Hello from our Chairman

Gordon Cairns

In this short video, Chairman Gordon Cairns reflects on how our Foundation has been helping young people achieve in education for the past five years.

Hello from our head of Foundation

Sean Barrett

Once again this year we saw that when given access to education children can thrive and turn this into opportunity. In this report you will find stories of young people succeeding.

Such stories convince us that the Origin Foundation's focus on education is making a difference.

The Foundation has a corpus provided by Origin, with total investment income from this corpus distributed to our community partners. The running costs of the Foundation are met by Origin Energy, to maximise the amount available for distribution.

Since inception we have gifted $14.69 million, distributed in the following ways:

As we look ahead to a period of low investment returns we recognise that to achieve maximum impact from the financial resources available we need to tighten our focus.

We will therefore direct our focus into four areas:
Science, technology, engineering and maths education Equality of educational opportunity A stronger community sector Employee engagement
Goal Facilitate greater gender diversity in STEM education. The objective is to increase the talent pool of engineers. Specifically to increase the number of females entering engineering subjects. Support educational attainment by children marginalised because they are Indigenous, or live in rural and remote areas. Increase the professionalism and productivity of the Not-for-Profit sector through provision of training and development. To facilitate engagement in community by Origin employees.
Rationale The Chief Scientist has nominated STEM as critical to future social and economic success.
He has also pointed out the alarming  decline in females participating in STEM.
The Productivity Commission in its report on Deep and Persistent Disadvantage pointed out these two areas. Educational attainment is the key to the future prospects of all children. Aligns with the Federal Government's strategy for a stronger NFP sector, and community business partnerships.  Also aligns with the Community Council of Australia's agenda for creating a more robust sector. Research indicates that employees who are engaged in charitable and community work through their employer are happier, more  productive, and loyal. Skilled volunteering is essential to our Engaged Philanthropy model.

None of these areas are entirely new to the Foundation. We are building on previous experience and paying due regard to the community's emerging future priorities.


For the last three years we have been funding the development by The Smith Family of Let's Count - an early childhood program to introduce children to maths concepts. Evaluation of the program has shown children master and enjoy the subject if given the opportunity.

Equality of Educational Opportunity

We have long believed that educational opportunity should be available to all children. More than 20% of our grant funding goes towards Indigenous education programs. More than 40% of our funding is directed at programs operating in rural and regional Australia.

A Stronger Community Sector

We have funded more than 100 scholarships for current and future leaders in the Not-for-Profit sector over the past four years. We are funding research by the Centre for Social Impact which we hope will demonstrate the positive impact of continuing education and training and shift attitudes within the sector and among funders.

Employee Engagement

The Foundation facilitates community engagement by Origin's people. Through our matched-giving scheme, more than half a million dollars a year goes to a range of charities. Skilled volunteering by Origin people is essential to our Engaged Philanthropy model, and our research shows it delivers worthwhile benefits to our community partners.

We will continue to seek out and support organisations with evidence-based solutions to the challenges in these focus areas. We have commissioned research from recognised academics and researchers to help us better understand these challenges.

Our shift in focus will be evolutionary and take time. We will fulfil all our current commitments to partners even if they do not fit within these new focus areas.

At the end of the day, we remain committed to creating opportunity for young Australians.

Our Grants Program

Since our inception in 2010 we have gifted $14.69 million to help Australians reach their potential through education. We are providing help in the following ways:

Giving young children the best start in life

The importance of education in early childhood is well recognised. Research shows a good education early in life provides a solid foundation for future achievement. It also improves health and wellbeing well into adulthood. Through our support of Good Beginnings, Mission Australia and The Smith Family, we've helped more than 1,000 young children get the best start in life.

In Australia's most disadvantaged communities, one in four children does not have the numeracy skills they need to start school. A child's mathematics skills are predictive of their later mathematics learning and achievement. Children who start ahead in maths generally stay ahead, and those who start behind generally stay behind.

Let's Count is an early mathematics program, created by The Smith Family, to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds develop mathematics skills in their pre-school years. Facilitated by early childhood educators, the program helps parents and carers to build their own confidence in maths, and promote positive maths experiences for their children. It provides fun, practical and engaging ways to notice, explore and discuss maths in everyday family life.

Following a successful pilot in 2011, the program was expanded to 27 disadvantaged communities around Australia, with funding from our Foundation. As part of this expansion, an evaluation of the program was undertaken. Results show that Let's Count has positively impacted on the children, parents and educators who participated. It shows that children who undertake the program are achieving to a significantly greater level than their peers who were not involved in the program, particularly in the most complex tasks.

Read the full report

In Australia’s most disadvantaged communities, 1 in 4 children does not have the numeracy skills they need to start school.

Helping students engage with learning

Students learn best when the subject matter being taught is interesting. Through our partnerships we have helped more than 20,000 students engage with learning.

According to a recent OECD report, Measuring Innovation in Education, "the ability to measure innovation is essential to an improvement strategy in education". Yet it found that most new initiatives around the world are being tried but not evaluated. "Measuring policy impact more rigourously and consistently will not only be cost-effective in the long run, but is also essential for developing the most useful, practical and successful education policy options", it said.

The OECD report coincides with the publication of a three-year study into the effectiveness of the Big Picture model of schooling in Australia.

Big Picture is a different design for school, which still gets students through the numeracy and literacy syllabus. They build curriculums based around the child's area of interest, involvement from parents and making connections within communities where young people can also learn away from school.

The three year longitudinal study, funded by our Foundation, shows this personalised learning is helping disengaged students to not only finish year 12 but successfully go on to further learning and careers.

Conducted by Sydney and Murdoch Universities, the research shows that by doing school differently and reshaping the classroom, Big Picture schools and students are far more engaged, have higher academic performance, higher attendance rates and higher family involvement. 

Read more about the Big Picture evaluation


Supporting teachers is key to students' success

Research tells us that teachers have a huge impact on how well students learn. Students who get the best equipped teachers learn most and thrive. Helping teachers to reach their potential is key to student success.

To date we have supported the development of more than 3,500 teachers across a range of programs.

QUT's Exceptional Teachers for Disadvantaged Schools program takes the brightest student teachers and trains them to survive and prosper in the most challenging schools. So far they have graduated 87 new teachers and almost 90% of them are working in the Queensland schools which need them the most.

With a $2 million grant from our Foundation, QUT is taking their program to universities around Australia, including the universities of Newcastle, New England, South Australia and Deakin, with more to come in future years.

Meet some of the ETDS teachers and students here

Closing the gap for Indigenous students

Indigenous students achieve in education at lower rates than their non-Indigenous peers. Working with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), Indi Kindi, Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy and Gawura, we are supporting programs that close the education gap for Indigenous children.

To date we have helped over 1,000 Indigenous students achieve their potential.

Through their mentoring program, AIME supports Indigenous students through high school at the same rate as the general population.

An independent economic evaluation conducted by KPMG found that AIME students performed better than Indigenous students around the country, and reached levels of school performance close to their non-Indigenous peers.

The report also found that AIME contributed $38 million to the Australian economy in 2012. For each $1 spent on the program, $7 in benefits was generated for the economy.

Meet David, who is proving 'indigenous equals success'


Removing barriers to education for country kids

There are significantly more barriers to attaining an education for students living in rural and regional Australia than those living in metropolitan areas.

There is also far less opportunities open to rural and regional based students than their metropolitan counterparts.

Through our partnerships with the Country Education Foundation and the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal, we've helped almost 13,000 rural and regional students achieve.

Parents are the biggest influence on a child's education

Teachers play a significant role in our children's education, but given schools only have kids for around 18% of their lives between kindergarten and high school, it is parents who are still the biggest influence on a child's educational success.

When parents are engaged with their child's education, regardless of background or income, children generally have better learning outcomes.

Many of our Grant Program partners are working to better equip parents with the skills and tools they need to improve education success for their children, but parents who are juggling busy family and work lives often need support, too.

We recognised that many parents and care-givers at Origin would value the education-related expertise of our Grant Program partners, and so we created a program to share some of this knowledge with them.

Working together with The Smith Family and taking the learnings from their Let's Count program, we developed a workshop for Origin parents, to help them find fun and practical ways to integrate maths concepts into everyday life. Just like early literacy skills, having a basic understanding of maths concepts is critical for success at school.

Origin Operations Manager and father-of-two, Matthew Walsh, said "the program made me realise that numbers, shapes and colours can be taught anywhere. Now when we are in the supermarket, park or in the car we really focus on these things with the kids and they are finding it really enjoyable."

We also ran a series of seminars on the topic of 'what makes a good school', led by education expert and Big Picture director, Chris Bonnor AM. In these sessions Chris addressed many long-held beliefs about schools and provided practical tips on how to choose the right one for your child.

Supporting Australia's brightest talent

We are proud to support a range of scholarships that help young Australians reach their potential, including the prestigious General Sir John Monash Awards.

With the Origin Foundation scholarship in engineering, we're helping some of Australia's most promising young scientists, engineers and Australia's future leaders reach their educational goals.

Helping the non-profit sector improve its social impact

Australia's not-for-profit sector is extensive and operates across most aspects of our communities, providing services and support that are complicated and diverse.

However, there is often little appetite from funders to help the sector improve its performance. And as many organisations in the sector have been established for a community purpose, any improvements to efficiency, effectiveness or funding of the sector could lead to wide-ranging and far-reaching benefits to the whole of the Australian community.

We are helping Australia’s not-for-profit sector progress in a number of ways:

Meet our fulbright scholars

Origin people making a difference

Give Time – our volunteering program

With fully paid volunteer leave, Origin employees donate their time and professional skills to help our Foundation partners.

In 2014, 758 employees gave 4,965 hours to a wide variety of projects, including helping young Indigenous children with their reading, hosting high school industry visits, assisting with bushfire recovery efforts, renovating a rooftop playground, and providing mentoring for disadvantaged teenagers.

In the 2013/14 London Benchmark Group (LBG) reporting period, Origin achieved above benchmark participation in volunteering with 13.8% of Origin employees giving their time, against the LBG average of 12.8%.

Origin environmental scientists and engineers helped bring science classes to life

Give2 – our matched giving program

Through payroll deductions and fundraising, Origin employees give to the charities closest to their hearts and our Foundation matches their donations dollar for dollar.

Thanks to the generosity of Origin's employees, more than $600,000 went to Australian charities in 2014. Employees gave to over 90 different organisations, supporting causes such as cancer research, men's health, and sustainable solutions to poverty.

Against the LBG group average of 3.5%, Origin achieved 3.3% participation for payroll giving alone, with many more employees donating via fundraising events.

Foundation Champions

Across the Origin business a network of committed individuals give their time and support to help facilitate activities and advocate on behalf of our Foundation. Thank you to our Foundation Champions for your support in 2014:

Amanda Pollard

Adam Evangelista

Alan Noble

Allan McElroy

Andrew Reimers

Angela Turnour

Annie Giang

Basia Wronski

Ben St Clair

Bill Balcom

Caitlin Ingle

Catalina Cortes

Catherine Wisniowski

Chathu Gamage

Claire Hicks

Claudia Rodriquez-Larrain

Courtney Wilson

Cristian Bolda

Danielle Seaton

Darren Bailey

David Ey

David Leek

Dee Craig

Dhiraj Bhudia

Ellen Dicks

Emily Brodie

Emily Pham

Erica Bayley

Erin Parnell

Felipe Kovacic

Fran Lawson

Frances Pryke

Frank Becker

Gabrielle Bibby

Gavin Foo

Giovanna Volpe

Helen Ewing

Helena Lo

Hollie Walls

Hugh Cantwell

Hui Bee Low

Huiling Zhu

Ian Baldwin

Illiyah Habib

Jamie Rositano

Janelle Murray

Jenny Dunn

Jody Coker

Jordaine Chattaway

Josephine Peachey

Justine Summers

Kain Pollard

Karen Broder

Karen Townsend

Katrina Nagle

Kellie-Anne Currie

Kelly Bevan

Kevin Loh

Kiera Canavan

Kimberley Selby-Fullgrabe

Lee-Anne Johnstone

Lisa Caruso

Louise Ratchford

Mandy Dunstan

Maria Maratos

Maryanne King

Meagan Sims

Melanie Barr

Melissa Monga

Melissa Townsend

Michael Nezic

Nathon Beasant-Commerford

Quang Ho

Reannon Ryan

Rebecca Clive

Rebecca Martin

Rita Vigh

Robyn Cannizzaro

Roshan Ramoo

Ruben Cardenas

Rudy Oei

Ruzica Baric

Ryan Goostrey

Sarah Brook

Sarah Priest

Sarah Tabuteau

Sarah Tilby

Shari Rankin

Sonya Keeble

Soumya Munagala

Stephanie Luelf

Sunny Katyal

Talia Barnes

Tammy Anne Girgis

Tara Knight

Thomas Gay

Tiffany Redgrave

Tina Wolff

Troy McDonald

Troy Sullivan

Trudi Webster

Vi'Onne Green

Wei Jian Kong

Xenia Goh