The Ireland Funds Australia celebrated in style for our annual Melbourne Luncheon with our network of friends, supporters and sponsors. We once again enjoyed being back at Zinc @ Federation Square where we welcomed more than 180 guests for great food and beverage and celebrating the work that we do.
We were delighted to have our Chairman Yvonne Le Bas, CFO of BT Financial Group, fly down from Sydney for the Lunch. Yvonne welcomed guests including H.E. Breandán Ó Caollaí Irish Ambassador to Australia, fellow Board Members Ted Johnson and Patrick Tuttle, former Board Member Kevin Luscombe AM, Executive Director Teresa Keating and the Melbourne Young Leader Committee. Yvonne also welcomed supporter Fergus Ryan AO, major sponsors Emirates Regional Director Dean Cleaver and Australian Radio Network. We were delighted to have many representatives of the wider Irish community attend including the Celtic Club, Trinity College Alumni, the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce, the University of Melbourne and Science Gallery Melbourne.
AIEF Scholarship graduate Gabrielle Ebsworth gave a wonderful acknowledgement of country and speech to open the occasion, and Frank McGuire, Member for Broadmeadows represented the Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
The Chairman gave an overview of activities of the Fund over the past 12 months including:
- Hosting the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins.
- Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor General of Australia launching our Scholarship partnership with Trinity College Dublin.
- Partnering with AIEF to support for 80 indigenous scholarship places at 4 leading schools in Australia
- Being the official launch partner with Science Gallery Melbourne for their first pop-up exhibition
- Continued support for Soar, with their “Stripped” program which reaches 1320 young women in 22 schools across Ireland.
- Further funding towards the Integrate My School project, an Integrated Education awareness campaign explaining that every school in Northern Ireland has the opportunity to transform into an integrated school, today only 7% of schools are integrated despite polls showing 80% support for integration in Northern Ireland.
- Committing to sponsoring 20 scholarships at Trinity College Dublin
Yvonne also spoke proudly of the milestones Ireland Funds Australia has managed to achieve with the generosity of our much valued supporters:
- Over the last 31 years we have given $10.5 million to 107 projects in Ireland and in Australia
- Over the last 5 years 93.5% of tax-deductible donations received by the Fund have been allocated directly to our charities
The Ambassador then spoke endorsing the work of the Fund, telling guests the support of the worldwide Ireland Funds network for projects in Ireland and Irish projects around the globe is vital and is making a huge difference in the lives of many people.
Our MC, Catherine Murphy then invited Professor Karen Day, Dean of Science at Melbourne University to the stage to discuss her impressive career along with some initiatives the Ireland Funds Australia and Science Gallery Melbourne were partnering together to support via pledges on the day including:
- Indigenous Cadetship, a unique opportunity for a young indigenous Australian to join the Science Gallery Melbourne team in a part time paid role for 6 months, developing valuable skills and travelling to Science Gallery Dublin for further work experience.
- Regional Schools Outreach, bringing a class of students from regional or disadvantaged areas in Victoria and Dublin to their respective Science Gallery for a day on campus.
With STEM qualifications being required for 75% of future jobs in Australia these initiatives are a significant step in the right direction and we look forward to hearing the success stories from these fantastic programmes.
Guests were then encouraged to pledge their support and the generosity demonstrated in the room was supreme as we raised extra funds specifically for these Science Gallery programmes.
Our auctioneer Chris McKearney from EBM Insurance expertly and energetically conducted our live auction. A huge thank you to major sponsors, Emirates, Coolmore Stud, Sydney Yachts, Mrs Jones at the Orient, Eureka Level 89, Rugby Australia and Australian Radio Network.
We were entertained by the 3 TenOz, who brought soaring vocals and humorous banter to the day and were most certainly a crowd hit.
Our Melbourne Young Leader Chair Sandra Booth then spoke about the Young Leader network, including the Global 5k Run on September 22, and together with Sonia O’Sullivan, Ambassador for the Global 5K, encouraged all present to join us and run!
Catherine finalised the day’s formalities by thanking everyone for their attendance and generosity and introduced the Bad Penguins who performed for guests as they relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company as well as Irish Coffees and Baileys!
Photographer: Drew Echberg