Better is possible
Better is necessary

All people deserve to thrive. We know there is more than enough to go around.

What we do

A strategic
approach for
maximum impact.

Australia is a beautiful, relatively wealthy country. But our wealth isn’t necessarily distributed evenly and our society has a handful of highly complex, long-term problems that affect some communities more than others. As an organisation committed to helping create a better, fairer Australia, we’ve thought deeply and carefully about where and how we can have the greatest, most beneficial impact. This has led us to a clear strategic focus on housing, income and relationships. Concentrating our work on specific issues in these areas and, importantly, the points where they’re interconnected, will propel us towards our overarching vision – creating safe homes to enable families to thrive.

Why focus on
homes, income
and relationships?

Research showed us that these three interconnected elements are at the core of communities’ ability to thrive. Challenges affecting one or more of the areas greatly inhibit families’ sense of wellbeing and belonging – with devastating results. For example, in 2017–18 over a million families were in financial housing stress. In 2019–20, 39,000 people sought long-term housing after experiencing domestic violence but only 1,223 received it. And, related to that, heart-breakingly, a woman is murdered by an intimate partner nearly every week in Australia. This is absolutely unacceptable. Our strategy and mission aim to instigate real, meaningful change.

Why place?

We focus on place-based change because where we live unquestionably affects us, the opportunities available, what we believe and our health and well-being.

For decades universal approaches to problems have failed to meet the needs of many communities. Often communities know what they need, understand why systems don’t work and can design more effective solutions. For this reason, we back people who are deeply connected to where they live, and have identified better and fairer ways to create thriving places. We support them for the long term, are present with them in their community and use our resources to accelerate their ideas.

Where we do it

We are currently exploring three places that are close to our family’s heart. By spending time in each community we are growing our understanding of the history and culture of each place. We want to know if there is a clear role for us to play and let the community lead us toward the positive impact we hope to make. 

Read about each of these communities, written by the people who know them best.

‘Cavanbah’, meaning ‘meeting place’ is the Arakwal name for Byron Bay. It was here that northern and southern tribes of the Bundjalung Nation met.

Byron Bay, on the north coast of New South Wales, is the most easterly point of the Australian continent. It is approximately 800 kilometres north of Sydney by road and approximately 200 kilometres south of Brisbane. The Byron Shire covers an area of 566 square kilometres and magnificent white-sand beaches stretch along the entire length of its coast. Rainforest remnants are dotted through the hinterland’s rolling green hills. While stunningly beautiful, it’s the community of people that makes the Shire such a special place.

Over the past 170 years, until the end of the 1970s, the Shire had a long and diverse history of primary industries, some of them operating on a world scale. Among the most well known were the timber getters who cut down the hardwood rainforests, Norco – which began in Byron Bay and still exists – for its world-famous butter and pigs, and farming of various types including dairy, beef, coffee, bananas and sugarcane. Other once-large industries were whaling, and sand mining on the beaches. From the late 19th century to the mid-1950s Byron had a jetty, which made it a central port. But both the original jetty and its replacement were destroyed in storms and the remains were demolished. The last of the area’s primary industries was meat production, and the closure of the Walkers Abattoir at Belongil Beach in 1983 was a hugely significant event in Byron Bay and the Shire.

As primary industries closed or relocated the Shire Council decided to pursue tourism as the main industry across the towns – Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Ocean Shores, Suffolk Park, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, South Golden Beach – and the dozen or so villages – Federal, Goonengerry, Coorabell, The Pocket, Main Arm, Wilsons Creek, Huonbrook, Billinudgel, Myocum, Eureka, Yelgun, Possum Creek. In 2021 the estimated resident population was 36,217 and in 2019 approximately 2.7 million tourists visited the Shire.

Each town and village has a unique place in Byron Shire and its own strong sense of community. The Shire’s first tourism study in 1984 was called ‘Keeping Byron Unique’. Surfers and the alternative lifestyle movement in Mullumbimby and its surrounds are a major presence in the community.

Byron is a caring community. At the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics census, 25% of the relevant population had done voluntary work through an organisation or group in the previous 12 months. This compares with 18.1% in New South Wales and 19% in Australia.

Today, there are new arrivals of young families and industry in the Shire. Festivals of all kinds – including music, writing, film, aquatic and kites – happen just about every month of the year. The tech and film industries are gaining a foothold to provide employment, in addition to the hospitality and community services industries.

Byron is known widely for its creativity and strong environmental and social activism. This spirit of thought will lead it through the challenges it faces.

Written by Tricia Shantz

Coffs Harbour is based upon the land of the Gumbaynggirr people who form one of the largest coastal Aboriginal Nations in New South Wales.

Nestled between the mountains and ocean, ‘Korfe’s Harbour’ changed its name to Coffs Harbour in 1861. The community was built on the fishing, timber and banana farming industries and is the home of one of the iconic ‘Big Things’ in the country – the Big Banana. Since the 2000s, blueberry farming has taken over the Coffs coast region as its most considerable agricultural output, especially north of the city in Woolgoolga, where there is also a thriving Sikh community.

The largest employers in Coffs are the government, health and tourism sectors. Coffs Harbour is home to a growing regional airport, servicing flights to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, a campus of Southern Cross University and two hospitals (one public, one private). The airport link provides a number of opportunities for families to be based in the region while still being able to travel regularly to the city for work purposes. For families, Coffs offers a choice of good quality schools and the relaxed lifestyle that can only be found in a regional city.

For those looking for either a tree change or a sea change, the Coffs Coast offers a quality lifestyle. It is the only place in New South Wales where the Great Dividing Range meets the sea, and its hinterland is filled with villages, rolling hills, national parks, subtropical rainforests and rivers and waterfalls to enjoy. And of course there are numerous beaches to delight those drawn to the sand and surf.

For adventures, Coffs Harbour offers an abundance of activities, many of them nature-based, given the region’s natural beauty. Coffs has also been host
to the Rally Australia championships for many years, and in 2022 played host to the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship. The city is also the venue for a number of local food and cultural festivals.

Currently Coffs Harbour, like many communities throughout Australia, faces a shortage of affordable rental housing for families. This situation will be exacerbated by the new Pacific Highway bypass development, which got underway in 2022. But the City of Coffs Harbour is working towards solutions for this. The completion of the bypass, and two recent new large-scale developments in shared retail/residential and government buildings, are set to bring Coffs’ city centre to life. Rather than being a town that people sometimes just ‘pass through’, Coffs has the opportunity to thrive in re-thinking its retail and communal spaces. One site of particular interest is the Coffs Harbour Jetty area, a heritage-listed timber jetty and adjacent parklands. In consultation with community groups, visitors and residents, the jetty precinct will undergo development in the coming years to improve facilities for both the community and visitors.

In 2021 the Coffs Coast region was globally recognised as an ECO Destination because of its diverse cultural community and commitment to balancing sustainable practices. This will bring in both business and tourism opportunities for years to come.

Written by Anna McAfee

Traditional land of the Gunn-e-darr people of the Kamilaroi tribe, the name Gunnedah is thought to mean ‘place of white stones’.

Gunnedah. The Big Country, a land of far horizons. The sunburnt country, reflected in the memorable poem of the landscape, Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country. It’s a land of sweeping plains but a land of contrast too – the droughts and flooding rains tellingly featured in Mackellar’s signature poem.

Gunnedah is a land of plenty. It has foreboding power and striking beauty, deep chocolate soils and wispy plains grass, quiet bush and lines of deep blue hills, brilliant sunrises and soft dusks, bustling progress and eerie vastness. The earth yields shimmering white cotton crops, russet-red sorghum, oval-faced bright sunflower and waving wheat fields ready for harvest.

But it’s more than that. Over generations, Gunnedah has evolved into a modern, progressive and vibrant community of 10,000, a town with a glittering past and an exciting future, drawn from its agricultural strength and the development of its natural resources. It’s culturally strong, too, with its art galleries, museums and murals, its coffee shops, meeting places and sporting facilities that are second to none in medium-sized country towns.

Gunnedah also has other multiple claims to fame – as the home of the largest agricultural exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere, as the Koala Capital of the World and, for more than 30 years, it was the country homestead of Dorothea Mackellar’s family.

The centre of town features an imposing Town Hall and clock tower, an exhibition centre for the creative arts, a cinema, a Rainbow Serpent water feature which underlines the town’s Aboriginal heritage, extensive, enclosed play space for children of all ages and abilities (Livvi’s Place), a picture-perfect main oval with a heritage, cream-coloured picket fence, and a tennis complex, also in heritage colours, in the town precinct.

Half an hour from town is the area’s water sports playground – Lake Keepit. Two-thirds the size of Sydney Harbour, the lake is a drawcard for boating, fishing, water skiing and sailing opportunities. There is a BMX track and skate park and, nearby, gliding facilities that have hosted national and world titles.

Gunnedah’s great strength, though, is its people. Community spirit has been the town’s trademark for generations. It was this spirit that made sure an aerodrome was built and co-ordinated a brilliant ‘people’ effort that transformed a rock quarry and garbage dump into a war memorial pool in the 1950s. It also provided the impetus to convert an abandoned water tower into a matchless five-storey museum in a parkland setting in the centre of town. A few decades later, the community established three-tiered care facilities for its elderly: a nursing home, hostel for the aged and retirement village complex.

Gunnedah has been a microcosm of the Australian way of life, a tiny speck on a giant’s canvas. Generations of people have played out their lives here, each life a unique event – triumph and tragedy, good times and bad, joy and heartbreak.

The people and the land have endured. My Country is timeless.

Written by Ron McLean