With a mission to prevent violence against children, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation is widely respected for its tireless advocacy, fundraising and support services.
What is the basic idea behind the Alannah & Madeline Foundation?
The Foundation was started after the terrible tragedy at Port Arthur in 1996, where 35 people were murdered in a mass shooting, including two little girls, Alannah and Madeline.
We want all children to live in a world free from violence and to thrive. Our work reduces violence in families, the community, online and in schools, with a big focus on reducing childhood bullying and cyberbullying.
We want all children to live in a world free from violence and to thrive.
We also help children recover from violence. After more than 20 years of tireless endeavour, the Foundation has supported more than two million children.
What are some of the proudest moments you have had during your time there?
Meeting Tasmanians who were first on the scene at Port Arthur during our 20th anniversary last year was so moving. They are so proud of what the Foundation does and their part in creating it.
Also, meeting adults who say: “you were there for me and it changed my life”.
Recently, one of the first children we helped became an adult ambassador to the Foundation. He is a remarkable person and he says that Children Ahead (our intensive support service) gave him back his childhood after he lost his mother through a particularly violent crime. He has gone on to become a university lecturer in health.
What is the biggest challenge the Foundation faces today?
Every organisation faces the same challenge, I guess – staying innovative while focusing on our core strength. We are not a big organisation that exists by doing contracted work by government, we work closely with corporate partners and rely on donors to fund our work.
We work hard to ensure we reach children in need who might otherwise be overlooked – we often say the children we work with are the quiet and withdrawn ones in the classroom, often the “good kids” who try desperately not to attract attention. They are often the silent survivors.
What has surprised you the most about running a charity?
There isn’t much that surprises me! We work hard to ensure our fundraising is ethical. If there is one thing I would say is critical it is that values matter.
No matter how competitive this industry can be, it is more important to do the right thing than to win.
No matter how competitive this industry can be, it is more important to do the right thing than to win
Who is someone that inspires you in your work?
Without question, I am inspired every day by the survivors of Port Arthur and the wonderful man who inspired our foundation after he lost his entire family in that tragedy, Walter Mikac.
He said: “I refuse to have my life defined by hate”. He is a selfless and remarkable person.
What is your best habit as a CEO?
Strong work ethic! I very much value the effort and professionalism of the team at the Foundation and I respect their work by responding quickly to their emails and questions.
I’m a big believer in delegating. Back your team. Help them thrive.
We are a team and I try to build a strong sense of shared responsibility. I’m a big believer in delegating. Back your team. Help them thrive.