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Annual report 2018/19


Welcome to our Annual Report, which outlines the performance of our Grants, Volunteering and Matched Giving programs in 2018/19. We invite you to read about the work of our partners, who are helping young Australians to achieve in education, and to read the stories of those we’ve been proud to support this year.

Steven Sargent, Chair

Education is one
of the great
equalisers in life Steve Sargent

Sean Barrett, Head of Foundation

Education is vital to
vibrant communities Sean Barrett


How are we funded?

Our financial distributions to the community are funded by investment returns from a corpus which was provided by Origin Energy in 2010. The corpus is currently valued at approximately $56 million. To maximise the amount available for distribution, the running costs of the Foundation are paid for by Origin Energy.

Investment income this year was disrupted by a change to our investment strategy, which reduced the amount available for distribution compared with previous years. The intent of the new strategy is to increase our capacity to give over the long term.

$28M distributed to the
community since 2010 (includes employee

Where does the money go?

Distributed amount in FY 18/19


Grants Program


Volunteering Program


Give2 Matched Giving program (includes
employee contributions)



Distributed amount since inception (2010)


Grants Program


Volunteering Program


Give2 Matched Giving program (includes employee contributions)




We continued to see young people thrive in education this year, through the support of our Grants Program, which aims to:

  • Create greater gender diversity in ‘STEM’ education (science, technology, engineering and maths)
  • Provide equality of educational opportunity for two groups: Indigenous students, and children in rural and remote Australia
  • Build a stronger community sector by increasing the professionalism and productivity of the not-for-profit sector through training and development

Marianne Haines from regional Victoria is our 2018 General Sir John Monash Foundation scholar, studying for her PhD in Geoscience at Calgary University in Canada. She is our 8th John Monash scholar and our 5th female. Despite several self-proclaimed ‘false starts’ in education, Marianne discovered her love of science when studying industrial design. Disturbed by the polystyrene waste created in the model-making process, she decided to be part of the solution, not the problem and went on to graduate with Honours in Biochemistry and Microbiology from La Trobe University. She is now using her PhD to harness bacteria, fungi and algae to generate new forms of renewable energy.

Marianne is passionate about inspiring the next generation of female scientists and worked with us to create a series of short videos aimed at introducing students to careers in science as a pathway to creating a better world.

STEM skills, alongside the ability to collaborate and to think critically and creatively, will be needed to solve some of our biggest global challenges. But student enrolment in STEM subjects in high school is at a 20-year low. And only 16% of the 2.3 million STEM-qualified Australians today are female.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an Australian not-for-profit creating social value through engineering, with a uniquely-high female membership. With female participation rates across engineering at an all-time low in Australia, and declining, we commissioned EWB to explore the links between humanitarian engineering and gender diversity. Engineering Redefined sparks fresh calls for the sector to be reimagined, including involving women in humanitarian and social projects. It also opens a broader discussion on addressing diversity in the sector, beyond the gender gap.

Reports from David Gonski (Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools), The Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel (Optimising STEM Industry-School Partnerships: Inspiring Australia’s Next Generation) and Bill Ferris (Australia 2030 – Prosperity through Innovation) are highlighting the need for better STEM education in schools, and improved STEM teaching.

Jason Kimberley is the founder of Cool Australia, an Australian charity providing curriculum-linked resources to educators and students. He claims more than half of STEM teachers in our schools are teaching out of field. Our new, five-year partnership with Cool Australia has been formed to address the issue; enabling the development of STEM-specific professional development courses and lesson plans for teachers. The resources will help nearly 100,000 teachers, including those in rural and regional locations, to make STEM relevant, interesting and meaningful to students, by connecting classroom learning to real-world issues.

This year saw the end of our funding for long-term partners Gawura and Country Education Foundation.

Over six years our Foundation provided $920,000 of funding for Gawura, a primary day school for the Indigenous children of Sydney’s inner suburbs. Our support enabled the school to build its capacity by hiring new staff, enrolling their largest cohort of students and documenting their model, so their success can be replicated. Gawura students are achieving above-average levels of literacy, numeracy and attendance, when compared with similar schools.

We are encouraged to see students like Izak Rigney-Sebastian, who was part of Gawura’s first intake of students in 2007, achieving in his last year of secondary school. Izak, who’s passion is science, plans to study medicine at university next year. He wants to help Aboriginal communities improve their health outcomes.

We are midway through a three-year agreement with CareerTackers to send graduate alumni back into community to promote the advantages of education.

Our Origin Foundation Grant King Indigenous Scholarships program in now in its second year, and we extend our congratulations to the two new 2019 scholars.

The first cohort of students from the Wuyagiba Regional Study Hub have entered Macquarie University in Sydney. We provided capacity support for the bush university and are now supporting the first cohort. It was pleasing to see the bush university concept receive support in the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap Report.

Through our seven year partnership with the Country Education Foundation (CEF) young people from regional and rural Australia have been accessing further education and training, to reach their full potential.

Dr Ceridwen Boel is an archaeologist from Yass in regional NSW. She is achieving on both a national and international stage but also passionate about giving back to her local community by mentoring young women interested in science and research. Alongside Jacob Dennis, Jessica Verwey and Crystal Stewart, Cerdiwen was acknowledged in the inaugural Origin Foundation CEF Alumni of the Year Awards.

Wendy Cohen is the former CEO of CEF who works with young people and their communities in 43 regions in Australia. She explains on our blog why it’s critical for students in regional and rural Australia to have access to the same educational opportunities as their metropolitan peers.

The Australian Scholarships Foundation continues to provide access to prized training and development opportunities for leaders in the Not-for-Profit Sector. Research previously commissioned by the Origin Foundation has found that training and development aids the individual, their organisation, and ultimately the community.

The Community Council for Australia (CCA) advocates for and enhances the work of Australia’s vibrant Not-for-Profit sector. This year we provided funding to support CCA’s It Takes A Village community-led campaign, which aims to mobilise all Australians to take an active role in the education and future success of our young people.

CEO David Crosbie says “each year 86,000 kids don’t finish school. While there are a range of reasons that happens, the reality is there’s a lot of lost potential in that mix There’s a wealth of evidence that shows keeping young people in education is good for everyone.”

Often, support for our partners comes in forms other than money. This past year we’ve continued to share their stories of education success and have helped advance their important work through advocacy. We were pleased to see recognition for Big Picture Education Australia and National Exceptional Teaching for Disadvantaged Schools in particular, in the national media.

But grant-making and advocacy support is just part of the story. Origin employees continue to extend the important work of our partners through volunteering their time and skills.

Slice of science


Watch here

Engineering redefined



Read Report

Izak Rigney-sebastian


Read more

Dr Ceridwen Boel

JUST DIG IN Dr Ceridwen Boel

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A worrying picture emerging for country students

A worrying picture emerging
for country students

Read more


Participation in Give Time, our volunteer program, has increased by around 10% for the second year in a row, with well over 1 in 3 of Origin’s employees volunteering their time to contribute over 9,000 hours to the community.

Alignment with the Foundation’s focus on education continued to be a priority. School outreach activities were transformed into global citizenship opportunities through real-world examples of humanitarian science and engineering.

Through our partnership with Australian-based charity SolarBuddy, Origin volunteers guided students as they assembled portable solar lights for children living without power in PNG. The lights make it possible for children along the Kokoda Track to study when the sun goes down, using education to break the cycle of poverty.

Together with high school students our volunteers built prosthetic limbs for child amputees in developing countries, and emergency water filters for families in African refugee camps.

Origin’s volunteers provided much-needed guidance through online and face to face mentoring programs, enabling students in a range of disadvantaged circumstances to imagine their path to rewarding employment, with the Beacon Foundation.

Some of Origin’s most highly qualified and experienced STEM professionals worked in partnership with educators to support them in bringing industry-relevant lessons into the classroom in a program run by CSIRO.

In addition to supporting our education focus, Origin’s volunteers contributed to a range of organisations by preparing and serving nourishing meals, packing and sorting food donations, building and renovating homes and facilities, working alongside and playing soccer with some of society’s most marginalised people.

We track our performance through the independently-conducted Australian Philanthropic Benchmark. Over time (2013/15/17/19) the majority of partners have consistently rated our volunteering as “Very Useful”.

The impact our volunteers have in community was celebrated at the annual Workplace Giving Excellence Awards, where we were awarded the inaugural Gold Award for Volunteering / Pro Bono. The judges recognised our program for impact on both employees and community partners, and our independent evaluation.

Lighting up learning



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A helping hand


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Our matched giving program makes it easy for Origin employees to donate to the causes which matter most to them. Employees can give through regular payroll deductions, one-off donations or by supporting fundraising events.

In 2018/19 employees gave $408,349.72 to their favourite causes. When matched by our Foundation $815,206.92 was distributed to Australian charities.

The impact of drought and unprecedented flood events in regional communities particularly touched the hearts of Origin’s workforce, many of whom live and work in impacted areas. Local fundraisers were organised in offices and sites around the country, raising tens of thousands of dollars to help those in need. When matched by our Foundation more than $50,000 was donated to Drought Angels and Rural Aid’s Buy A Bale campaign.

The Foundation’s focus on education and Origin’s corporate emphasis on wellbeing converged in October 2018 when employees put their cycling skills to the test for the Beacon Foundation’s Tour de Office challenge. The event saw 180 Origin employees cycling stationary bikes in major office locations, raising funds for around 200 students from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend Beacon’s High Impact Work Readiness programs.


in matched fundraising
for the community




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In November 2018 we again offered Let’s Count at Work early numeracy training for Origin parents and carers. Facilitated by The Smith Family, the workshops teach parents how to notice, explore and talk about maths in everyday life, to build numeracy skills in their young children.

More than 100 Origin employees attended workshops around the country, receiving tips and tools to help children engage with maths.

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with 94% saying the session was “very valuable” to them as a parent/carer, 99% said they feel better equipped to help their children with their numeracy skills as a result of this learning session and 97% were “very likely” to recommend the workshop to colleagues.

Let’s Count at Work is a social enterprise run by The Smith Family. Proceeds from the workshops, which are delivered to workplaces by experienced educators, help fund The Smith Family’s targeted educational support programs for disadvantaged children.


Our network of Origin Foundation Champions help organise volunteering events and provide advocacy across the Origin business. For their support in 2018/19, we thank:

Adam Alki
Curtis Cocks
Kain Pollard
Sally Owen
Adam Walker
Darren Bailey
Kevin Jones
Sarah Deriche
Alexis Paxinos
Darryn Palmer
Lachlan Boscarini
Sarah Priest
Allison Gwilt
Fiona Doherty
Marco Tarenzi
Sarah Tabuteau
Amanda Burton
Gen Galluzzo
Mariana Jeronimo
Sebastian Tegen-Anderson
Amanda Naidoo
Gracie Dobe
Marianne Gibbons
Sonya Keeble
Amanda Pollard
Harry Patel
Maryam Vahmani
Stuart Osbourne
Ann-Louise Clugston
Helena Lo
Maxine Thomas
Su Wei Tan
Ann-Maree Baily
Illiyah Habib
Melissa Townsend
Tania Carlos
Basia Wronski
Jamie Savage
Michael Ward
Tina Feenstra
Ben St Clair
Janette Lam Sam
Michaela Stanley
Todd Horvat
Brenton Martin
Jess Godfrey
Najla Dedic
Tom Gay
Chantal Martino
Jess Nies
Nicholas Contelli
Valerie Lai
Colette Farkas
Joanna Perez
Oliver Turner
Wayne Andrae
Craig Hornibrook
Joelean Craven
Sabooh Whitelaw