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Welcome to the Annual Chair’s Report for 2022 and to the 30th anniversary of The Invergowrie Foundation.

Each year when I begin the task of writing my report, I like to review what I had written in the previous year. This sometimes provides an opportunity to connect with what had been happening in the previous 12 months and then link it to what has been happening in the 12 months to 30 June 2022 (even as I write this in September, many things have happened in the world since June!).

The following is what I was musing on this time last year:

Fast forward to today and as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write this report the Victorian Premier is about to announce the measures that will be put in place in relation to the current lockdown being experienced in Victoria. It is almost a replica of 2020!

In spite of the challenges that COVID (and the Delta variant that has emerged) the Foundation has continued to forge ahead with its work.

At the time of writing this report, we are mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II whose reign extended for 70 years; we have also seen the passing of Judith Durham and Olivia Newton-John in recent weeks. All of these women, in their own ways, have inspired many women (and men) and each have left a legacy.

In looking at the Invergowrie Foundation, the educators who established this entity 30 years ago, also created a legacy which to date has grown from $4m to $23m in value and has gifted over $10m in grants. The Foundation’s legacy continues to develop and expand its reach, and this can be seen in the work that the Foundation is undertaking to develop and broaden the opportunities for girls and women to advance their education into the areas of Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The Council continues to invest and support in a variety of projects and research which are outlined in detail in this report. I will now provide a summary of the work we have been doing both from a STEM perspective and from an operational perspective.

From a STEM perspective

Development of a STEM Hub

Last year the Foundation reported on a collaborative project being considered by 3 Universities to develop a STEM Hub. The universities created a working party to review the initiative and develop a new proposal for the Council to consider. We are delighted to advise that the universities combining to undertake this project are the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and Swinburne University of Technology.

This is a significant project for the Foundation not only because of the scale and depth of this project but also because of the collaboration between the universities to undertake this project. The collaboration allows us to tap into both Advancement teams of the universities but to combine the academic talent and expertise of the universities which is a very exciting opportunity.

With the administrative logistics now agreed the project will commence soon and will take two years to complete.

Monash Virtual School

The Foundation is delighted to partner with Monash University to provide virtual revision sessions in 8 Unit 3 and 4 VCE STEM subjects. The pilot program proved successful, and this led to the Foundation providing funding to expand this program.

In addition to this program the Foundation is now working with the University to include revision sessions for 8 Unit 1 and 2 VCE STEM subjects as well as developing and implementing a virtual STEM program for students in Years 5 and 6. This is an area that the research the Foundation had commissioned, identifies that students in the primary levels need to be encouraged and supported to discover STEM opportunities.

 Girls’ Future-Our Future – a third edition

Once again, the Foundation will undertake research into STEM with the commissioning of a third edition of the Girls’ Future-Our Future report. This report will be looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the attitudes, perceptions and career considerations of girls in relation to studying STEM subjects.

 Other projects

In 2022 The Foundation continued a number of STEM projects as well The McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship for Women in STEM.

From an operational perspective

Review of the Foundation’s Constitution

As mentioned last year the pandemic influenced the way the Foundation managed its operations. With the introduction of virtual meetings and the need to adapt general business led the Council to review the constitution.

The Council has sought legal advice in reviewing the constitution, and it is fitting that as we celebrate our 30th anniversary we ensure that the constitution provides the Foundation with flexible guidelines that reflect current business practices to that we can look to the future with confidence. At the 2022 AGM in November the Council will present the changes for members to consider and then to vote on whether to accept the proposed new constitution.

Financial Strategy

While the value of the Foundation’s investments declined as at 30 June 2022 to $21.4m (2021 – $23.2m) The Foundation’s generated income of just over $1m (2021 – $638k) to continue supporting identified STEM programs.

We are continuing to move forward to build the capacity of the Foundation as well as engaging in partnerships and initiatives that will benefit girls and women through our STEM focus. All this in spite of challenging times that we have experienced over the last two years.

The work being undertaken could not be achieved without the experience and dedication of the Foundation’s CEO, Kim Bartlett, and the Foundation’s Council members, Susan Just, Meg Hansen, Judith Potter, Lisa Ronald, Anne Sarros and Heather Schnagl. Kim continues to provide unwavering support to all committee and Council members and her skills and expertise are greatly valued in her day-to-day management of the Foundation’s operations.

The Investment and Finance Committee continues to provide diligent oversight and management of the Foundation’s investment portfolio. The Committee has continued its recent practice of meeting every one to two months to ensure that the management of the investments continues to remain responsive to the economic environment. Under the stewardship of Anne Sarros as Chair of the Committee and ably supported by Heather Schnagl (Treasurer), Judith Potter, John Symons and Neil Tonkin and our investment advisor Ms Sandi Tuddenham from Bell Potter their skills and expertise are greatly valued and appreciated.

All Council members continue to provide wisdom and expertise in the governance of the Foundation. Their continued dedication and commitment to the work of the Foundation is testament to the work that is being undertaken today but always with an eye on the future. My thanks to all of them for everything they do for the Foundation.

In closing, as the Invergowrie Foundation enters its 4th decade, we reflect on the work of everyone that has gone before us. Their vision and commitment to creating a Foundation focused on advancing the education of girls and women is, today, still the exception rather than the rule, and so we continue to be uniquely placed to build on their legacy to support issues and seek opportunities that enhance educational outcomes for girls and women.

Wendy Lewis OAM


September 2022






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