Some of you will know I chair an organisation called Australia21. We’re an independent, not for profit think tank promoting fair, sustainable and inclusive public policy through evidence-based research.
We tackle real-world social issues and environmental problems that defy simple solutions (so-called “wicked problems") and we think there are a lot of issues right now that need some evidence-based discussion, especially in this era of fake news and spin.
That is why I am posting this end-of-financial year request for your help.
Even though we run on a very tight budget, we’re able to achieve a great deal, thanks to our reputation as a respected non-partisan think tank, the expertise of our high-level hands-on Board and the pro bono contributions of the diverse networks we’re able to draw on. (All our Board members are listed on our website: www.australia21.org.au/evidence-and-expertise/our-people/our-team)
Last financial year we mobilised around 1300 hours of pro bono work including contributions from 45 external experts from around the country. This year we’ll exceed that with a long list of work on complex issues. For example, over the last 12 months we’ve:
- finalised our third report on illicit drugs that Jeff Kennett and Bob Carr launched for us in March. This was an important step forward, because the senior law enforcement officers who put their names to it came to the conclusion that law reform is essential to saving lives and minimising harm from drugs. The media follow up and discussion since has helped to move the debate about illicit drug policy along;
- launched a volume of essays on trauma-related stress in Australia drawing out the diverse groups of people affected and the huge cost to individuals and Australian society PTSD poses;
- followed up with a large roundtable meeting of first responders (police, ambulance, fire and emergency services, and experts on the issue from Defence) to talk about better ways to respond to PTSD in our front line emergency responders – we’re writing up the report now;
- run a multidisciplinary roundtable on the potential for algal farming to contribute to food and fuel security – we had scientists, business people, government policy makers, and a politician in the same room talking about what’s possible and how we might make it happen. The report is due for launch by Senator Janet Rice in August;
- run a forum on mindfulness, empathy and compassion and launched the Mindful Futures Network, a venture that will provide a national space to map and develop the application of mindfulness, empathy and compassion at a systems level, particularly to improve the health and proficiency of Australia’s public and private organisations. UK MP Chris Ruane, who pioneered cross-party and public service mindfulness training in Britain helped launch the Network at our webinar in May;
- run a Young Australia21 group, feeding their ideas into our projects;
- through our Young Australia21 group and in collaboration with the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation finalised and are about to launch a conversation pack aimed at starting discussions with young people about drugs and drug policy;
- started work on a project looking at young people and the future of work – Making our Future Work – where we’ll seek to add to the research base by talking directly to young people about how they feel about the future and work, to provide insight for policy makers across a range of policy areas;
- supported an Adelaide primary school to pilot a drug awareness education program inspired by our 2014 Smarter about Drugs forum for young people; and
- started discussions for a project called ‘Imagining Equality’ canvassing possible solutions to growing inequality in Australia, following from our 2014 inequality roundtable and report.
We need funding to support and promote these projects, and to run our very effective small office.
- We have the equivalent of one half time staff member managing our office and operations, raising funds, supporting projects and managing volunteers. Salary and organisation overheads cost us around $70,000 a year.
- And we’ve identified we need to invest in expert communications help so our work is spread far and wide in the public arena. Our collaboration with a communications expert over the last six months has really paid off – the launch of our illicit drug report is a great example with solid media coverage and comment lasting well beyond the day of the launch helping to move public debate along in this area.
- For each project that communications expertise costs us around $13,000.
We don’t receive any large government or corporate funding. We rely on project specific grants, and support from our donors. We need help to continue doing this work and this year we’re running an unusual end of financial year donations drive. A group of very generous supporters has pledged to multiply donations made to Australia21 in the next two weeks.
- The first $21,000 we raise from 16-30 June will be multiplied 5 times thanks to our generous matching donors.
- Every $1 donated will unlock $5. And if we reach our goal of $21,000 in the next two weeks we’ll release $105,000 for Australia21 to continue its work.
- The drive is running for the last fortnight of June (16-30 June) and all donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.
There are a few ways you can help us.
- We would very much appreciate any donation you could make, however big or small. We’d love to reach our $21,000 goal so we unlock the maximum of $105,000. Every contribution will make a difference. You can donate by going to our website www.australia21.org.au and clicking on the yellow donate button. Or you can go directly to our online donation site at www.givenow.com.au/australia21, donate directly to our bank account (bsb: 313 140, Account No: 2319 3882) or send a cheque to Australia21 Limited, PO Box 3244, Weston ACT 2611. I can send you these details.
- We don’t have a marketing budget for this drive so we’re relying on networks and word of mouth. I would be grateful if you would pass this message and the link to our short video https://youtu.be/8nRnHpS3w0g on to your own networks and help us reach out to a broader community.
- Do you know any philanthropists that might be interested in our work? Would you be willing to talk to them and put us in contact?
We’d appreciate any help you can give us. Thanks!
· Australia21 Board members work directly on projects: running roundtables and forums; forming discussion networks and project teams; talking to politicians, researchers, policy experts and analysts, business leaders, young people, and people experiencing first-hand the issues we explore; writing reports; organising logistics; working with the media.
· Running a roundtable costs about $61,000, and mobilises around $100,000 of pro bono work.
· $127,000 would allow us to run the whole Making our Future Work project including four workshops with young people, a roundtable meeting, and a report. We’d mobilise about $83,000 of pro bono work.