Guest post by Carolyn Munckton
Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending the AMP Foundation’s launch of an outstanding new research report called The Best of Every Woman: An Overview of Approaches for Philanthropic Investment in Aboriginal Women and Girls.
It’s a long title and a reasonably long read (hence it’s taken me a while to write this blog piece), but it is worth it for current and potential funders of Indigenous programs and organisations.
The research report was put together for the AMP Foundation by leading philanthropy research consultancy Effective Philanthropy.
The facts and statistics on the challenges and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people in Australia are stark and confronting. The report includes a lot of this illuminating detail that shows how Aboriginal people are the most socio-economically disadvantaged group in Australia. “Many families and communities are caught in a cycle of poverty, with poor health, high levels of single parenthood, low education, high rates of unemployment, low incomes, poor access to essential services and high levels of involvement in the justice system.” 1
The Best of Every Woman report advocates investing in programs to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who can then act as catalysts for social change in their local communities.
This is powerful stuff and also pretty obvious. Maybe I’m biased because until recently I was a board member of the Australian Women Donors Network and was involved in getting the network established. For the past four years, I’ve been helping to spread the word about the need for philanthropic investment in women and girls to overcome disadvantage and to fulfill the potential of women and girls.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play a critical role in leading improvements in the health and wellbeing of their families and communities.
The report presents a number of case studies that demonstrate this.
The AMP Foundation should be congratulated for commissioning this report to determine how social investment might best support Aboriginal woman and girls.
As well as discussing the challenges that Aboriginal women and girls can face the report importantly identifies a framework for philanthropists and policy-makers to identify programs that can support the next generation of Aboriginal women and girls to reach their education, career and life aspirations.
Key findings of the report include:
- A non-linear education pathway is common amongst Aboriginal women.
- The availability of culturally appropriate childcare has an important role to play in an Aboriginal woman’s decision to defer taking up further study or work.
- Facilitating access to information and networks can have a significant effect.
- Supporting and strengthening cultural identity is important.
- Leadership support and growth capital could drive future successes.
There is plenty of detail in the report that will help funders better understand the current barriers for Aboriginal women and girls and the potential they have to achieve and create positive life outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities.
The report identifies the types of programs that can support Aboriginal women and girls to overcome the barriers and importantly, the key success factors that can be used when designing, funding and/or delivering those programs.
The report’s Foreword has been written by Professor Kerry Arabena, Director of the School for Indigenous Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, who also spoke at the Melbourne launch that I attended. Professor Arabena said that young Aboriginal people are positive about the future and have moved away from seeing themselves as disadvantaged and are ready to take advantage of Australia’s profound opportunities. She was extremely positive about the potential for change and she urged the audience to take the opportunity to affect and support this change.
I think the next generation of philanthropists and philanthropic funders will accept this challenge and tools like The Best of Every Woman report will guide and support the change.
Effective Philanthropy consultants Regina Hill and Louise Doyle have done a great job in pulling all of this research together and consulted with a wide range of organisations and people involved with delivering programs and services to Aboriginal people right across Australia.
There are a number of philanthropic trusts and foundations that currently fund Indigenous programs and many of these were also consulted.
This report will be very useful for current funders and for those who want to get involved and help make a difference. It is a daunting area of philanthropy and one were mistakes can easily be made. This report can be used to inform future program design, funding and delivery so that support for Aboriginal women and girls can effectively contribute to social change and improvements for many Aboriginal people – men, women, boys and girls.
 The Best of Every Woman, page 23
About Carolyn Munckton
Carolyn was an inaugural board member of the Australian Women Donors Network (2009-12) and recently became a director of the Inner North Community Foundation because she loves the idea of local people supporting their local communities. She has so far waded through two units in the Masters of Social Investment and Philanthropy at Swinburne University.
You can find her semi-regular thoughts and readings on philanthropy and fundraising in Twitter handle @carolynmunckton.