GALFA’s purpose is to advance the good and betterment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people and their allied communities. The first step to form an Australian GLBTI philanthropic foundation occurred on the 19th July 2004 when a group of like minded people from Melbourne’s GLBTI community met with the assistance of the Reichstein Foundation. After much work by the formation committee, GALFA became a reality in November 2007.
GALFA arose as a logical step in our community’s evolution to be Out, Proud and Supportive of ourselves. From the liberation movement of the 1970’s gay and lesbian communities emerged across Australian capital cities and sometime later in regional Australia. The HIV/Aids epidemic in the 1980’s resulted in enhanced community activism to provide support for those with illness, fight for the latest drugs, promote safe sex and overcome discrimination. By the early 2000’s significant law reform occurred with many rights and responsibilities of GLBTI citizen’s equivalent to others in society. It was known further law reform, marriage equality and campaigns to overcome homophobia equal access to services were needed, as was ongoing support for the disadvantaged in our community – the younger people, aged and those with illness.
Melbourne based Reichstein Foundation, a recognised leader in social change philanthropy, was the only mainstream philanthropic organisation in the 1990’s funding GLBTI projects. Their funding included the Victorian Aids Council and Cobaw Community Health’s WayOut project to support for same sex attracted rural youth. The peak body Philanthropy Australia and Reichstein identified in the early 2000’s that GLBTI projects were significantly underrepresented in mainstream philanthropic funding, and as a result Reichstein recruited volunteers to raise the awareness and practice of philanthropy and form a GLBTI donor circle.
It was in this context that the need for a GLBTI community philanthropic organisation identified, and the GALFA formation committee first met in July 2004. The group consisted of Bruce Mc Nicol, Cath Smith, Chris Gill, Christa Momot (EO of Reichstein Foundation) Heather Birch, Ian Gould, Ian Seal (Reichstein Trustee) and Peter Di Scarsio. Reichstein Foundation hosted the meeting and Jill Reichstein (Chair of Reichstein Foundation) addressed the group, encouraging us to form our own foundation. The committee reviewed overseas experience, and Bruce McNicol generously funded a visit to Melbourne by Nancy Cunningham the chair of the US Funders of Gay and Lesbian Issues (the peak US body for GLBTI philanthropy) to provide guidance. During her visit Nancy addressed a public meeting on 18th November 2004 at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, which was attended by about 50 interested community people. With the public meeting indicating community support, decision was taken to establish GALFA. Appropriate purpose, definition and governance structures were developed, with pro bono support from John Emerson of FreeHills Lawyers and Sarina Jackson of Douros Lawyers.
Since becoming operational in 2007 GALFA is reliant on donations and bequests to achieve its purpose and fund priority projects. Unlike many philanthropic funds GALFA did not commence with a significant donation or bequest. Therefore GALFA is working to increase community understanding of the benefits philanthropy can achieve, raise funds and invest in priority projects.