We have recently seen a shift in the way the Foundation operates focusing on a theme in girls’ education in which we can make some impact. Check out the latest stories making news.
FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2020.
On behalf of the Council of the Invergowrie Foundation I am very pleased to provide this Chair’s report for 2020.
At the time of writing this report Victoria is still in a stage 4 lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If we rewind to the same time last year no-one in Victoria (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) would have had any idea what this sentence meant let alone imagined how we would be living our lives at this time.
There is no doubt that what we are experiencing is unprecedented. COVID-19 has invaded our lives: it has wreaked havoc on the health and lives of many people, it has impacted the economy, way we live, the way we work, the way we teach and learn, it has even permeated our daily language – with words such as ‘pandemic’, ‘flattening the curve’, ‘social (or physical) distancing’, ‘lockdown’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘clusters’, ‘pivoting’, ‘new normal’ ‘masks’ and ‘zoom’ now becoming commonplace.
While it has created many challenges, it has also presented us with opportunities. There are opportunities to reshape (another one of “those” words) the way we do things; in fact, it allows us to ask the question why do we do things this way?
The operations of the Foundation have incorporated videoconferencing allowing us to keep in touch remotely when face-to-face meetings are not an option. We have continued to build on our focus area of STEM by working with the Universities and organisations where we have forged a number of exciting partnerships. These partnerships have provided and continue to provide a variety of outcomes in the STEM area.
This annual report provides an update on the work the Foundation is currently funding. COVID-19 has caused some of these initiatives to be delayed in the short term until Victoria “reopens for business” (another concept that would not have been contemplated this time last year) which is expected to be early in 2021.
Our latest collaboration with Deakin University and the University of Melbourne has produced Girls’ Future – Our Future, The Invergowrie Foundation STEM Report 2020 update. Our first report was launched in 2017 and provided an overview of where STEM research was at globally and in Australia, in relation to girls and women. The latest report builds on the work undertaken in the 2017 report and provides an update on the progress being made in this area. A new area that emerges in the report is the status of careers advice. The report found that “careers advice in Australia – in general – is problematic”. It identifies that there is a need to build and strengthen this area within schools with the research indicating that discussions around careers should commence in the primary years rather than the generally accepted practice of focusing on the upper senior years. The report is due to be released officially in October 2020. The Council acknowledges the work undertaken by the research team, comprising staff from both Deakin and Melbourne, and we thank them for this impressive report.
The Foundation’s investment in this research has been well received both by the Foundation’s member schools and the broader community – including government and business. The Foundation is committed to continue funding this research in the foreseeable future.
Since embarking on the theme of STEM, the Foundation has invested just under $1m on initiatives to date. This investment is planned to increase over the next 3 years by $2.5m (subject to delays in undertaking some of the planned initiatives due to COVID-19 restrictions). This will bring the total to $3.3m that will have been invested into building the capacity and opportunities for girls and women to participate in the STEM field. Improving the gender balance will benefit everyone. The planned investment covers a variety of STEM related initiatives already underway, and these are outlined later in this report, as well as providing the Foundation with scope to consider further initiatives such as careers advice, an area outlined in our current research report.
Last year the value of the Foundation’s investments had grown to $19.5m. As at 30 June 2020 the portfolio was valued at $20.2m. Considering the instability in the share market since March this year this result is extremely pleasing.
Over the last 12 months, the Council has worked with a firm of design consultants to review the image of the Foundation and agreed that it should be refreshed to reflect a more contemporary expression of its values, messaging, and initiatives.
The result has been the use of bold colouring and opting for the logo to be an extension of the Foundation’s name, rather than being a separate component. The introduction of a newsletter and the latest Girls’ Future – Our Future report has been the first stage of rolling out the new design. The next stage will be the complete upgrade of the Foundation’s website, which is due to launch in September.
Regardless of COVID-19 the Foundation has continued to move forward, perhaps at a slower pace than anticipated, but nevertheless a forward progression. The Foundation’s plans are in place and are designed to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise. We are committed to building on the work that has been undertaken in STEM to date and look forward to working with our partners again, post COVID-19.
Our CEO, Kim Bartlett continues to provide excellent support to the Council and Investment and Finance Committee, together with managing the day to day operations of the Foundation and representing the Foundation at events and functions. We are very grateful to Kim and the work she has done to keep things going during the pandemic.
The work undertaken by the Investment and Finance Committee continues to provide strong stewardship of the Foundation’s investment portfolio and this is reflected in the current financial accounts. The Finance Committee is chaired by Anne Sarros and includes Heather Schnagl as Treasurer, Judith Potter, John Symons and Neil Tonkin and our investment advisor Mrs Sandi Tuddenham of Bell Potter Securities. The Committee has maintained a watchful eye over the investments this year and has held additional meetings during the year to ensure that, when necessary, decisions can be made in a timely manner that reflect a considered and flexible decision-making process. This dedicated approach by the Committee is greatly appreciated.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the Council – Susan Just, Meg Hansen, Judith Potter, Lisa Ronald, Anne Sarros and Heather Schnagl. I am so grateful to all of the members of the Council for their wise counsel and dedication to the work of the Foundation. Everyone has continued to meet regardless of personal adversity or work challenges that have arisen during this time which is testament to the commitment and passion everyone has for the Foundation and its work. This wonderful team of people makes being Chair of the Foundation such a pleasure and privilege.
The wisdom and foresight of the Principals, who established The Invergowrie Foundation, has provided us with a platform to focus specifically on girls and women. We are uniquely placed to highlight and advocate about the issues that limit and restrict the ability of girls and women to further their education, as well as seeking out and supporting those initiatives that promote and advance the education of girls and women.
Our current focus is STEM – the momentum is building as the journey continues.