Paul Ramsay Foundation plan to break cycle of disadvantage
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Paul Ramsay Foundation plan to break cycle of disadvantage

by Freya Lucas

May 18, 2020

The impact of cycles of disadvantage on the ultimate outcomes of the life of a child are well known and understood by the early childhood education and care (ECEC) community. 


Girls born into the lowest income families have only a 14 per cent chance of breaking out of poverty in their lifetime, and boys born into the same circumstance have only a 22 per cent chance, Melbourne Institute research commissioned by the Foundation recently found


It is from this premise that the Paul Ramsay Foundation unveiled its strategy to help break cycles of disadvantage in Australia late last week. This strategy will guide all future partnerships of the Foundation with charities, other not-for-profit organisations, research institutions and government.


So far in 2020, the Foundation has used this strategy as a basis to allocate $84 million in support, including $45 million to 15 organisations for longer term initiatives, $30 million for bushfire recovery and $9 million in phase one of COVID-19 funding to support vaccine research and vulnerable communities through the pandemic.


Foundation CEO, Professor Glyn Davis AC said cycles of disadvantage are persistent, stubborn and complex.


“Even in a country as prosperous as Australia, we cannot forget our three million fellow citizens who live in poverty,” he cautioned. 


Professor Davis said the Foundation’s strategy underscores its belief that every Australian deserves an opportunity to live a healthy, productive and satisfying life, something which begins in the early years. 


“Cycles of disadvantage exist when children are ill-prepared for school, Australians do not complete education, find employment or are caught in the Criminal Justice system. They also occur in communities which know what needs to be done to break these cycles but do not have the resources to help their most vulnerable,” he added. 


Many factors contribute to ongoing disadvantage, including poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic and family violence. Breaking the cycles requires collaboration, innovation and risk taking, the Professor added. 


The new framework is the culmination of almost a year of work during which the Foundation identified and defined its approach. 


“We are grateful to our many partners who assisted us through that journey and to the extraordinarily talented team we have been privileged to recruit,” Professor Davis said.


Four critical off-ramps target weak points in cycles of disadvantage

Professor Davis said the Foundation continues to forge partnerships that use four critical “off-ramps” to target the weak points in cycles of disadvantage: Transitions to Employment, A Chance to Learn, Criminal Justice and Thriving Communities.


Transitions to Employment funds initiatives that assist those struggling to find long-term, stable employment including people with disabilities.


A Chance to Learn supports lifelong learning opportunities from early childhood.


Thriving Communities supports initiatives that assist communities to find their own bespoke solutions to their particular challenges.


Criminal Justice will support measures which seek to break the persistent cycle of disadvantage of those caught in the Criminal Justice system. It will, at the outset, focus on intergenerational disadvantage, incarceration rates, homelessness and domestic and family violence.


“We will pursue an additional mandate to support the capability and growth of the not-for-profit sector, social impact investing and social enterprises,” Professor Davis said, explaining the Foundation was committed to strengthening Australia’s charity sector.


Early childhood focused initiatives 

The Foundation intends to work with United Way Australia and The Hive in Sydney’s Mt Druitt to develop “the very best early childhood education options for this community”.


Mt Druitt has 6,000 children under the age of five and includes Australia’s largest urban Indigenous population. The Hive focuses on the one third of Mt Druitt children assessed as developmentally vulnerable when they start school using AEDC data


In addition, the Foundation will partner with The Smith Family to build on its Learning for Life program to offer support to disadvantaged children with complex needs and circumstances, through a new program called ‘On Par’. This pilot, with rigorous evaluation, will test interventions with national potential.


All partnerships

The full list of new partnerships is below:

  1. The Hive: United Way Australia
  2. Co-creating community (Logan & Brimbank): Griffith University & Victoria University
  3. Learning for Life Data Futures: The Smith Family
  4. On PAR: The Smith Family
  5. Transforming corrections to transform lives: Griffith University
  6. Youth Early Intervention Model (South East Perth): Save the Children
  7. Shared data environment for understanding and tackling disadvantage: Melbourne Institute
  8. Understanding pathways linking disadvantage to pregnancy and childhood outcomes: Gen V and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  9. Leadership: Australian Scholarships Foundation
  10. Philanthropy: Philanthropy Australia
  11. Research: Sydney Policy Lab
  12. Organisational Effectiveness: Creating Partnerships for Potential (CPP) – A Peer to Peer Initiative (P2P)
  13. Synergis Fund
  14. Living Learning LLC
  15. For Purpose Investment Partners


The late Paul Ramsay AO established the Foundation in 2006 and, after his death in 2014, left the majority of his estate to continue his philanthropy for generations to come.


His commitment to good works has allowed us to support the for-purpose sector with grants of more than $350 million made since 2016 to more than 90 different partners, committed as we are to achieving lasting change.


More information about the Foundation may be found here. To learn more about Mr Ramsay, please see here

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