-17

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The Whitlam Institute is coming to Melbourne

The Reichstein Foundation and the Social Justice Fund at the Australian Communities Foundation are joining with The Whitlam Institute to support the 2015 Commemorative Gough Whitlam Oration. The Oration will be held in Melbourne at the St Kilda Town Hall on Wednesday 4 March, 2015.

The Oration will be delivered by Graham Freudenberg, Whitlam’s long-time speechwriter and confidant. Six months after Whitlam’s death, this will be an incisive reflection on Gough’s legacy and ideals and their relevance for Australia into the future.

Commemorative Gough Whitlam Oration

St Kilda Town Hall on Wednesday 4 March, 2015

Doors open at 5.30pm

Drinks will be available for purchase at a cash bar and complimentary light finger food will be provided

The Oration will begin at 6.30pm sharp

Seating is unreserved

Book now at www.whitlam-oration.eventbrite.com.au

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Support for smarter, more effective prison policy

In October, our grant partner, the Smart Justice Coalition convened an in-depth briefing featuring Jason Wong – former Deputy Director and Chief of Staff of the Singapore Prison Service and founder of the Yellow Ribbon Project; and Stephen Mumford from the Victoria Ombudsman’s Office. Singapore’s fall in prisoner numbers and recidivism rate and community support for ex-prisoners has many lessons for Victoria. The forum was timely given the current investigation into the provision of rehabilitation programs for offenders in Victoria and recent announcements of increased support for pre- and post-release prisoner support.

See ABS data: Prisoners in Australia, 2013

ABC Radio National Law Report: Tackling crime

Photo (left to right): Liana Buchanan (CEO, Federation of Community Legal Centres, Vic), Stephen Mumford (Victoria Ombudsman’s Office) and Jason Wong (former Deputy Director and Chief of Staff of the Singapore Prison Service).

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Philanthropy supports new social justice tools and strategies

The Levi Strauss Foundation (USA) has helped a group social justice leaders in the San Francisco Bay area to scale their impact by investing in capacity building and supporting new ways of working. A case study of this initiative has just been published: Pioneers in Justice: Building Networks and Movements for Social Change

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Reichstein Foundation congratulates Ms Winsome McCaughey AO

Former Executive Officer (1986-1988) of the Reichstein Foundation Winsome McCaughey has been appointed an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “For distinguished service to the community, particularly to local government and early childhood development, and through a broad range of charitable organisations” in the Queen’s Birthday 2014 Honours List.

Winsome McCaughey helped to found the community based childcare movement and was Founder and National Director of the Community Child Care Association (1972-1979). She also drafted Australia’s first Children’s Services Policy at the Australian Social Welfare Commission.

Amongst many achievements and contributions, Winsome was Melbourne’s Lord Mayor in 1988-1989 and Founding Executive Director of the Australia Business Arts Foundation (1998-2005). She is currently a trustee of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (2010–) and a Director of Seven Sisters Vineyard Pty Ltd, which set aside 100 acres in the Strathbogie Ranges region to create a conservation zone.

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Publishers and benefactors Tony and Maureen Wheeler receive honours

Congratulations to Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who founded Lonely Planet in 1973, who have been recognised on the Queen’s Birthday 2014 honours list. They have been appointed officers of the Order of Australia (AO) for their “distinguished service to business and commerce as a publisher of travel guides and as benefactors to Australian arts and aid organisations.”

Tony and Maureen Wheeler are founding trustees of Planet Wheeler Foundation (2007-), which funds poverty alleviation projects in the developing world, with a focus on East Africa, Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Burma and Burma related projects, Cambodia and Laos. They have supported the Wheeler Centre for Books Writing and Ideas since 2008. They have been great friends of the Reichstein Foundation, which is very pleased to note the recognition of their work.

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Julia Unwin’s address to the VCOSS Summit: Setting the Agenda

VCOSS has highlighted the key policy announcements and ideas presented by Premier of Victoria Dr Denis Napthine, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Julia Unwin CBE, Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge and others at their 2014 annual summit. Julia Unwin posed the question: How can the community sector contribute in a changing economy with rising inequality?  In the UK there have been some profound shifts in how people interact with the social fabric of their community. Julia said that among these issues there are some that stand out: Having a job is no longer a guarantee of wellbeing or prosperity. Many working families are still in poverty; Poverty is very expensive for government and its alleviation should be a major objective of government; and High rates of poverty and social exclusion are a threat to security and stability.

See more about the VCOSS Summit here: VCOSS VOICE

See VCOSS Summit keynote speakers and more here: ChannelVCOSS

See more on Julia Unwin here: Approaches to tackling poverty and inequality

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Australia’s deficit of poverty & inequality: media release, discussion paper, infographic

Leading UK anti-poverty researcher, author and policy advocate, Julia Unwin, has arrived in Australia and has begun holding key meetings with governments, business leaders and community groups. Her visit is hosted by the Reichstein Foundation and our key partners, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Jobs Australia.

A discussion paper and snapshot of key data on poverty and inequality in Australia have been released and are available here.

Julia Unwin CBE is Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust in the United Kingdom. She is the author of Why fight Poverty? – a challenging and provocative account of the struggle to rid the UK of poverty which poses the question, Is the struggle worth it?

The focus of Julia Unwin’s Australian visit will be on the potential for government, business and community partnerships to overcome the deficit of poverty and inequality facing both the UK and Australia, with lessons from the UK about reshaping civil society to poverty and inequality. A key focus is on how thoughtful, civic philanthropy, can make a profound difference.

PRESS RELEASE: Julia Unwin visit media release

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A new era for the Environment Defender’s Office – now Environmental Justice Australia

The Environment Defender’s Office (Victoria) has re-launched as Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) with an increased focus on legal action and divestment campaigns. CEO Brendan Sydes says EJA is committed to work with local communities and to fix the failures in our legal system. New approaches are needed to preserve hard-won gains in areas such as forestry, national parks and bio-diversity. Greater financial independence and use of crowd funding will underpin EJA into the future. The Reichstein Foundation was one of the EDO’s earliest supporters and is proud to now provide an initial grant of $20,000 to Environmental Justice Australia, conditional on this being matched by donations to EJA from the public.

Every dollar donated to EJA, up to $20,000, will generate an additional dollar contribution.

Jonathan Chapman, CEO of the Australian Communities Foundation announced that even though there were a number of internal processes still to complete he was confident of a similar pledge for the 2015 year, meaning that together with the Reichstein Foundation’s commitment every dollar donated will now be worth $3.

Please join us in supporting a new era for environmental justice in Australia. Make a donation now and your support will be three times as effective!

Read more from Jill Reichstein, Chair of the Reichstein Foundation in her latest blog: An important time for Australia’s environment

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Inaugural winner of the Jill Reichstein Award for Social Change announced

In celebration of Jill Reichstein’s 40 year contribution to the Reichstein Foundation and social change philanthropy, the Foundation has established the Jill Reichstein Award for Social Change. Jonathan La Nauze is the inaugural winner.

Jonathan La Nauze is an emerging leader of the environment movement. He was heavily involved in a series of highly successful grassroots projects at Friends of the Earth (FoE) from 2001-2012, in particular with the Barmah-Millewa Collective. These efforts, conducted in alliance with many Traditional Owner nations, including the Yorta Yorta people, as well as other environment and community groups resulted in the creation of new red gum National Parks and Protected Areas in Victoria and NSW. Many of these areas will be co-managed or handed back to Traditional Owners. The project has been cited as one of Australia’s Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts.

Jonathan recently took up the role of Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), joining a group of senior managers who are leading the organisation-wide adoption of new community organising techniques to protect the environment. His agenda for the US Study Trip is to apply lessons from American social change campaigns to the local context, hold strategic side meetings with organisations relevant to his ACF work, to embrace the opportunity to build lifelong relationships with peers, and to lay the groundwork for future exchanges and connections.

Press release: Jill Reichstein Award for Social Change – PRESS RELEASE 30 April 2014

is there a recipe for social change

 

April 2014: What makes social change happen? What are the combination of forces that result in change? And what, if anything, can we do once we have identified them? Read Julia Unwin’s thought-provoking speech, delivered on 3 April 2014 at York St John University, UK: Is there a recipe for social change? The role of events, emotions and evidence in driving lasting social change.

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Julia Unwin, the distinguished CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, will visit Australia in May 2014 as a guest of the Reichstein Foundation and our partners.

JRF is a world leader in social change philanthropy, with a capital base in excess of £260 million and a current focus on tackling poverty; housing affordability and ageing with dignity. She also brings a unique perspective on housing affordability, as the associated Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust has 2500 units under management.

First two appearances announced! See here for more information.

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Celebrating 40 years

In 2013 the Reichstein Foundation celebrates 40 years of working for social change in our community. On 20 February 2014 the Governor of Victoria, The Honourable Alexander Chernov, and his wife Mrs Elizabeth Chernov hosted a wonderful celebration which was attended by current and past social change agents who have received grants, fellow funders, past and present staff, friends and colleagues. Peter Seidel, senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and leading advocate in the racial profiling case gave an address. Read the welcome speech by His Excellency Alexander Chernov, and Peter Seidel’s address here.

 

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November 2013: Executive Officer of the Reichstein Foundation, Dr John Spierings, delivered the 2013 Stegley Lecture, an annual lecture held by the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy at Swinburne University. His lecture was entitled Philanthropy for social change in a conservative era – “After the Deluge.” Read the lecture here or watch the video.