Philanthropy represents a spirit of selflessness, compassion, and a desire to make a positive impact. Cathy Freeman fittingly described philanthropy and giving as “pure heart speak” recently at the Celebration of Giving Lunch.
Held at the Goods Shed last Thursday 26th October, the lunch was an opportunity for the Ballarat community to understand the benefit of philanthropy. It was a privilege to hear about from Cathy as she chatted to Steve Moneghetti about her childhood, her athletics career and life after retiring from the sport.
Cathy's crowning achievement came during the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she competed in the 400 meters sprint, winning the gold medal and etching her name in the Olympic history books. The entire nation held its breath as she lit the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony, Cathy regaled the audience as she retold the event from her own recollections.
While her athletic accomplishments are well-documented, Cathy Freeman's philanthropic efforts also deserve recognition. Since retiring from professional athletics, Cathy has dedicated herself to making a positive impact on society, especially among Australia's Indigenous communities.
Other speakers at the Celebration of Giving Lunch included founder of JB Were Philanthropic Services John McLeod and the chief executive officer of the Ross Trust, Sarah Hardy. Speaking on a panel hosted by Bruce Roberts, they discussed the benefit of giving. Sarah spoke about finding an alignment of your own values and what is important in your community, as a starting point to determine which charity or organisation you would like to give to. Both Sarah and John spoke about how giving can improve one’s wellbeing including, surprisingly, health benefits such as lowering of blood pressure.
John McLeod, Sarah Hardy, Cathy Freeman and Bruce Roberts.
Chair of the Ballarat Foundation Board, Wayne Weaire, used the event to launch the Ballarat Foundation’s new five-year strategy which centres on increasing financial distributions to the community to more than $1 million annually by 2028. In 2022, the Foundation distributed almost $400,000 in grants and financial assistance to charitable organisations and projects in the Ballarat region.
The strategy will encourage long-term investment from the Ballarat community in response to issues identified in the Ballarat Foundation’s Vital Signs report, which was released in November 2022 and is an evolving free online resource with more than 100 indicators of social wellbeing in Ballarat.
The Vital Signs resource has found the Ballarat community suffers worse rates of mental health and family violence than state and national averages. Together with ongoing issues such as food and housing insecurity, the Ballarat Foundation will focus on enabling giving and collaboration to respond to these issues.
The Foundation also announced it would soon begin work on the redevelopment of its building at 7 Lydiard Street South to create the Ballarat Community Hub and will expand its philanthropic footprint to include responses to environmental, education and cultural needs within the region.