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For more than 145 years, Equity Trustees has helped Australian philanthropists to realise their giving ambitions. 

Over the years, we at Equity Trustees have learnt that giving away money effectively is quite a challenge.  

And when measuring social impact, activity alone is not enough.  

So in 2018, we embarked on a journey towards impact and responsible stewardship.  We made a commitment to learn, grow and deepen our connection with clients and our community

We started with the development of our Blueprint for Deepening Community Impact.  This blueprint, developed in collaboration with Think Impact, provides us with a framework for mapping where and how we need to make changes, and how we measure whether we have funded in an effective way. 

The blueprint doesn’t cover everything – and based on the trusts we steward and the instructions our families and testators have left for us, we have focused our efforts to create five key focus areas:

Young people have opportunities for great futures (Children and Young People)
People age well and die well (Ageing and Aged Care)
Equitable health outcomes for all Australians are achieved (Medical Research & Health)
The natural environment thrives sustainably (Animals and Environment)
The for-purpose sector is strong and vigorous (Sector Capacity Building Fund)

Earlier this year, we highlighted the Sector Capacity pillar.  In this edition of Horizon, we are sharing the strategies beyond Children & Young People, the impact we have been able to fund to date and the exciting projects that have been supported.  This pillar is also the highlight of the 2021 Annual Giving Review, which will be available here from 14 December 2021.

We recognise that healthy development in the early years of childhood provides a strong foundation for the rest of life – and this is important not only for the individual but also for society. Equity Trustees is committed to supporting initiatives that provide opportunities for our most disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable young children to reach their full potential.

At Equity Trustees we are focused on areas of high needs by supporting approaches with a high potential for impact, and that are in keeping with the intentions of the founders of the trusts & foundations supporting these programs.

The Children & Young People program is currently comprised of 22 charitable trusts, valued at over $91m in funds under management.  In FY21, $2.1m was distributed via out Children and Young People program via 27 grants. The majority of our funding is based in Victoria.

We acknowledge that we have finite resources and we can’t do it all – so we have been specific in the impact we seek to enable.  The Children & Young People program has three main areas of focus:

A Place for Education: focusing on the benefits of education and learning in a variety of ways, with a particular focus on the Mornington Peninsula and the Goulburn Valley region, Supported by: R.M. Ansett Trust; Arthur Gordon Oldham Charitable Trust; The McEwen Foundation and The Edith M. & William M. Wilson Charity Trust.
A Place to Call Home: supporting young people, their families and carers transition successfully into independent living; to reduce the numbers of children entering Out of Home Care and to improve outcomes for children in the Out of Home Care system.* Supported by: The Mars-Stride Trust; David Taylor Galt Trust; The Edith Kemp Memorial Trust Fund; Sir John Minogue Bequest; The E.H.M. Ratcliff Trust and The William Henry Pawsey Trust.
A Place in the Community: we believe that children with disability have the right to a childhood that provides them with every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. Children with disability face different and more challenges to their peers without disability.  We have focused our funding on enabling the service system, communities and family to support and empower children with disability. Supported by: The John Saville Eastwood Trust; The Lynne Quayle Charitable Trust Fund; and The Percy & Ruby Haddy Foundation.

Where do we want to get to?


A more responsive and connected support system [EDUCATION]
Fewer children requiring child protection services [HOME]
All children have equitable choice and opportunity [COMMUNITY]

A Place for Education, we invest in organisations that can provide a more connected and responsive education system. We have a stronger focus on placed-based approaches, understanding that local communities (either geographical or cohort based) know the solutions they need and that bringing together resources creates opportunity. These grants have included: 

  • A $3,000,000 grant over 10 years to the Colman Education Foundation for Our Place: a place-based approach that supports the education, health and development in Frankston North, Victoria
  • $360,000 over six years to the Mornington Peninsula Foundation for No Limits, an oral language program focused on children in their last year of preschool and first year of school – providing speech pathology which enables students to be ready to learn at school
  • Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project – a community led initiative improving the wellbeing and educational outcomes for young people in Shepparton, Victoria. The funding has been since inception of the organisation seven years ago and was recently renewed for a further three years.
    A Place to Call Home, we invest in practices that support strong and healthy families, support prevention strategies for vulnerable families and a better connected and effective system for children, families and carers:
  • Since 2017 we have partnered with The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW) and funded the facilitation the OoHC (Out of Home Care) Philanthropic Funders Network. This grant supports a collaborative group of philanthropic funders who have a shared interest in improving outcomes for children and young people at risk of entering out of home care, or who are experiencing out of home care. Read more here.
  •  In partnership with funders from the OoHC Funders Network, funding Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) for a pilot project ‘Bringing Up Aboriginal Babies at Home’ which seeks to support Aboriginal women in Victoria to better meet their babies’ and infants’ needs and reduce the likelihood of children entering the state’s child protection and care system.  Read more here.
  • A 3-year grant to MacKillop Family Services valued at $135,000 to support their Therapeutic Life Story Work.  This is an innovative and creative program that enables children and young people in child protection and out of home care who have been affected by early life trauma, to safely explore and make meaning of their past and present.

A Place in the Community, we support initiatives that ensure systems are more responsive and inclusive of all children and young people:

A 3-year grant of $150,000 to Association for Children with a Disability for the establishment of their Community Champions Program, a volunteer program that links parents and carers with a disability, with others on a similar journey. 
A $60,000 grant to Children and Young People with a Disability (CYDA) for the National Youth Disability Summit providing an opportunity for young people with disability across Australia to come together as a community. 
$100,000 to a new organisation Childhood Dementia Initiative to support the Care and Quality of Life project which seeks to drive systemic change across the health system to ensure the needs of families are understood and they can access effective, consistent and timely support when they need it most.  Read more here

*  What is out-of-home care? 

Out-of-home care refers to alternative accommodation for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents. In most cases, children in out-of-home care are also on a care and protection order.  There are several different living arrangements that are called out-of-home care:

Foster care - when a child is placed in the home of a carer who is receiving a payment for caring for the child.
Relative or kinship care - when a child is placed in accommodation with a family member or a person who already knows the child.
Family group homes - accommodation for a child in a residential building, which is usually run like a family home. These homes have a limited number of children and they are cared for around the clock by resident carers.
Residential care - offers children accommodation in a residential building, with paid staff. This includes facilities where there are rostered staff and where staff are offsite. 
Independent living - includes other accommodation options, like private boarding. 

Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, CEO of OzChild and Equity Trustees Jodi Kennedy, General Manager Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy, discuss the state of out-of-home-care for children in Victoria.  See the video here.

If you are committed to supporting causes that support Children & Young People and would like to learn more about this funding area, or you wish to support the objectives of this focus area, please speak with your Relationship Manager.