How can philanthropy tackle poverty and inequality?

Reducing inequality is one of the Reichstein Foundation’s three strategic priories. We have recently invested in a series of major projects designed to reduce inequality in Australia. We highlight here some of the approaches we believe will be effective.

Tracking inequality and building the case for change

The Reichstein Foundation, along with the BB & A Miller Fund, Hartline Fund, and Social Justice Fund (sub-funds of Australian Communities Foundation), is supporting ACOSS to maximise the impact of their crucial research into inequality. We are also supporting work to find out how Australians perceive inequality, again through a funding collaboration with the Australian Communities Foundation.

In June 2015, ACOSS released:

This video explains how unbalanced Australian society has become: Inequality in Australia: A nation divided



Ten ways to tackle inequality

Leading Australian researchers, key decision-makers in Government and expert community sector representatives have come together to consider what to do about growing inequality.

Non-profit company Australia21, with think tank The Australia Institute and the Australian National University convened a roundtable in early 2014, which resulted in the publication of a major report on tackling inequality: ‘Advance Australia Fair? What to do about growing inequality in Australia’.

The report has identified ten key actions and policy levers that are available to government, which would be effective in reducing inequality.  The Reichstein Foundation proudly supported Australia21 to produce the report.

Australia21 also created three very short videos about addressing inequality in Australia, based on the report.

Leading anti-poverty advocate visits Australia

Julia Unwin, the distinguished CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) visited Australia in May 2014 as a guest of the Reichstein Foundation and our partners the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Jobs Australia. Julia Unwin met with government, business and community to provoke a renewed focus on addressing the growing gap between the wealthy and the disadvantaged.

Julia Unwin’s inspiring discussion paper and an infographic on poverty in Australia were released as part of a renewed focus on the extent of poverty and widening inequality and to share insights about how to tackle these issues:

See Julia Unwin’s keynote address at the 2014 VCOSS Summit, where she spoke about roles for the community sector, government and philanthropy in a changing economy marked by rising inequality:

JRF is a world leader in social change philanthropy, with a capital base in excess of close to £300 million and priorities on tackling poverty; developing stronger communities and ageing with dignity. Julia Unwin also brings a unique perspective on housing affordability, with the associated Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust having 2500 units under management.

We believe:

  • Australia needs deep thinking about more effective responses to poverty and inequality. We need to engender greater trust in government, political institutions and civil society at a time of widespread public cynicism and mistrust.
  • The not for profit sector must take the lead in fostering a national debate about the relationship between government, citizens, markets and civil society – resulting in a stronger sector articulating its values and vision for civil society with a secure seat at the table with government, business and unions
  • A more engaged philanthropic sector can contribute positively to public debate, monitor large scale shifts in government priorities, and strengthen the skills and capabilities of civil society and the not for profit sector in Australia.

See Julia Unwin as she appeared on ABC News 24, Friday 30 May 2014, where she was asked to share lessons from the UK:

Follow Julia Unwin and the JRF on Twitter @juliaunwin @jrf­_uk and participate in ongoing discussions using the hashtag #aupoverty