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4 min read

Meet Anna Demant, Head of Impact

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 10/3/2022

Australian Communities Foundation’s Head of Impact, Anna Demant, has devoted decades of her career towards making the world, in her own words, “a better and kinder place”.

Don’t mistake her bid for a more caring world as wishful thinking or a lack of grit – beneath Anna’s gentle demeanour lies a fierce and unapologetic commitment to the pursuit of social and environmental justice.

“We’re facing huge threats to our democracy and to our climate,” Anna says. “We need to listen to the Indigenous people of this country, and we need to support the changemakers on the ground who want to fuel a sustainable and progressive Australia.”

I’d admired the work of ACF from afar for a number of years, especially the achievements made through the Impact Fund

Anna with Eang Vuthy, CEO Equitable Cambodia

After working with Lonely Planet founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler heading up their Planet Wheeler Foundation for 13 years and the Lonely Planet Foundation prior to that, Anna deepened her passion for human rights and supporting people seeking asylum. So much so that over the years she become a founding member of Refugee Leadership Alliance, and a board member of Refugee Advice & Casework Service and Inclusive Development International.

“I developed strong connections with Myanmar, particularly along the Thai-Burma border, the Mekong region and Afghanistan,” Anna explains.

“I was really lucky in my work at Planet Wheeler to be able to make those connections and hear the stories of many of the partners ACF shares with Planet Wheeler, including the Human Rights Law Centre and Refugee Legal.

“As I learned more about the work ACF is doing to activate progressive givers I realised it was something that really appealed to me, particularly the focus on people with lived experience as drivers of their own stories and recognising that they have the most to offer in terms of shaping policies around what they’re experiencing,” Anna says.

“I’d admired the work of ACF from afar for a number of years, especially the achievements made through the Impact Fund, so I was really happy to be invited to help grow the impact area of the organisation, especially achieving impact through advocacy.”

Stories are central to communicating what it is we want to see and achieve and how we can all get there

One of Anna’s key pieces of work is helping to capture and share the achievements of ACF’s flagship collective giving vehicle, the Impact Fund, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2022.

“So much of the work our Impact Funders have supported has been transformative,” Anna says. “It’s pretty much a daily privilege for me to hear the stories, which are both sobering and inspiring, from changemakers like Apryl Day (Dhadjowa Foundation), Cass Goldie (ACOSS) and Hugh de Kretser (Human Rights Law Centre).

“I’ve always been interested in people and the stories they have to tell. Stories are central to communicating what it is we want to see and achieve and how we can all get there.”

Away from the office, Anna’s strong sense of community is grounded in the small rituals and activities that make up a life. “I’ve got two kids, two whippets, two guinea pigs and two fish,” she chuckles. “I also have a partner who’s involved in similar work to myself, and we love walking the dogs together down by the creek. My Saturday morning ritual is going to the local farmer’s market. I like supporting my community and I really like cooking, so the farmer’s market brings all that together – friends and food in the one place!”