The Influence Fund:

Supporting the next wave of advocacy

In 2016 The Influence Fund – a special program of the Reichstein Foundation – provided seed grants to support energetic, bold and challenging change makers in Victoria. Over $65,000 helped to kickstart 13 projects tackling powerful issues ranging from racism and poverty to taking action on climate change and discrimination. We have ongoing partnerships with several of these organisations.

Centre for Multicultural Youth – Marhaba Loss of family networks and being ostracised is a prospect some LGBTIQ people from Muslim backgrounds face. Fear of stigma and shame can prevent people from seeking the support they need, yet community and peer support is vital for well-being. Marhaba is a support group for LGBTIQ people of Muslim backgrounds. In its third year of operation, and in response to solid demand for group support, Marhaba is seeking to establish a web presence and organisational structure. Pictured: Iman Nur Warsame and Sophie Ismail are supporting young LGBTIQ Muslims. (Photo: The Feed SBS)

tilde: Melbourne Trans & Gender Diverse Film Festival – Film-making workshops for trans and gender diverse people and their allies The physical and mental health of trans and gender diverse people is generally lower than it is for other groups in the LGBTI community. Melbourne’s first and only international trans and gender diverse film festival, tilde, is using film as a key vehicle to combat discrimination, reduce isolation and promote wellbeing. A DIY film-making workshop is the next step towards supporting the creation of local stories by trans and gender diverse people and their friends, families and allies, in order to challenge perceptions and expand understanding.

Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) – Facilitating and evaluating a community solar mini-grid project in rural Victoria Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is a community group committed to reducing overall energy consumption and dramatically increasing their town’s use of renewable electricity. TRY aims to power the town of Yackandandah with 100 per cent renewable electricity by the year 2022. The Influence Fund will support TRY to actively engage private residents and businesses to assist them to reduce power use and switch to solar power. This includes investigating community attitudes to mini-grids and encouraging the high levels of community cooperation that will be needed to reach TRY’s inspiring goal.

Australian Farmers for Climate Action – Set up and public launch  Increasingly, farmers are facing the everyday impacts of climate change on lands and livelihoods. Yet to date, farmers have been under-represented in the climate change debate. Now a group of more than 40 farmers have made the decision to set up a public-facing group. Australian Farmers for Climate Action aims to be the voice for farmers in the climate change debate and to support farmers to galvanise their peers, their communities, their industry, all levels of government and the general public to act on climate change.

Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network – Support of the Victorian Seed State Coordinators In Australia, climate change is disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – rising sea levels in the Torres Strait, the destruction of sacred country, and diminishing food and water accessibility. Seed – Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led climate network – is building a movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for climate justice with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). With support from The Influence Fund, Seed will provide training and mentoring to Seed’s Victorian State Coordinators, accelerating their work to grow Seed’s grassroots base.

Indigenous Women In Business Indigenous women are one of the most marginalized groups in the world with limited access to services and support. Yet it is common for Indigenous women to have strong and important leadership roles in Indigenous communities and community organisations. Imagine what they could achieve with the right connections, tools and support network. Having personally experienced some of these limitations as Indigenous women, Bec Blurton and Jen Day realized there was a need for a national support network for Indigenous women in Australia. Indigenous Women In Business (IWIB) was founded to fill this gap. IWIB will build a powerful web platform to create access to events, tailored tools, industry specialists and allow Indigenous women to build a profile and connect with other IWIB members.

Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages – Victorian State Aboriginal Language Policy The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages was established in 1994 to address issues of language loss. VACL focuses on connection to Country and place and the reclamation of identity and meaning through creative forms of expression and communication. VACL is seeking to gain recognition for Aboriginal Languages within the relevant policy frameworks of the Victorian Government, leading to greater support for Aboriginal languages and positive impacts for Aboriginal people in terms of culture, identity and health.

Lucksmiths Ltd – The Colony Four young writers – members of Melbourne’s Indigenous, Muslim and Jewish communities, collectively known as Lucksmiths – have teamed up to create a multi-faith, multi-ethnic digital website called The Colony. They see the minority experience as a strong basis for cross-communal solidarity and seek with The Colony to provide a space for discussion of difference and identity in the Australian context. The Influence Fund is supporting this initiative by sending two members of Lucksmiths to an outstanding digital campaigning bootcamp, to see what they come up with next.

RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-Detainees – RISE Multimedia Campaign RISE is a unique nonprofit organisation entirely governed and managed by refugees, asylum seekers and people who have survived Australia’s immigration detention system. RISE seeks to generate positive social change for their membership and broader constituency through advocacy for alternatives to mandatory detention. This project will create a video as a key tool in an online campaign to influence public opinion and seek changes to Australia’s policies towards people seeking asylum arriving by boat. RISE puts the experience of asylum seekers into the centre of the public debate, and speaks with a voice that is not often heard. Longer term plans by RISE include establishing a network of Cities of Sanctuary.

Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights – Understanding the Cycle of Poverty experienced by Muslim women The Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights (AMWCHR) is an organisation of Muslim women working to advance the rights and status of Muslim women in Australia. Through its case work program, AMWCHR works with Muslim women in several suburban areas of Melbourne who face poverty and homelessness. By assisting women to tell their stories, AMWCHR will create a powerful account of the multiple issues they face. This will be used to influence the emergency relief system and broader social service sector, and encourage more powerful responses to women’s dis-empowerment, isolation, poverty, marginalization and victimization.

Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing – Money For Jam (micro-enterprise support for women over 50 at risk of poverty) The Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA) – the ‘do tank’ of Per Capita’s think tank – is about to pilot Money For Jam, a model assisting women 50+ at risk of poverty with achieving greater financial security, using the vehicle of micro-enterprise. Unlike other small business support programs assuming people self-identify with entrepreneurship at the start, Money For Jam will empower women who think they can’t be small business owners towards a changed attitude of “I can”, using confidence building techniques, unpacking the language of entrepreneurship and targeted support. With the support from the Influence Fund, women will document their story and empowerment journey using a digital story telling process. Their story will be used to put the spotlight on the need for customised financial support for women as they age, and to influence decision makers and policy makers to embark on systems change to provide older women with greater financial independence and security.

Urban Seed – Housing Affordability through Community Organising Housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable for low to middle income Melburnians. Cassidy’s Place – an action group of people with lived experience of homelessness or housing stress supported by volunteers from Urban Seed in Melbourne’s CBD – is seeking new ways to address this problem.  The Influence Fund is supporting the group to build their capacity for effective activism around affordable housing by investing in campaigning and community organising training for key members of the action group.

North East Primary Care Partnership (NEPCP) – Challenging business as usual in the gambling industry NEPCP aims to reduce the harmful effects of dangerous gambling products and works to empower those impacted by gambling to be vocal advocates for change. Through capacity building and leadership activities NEPCP will support local community groups within Victoria to present their case for change to gambling industry and government decision-makers.