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6 min read

Advancing equity for LGBTQIA+ communities: Pride Foundation Australia

Profile of Dom O'Donnell
Written by Dom O'DonnellPosted on 10/3/2023

Feature image: Pride Foundation Australia Chair Ruth McNair at Sydney WorldPride with performers of The Dan Daw Show, supported by PFA through its Arts & Culture funding program.

More than 120 funders and civil society leaders came together at Sydney WorldPride last month to share insights and strategies for resourcing rainbow communities in our region.

“The conversations I had at WorldPride just reinforced the need for our work,” says Ruth McNair, Chair of the Pride Foundation Australia (PFA), a philanthropic foundation run by and for the Australian LGBTQIA+ community.

“Repeated themes were around the inadequacy of funding, and the tiny proportion of philanthropic funding that goes to LGBTQIA+ communities,” says Ruth.

Since 2004, PFA has been working to change the story around LGBTQIA+ funding, and advance equity for Australia’s rainbow communities and individuals most disadvantaged by discrimination and structural inequalities.

Ruth recently spoke with us during Sydney WorldPride about current funding needs for LGBTQIA+ communities, plus PFA’s latest grant rounds, which are now being delivered through a partnership with Australian Communities Foundation.

Tell us about Pride Foundation Australia and the work you do.

Pride Foundation Australia aims to advance equity for Australian LGBTQIA+ communities using a model of social change philanthropy, and we do this through fundraising, grant giving, collaboration and commissioning projects. We have an all-volunteer board, advisory committees, and working groups from around Australia.

Specific LGBTQIA+ Priority Areas to date have included healthy ageing, mental health and suicide prevention, homelessness, and disability. Our current areas are refugees and people seeking asylum, and safe alcohol and other drug use, as well as support for LGBTIQA+ artists.

Rates of disadvantage and inequality among LGBTQIA+ communities and individuals are among the highest of any group in Australia.

Why is funding needed in the LGBTQIA+ space?

Rates of disadvantage and inequality among LGBTQIA+ communities and individuals are among the highest of any group in Australia. They face significant vulnerability and are more likely to experience discrimination, violence and abuse, and social exclusion. These challenges are even more likely for people with additional marginalised identities including people with multicultural, multifaith, First Nations backgrounds and people living with disabilities. They are also more likely in rural, regional and outer urban areas. These issues are very rarely a focus for government or NGO funding streams, so we try to partly fill that gap through philanthropy.

The role of philanthropy is to unapologetically raise awareness of the dire needs in our sub-communities, and to advocate for systemic change.
Ruth McNair with Rana Ebrahim, Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network, at the FDPN’s Queer Displacements conference at WorldPride.

What is philanthropy’s role in supporting LGBTQIA+ communities in 2023?

Increasing levels of poverty and exclusion during the pandemic have exacerbated issues for so many sub-groups, such as young people trapped in abusive families, refugees trapped in home or transition countries, trans people unable to access life-affirming gender affirmation care, and so many more.

The role of philanthropy is to unapologetically raise awareness of the dire needs in our sub-communities, and to advocate for systemic change. As part of our efforts at PFA to engage in this work, I attended the first roundtable of the national LGBTQIA+ refugee coalition at WorldPride. With the support of a grant from the Maddocks Foundation, PFA has commissioned the Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN), the peak body for forcibly displaced LGBTQIA+ people in Australia, as our partner to run the coalition. One of the many advocacy pieces coming from this work is a call for an LGBTQIA+ refugee quota into Australia.

Tell us about PFA’s granting streams and the recent partnership with Australian Communities Foundation.

The Foundation generally awards grants through our regular Major Grants and Small Grants programs. In 2023 we have already launched three grant rounds:

• In our first Disaster Grant Round, which closed in January, six grant recipients received $5,000 each for projects supporting LGBTQIA+ communities in areas affected by recent natural disasters. It was important to us to support our rural and regional communities in this way.

• We are currently inviting expressions of interest for our first Small Grants Round for 2023. PFA has run small grants rounds for a number of years and we see such a big impact from each grant, despite being just $750 each. We have awarded 132 small grants so far. We generally have over 60 applicants per round representing a huge range of activities and groups including individuals, schools, peer support groups, local councils, health services and other community groups. A key theme of these projects is social inclusion.

This year we have partnered with Australian Communities Foundation to support our grant rounds. ACF’s Grants Team is working closely with us, providing administrative support and offering their expertise in grant making. We have realised that as our work expands, we need to invest financial resources into ensuring that we are utilising best practice approaches. For example, the Foundation’s established but flexible approach to grant reporting enables a robust acquittal process to enhance our impact evaluations without placing undue burden on grantees.

What advice do you have for funders interested in supporting LGBTQIA+ communities?

Prospective funders and donors need to get to know the diverse array of communities within the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, to partner and ally with us, and to choose the right group to be involved with based on our mutual interests.

How can interested funders support the work of PFA?

There are a number of ways funders can support our work:

• One is our annual giving program, and we are seeing an increasing number of donors choosing to give regularly to our general work.
• We have an active bequests program.
• Our LGBTQIA+ Refugee Sub-Fund is a great option for donors who want to specifically support refugee sponsorship.
• Finally, we are happy to talk with any donor who has a specific cause in mind. Contact PFA

Current grant rounds

Pride Foundation Australia Small Grants Round

Grants of up to $750 are available to individuals, not-for-profit organisations, and communities with a project directly assisting, involving, and benefitting LGBTQIA+ people and promoting positive social outcomes.

Applications close 5pm AEDT Monday 27 March 2023.

Pride Foundation Australia x Sidney Myer Fund Large Grants Round

Grants of up to $20,000 are available to projects supporting sexuality, sex and gender diverse (LGBTQIA+) people who are refugees or seeking asylum.

Applications close 5pm AEST Monday 24 April 2023.