Annual Review 2020

We’ve helped more than

Young Australians

Achieve in education!


Welcome to a special edition Annual Report, marking our 10 years of supporting good causes in education. We reflect on the impact that our partnerships have had on real lives, and the difference that Origin people have made to Australian communities, through our volunteering and matched giving programs. We invite you to meet some of the young people we’ve been proud to support along the way.


In this our 10th year, the Board reflected on what has been achieved, and reviewed what should be our charitable purpose for the next period.

We will continue to maintain education as our primary focus. Education is pivotal. It improves a person’s employment prospects and trajectory in life. We are particularly interested in school education and completion to Year 12. Not everyone has to go to university; success can be achieved in other ways, but Year 12 completion is critical.

We will continue to support the charity sector in improving its resilience and effectiveness. Society’s reliance on the sector will only increase in the forthcoming recession.

How we do our philanthropy will remain the same. We will continue with an engaged model of philanthropy which provides financial support, with the added value of practical support from Origin employees volunteering their time and skills. We remain committed to long-term partnerships, which is regarded as best practice.

Although times are currently difficult, we should also reflect on some positive notes.

Over the past 10 years our partners have been able to help an enormous number of young people to use education to improve their prospects in life. You can read about, and see, some of those successes in this report.

The intent of our 10th anniversary was to celebrate the education successes of young people and the work of our partners. The Foundation’s role in facilitating that would not have been possible without the philanthropic vision, and financial commitment of Origin Energy. One of the visionaries 10 years ago was Gordon Cairns, who was the inaugural chair of the Foundation, and this year retires as Chairman of Origin Energy.

I would also commend the support of Origin’s employees. This is their Foundation, they chose education as the focus, and that decision has proven right. They have volunteered their time and given to 700 charities through the Give2 matched-giving program.

And finally, thank you to my fellow Directors of the Foundation who give their time, energy, and counsel for free.


“We remain committed to long-term partnerships, which is regarded as best practice.”

Steve Sargent

Hello from our Head of Foundation,
Sean Barrett

This, our 10th anniversary, has been marred by crisis: bushfires and pandemic. These events are impacting those most important to us as a foundation: young people in education; and our partner organisations helping those young Australians.

Our strategy in responding to natural disasters is twofold: Firstly, in the triage stage, to give limited support. During the bushfires we provided funding to help families in ravaged areas with school essentials. Our volunteers built solar lights for dislocated people living without power. The immediate response to COVID-19 was to enable the development of home-schooling materials for parents and teachers. Our volunteers, working with the Australian Red Cross, made thousands of telephone calls to the lonely and isolated.

Secondly, our strategy is to focus on the recovery stage, and the impact of the event on the latent issues in education. In the pandemic we saw that the latent issue of disadvantaged children being already behind in their education falling further behind. So, we funded the Grattan Institute to look at

You can read more about our responses in this report.

As we look to the next 10 years what worries us is the pandemic-induced recession. We know that young Australians were doing it tough before the pandemic. A recession is going to make it even harder.

Our 10th anniversary celebrates the success of young Australians who have, with the help of our partners, made strides forward. And there are plenty of examples, some of which are mentioned in this report.

The evidence of these successes gives us optimism that the resilience of our partners will mean they will meet and overcome the challenges of the next 10 years and continue to make a positive difference in the lives of young Australians.

Head of foundation

“The resilience of our partners will mean they will meet and overcome the challenges… and continue to make a positive difference in the lives of young Australians.”

Sean Barrett


Through our engaged philanthropy model we provide financial support to education causes, and we also connect the skills of Origin volunteers with the needs of our partners.
The impact of our giving

We asked the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies to help us understand the impact of our engaged philanthropy since our inception in 2010. Their analysis found:

  • 62,725 young people have been positively impacted and 2,924 teachers have benefitted
  • Origin volunteers have supported around 1/3 of these students
  • 3,200 scholarships have been provided to those working in the not-for-profit sector
  • We have provided $22M of financial support to 26 organisations who positively impact students and teachers in early education, primary schools, senior schools and universities.
  • We are a long-term funder. On average our programs are supported for 4.4 years, and 42% of programs have been funded for five or more years
Three areas of focus in education
  • Greater gender diversity in ‘STEM’
    (science, technology, engineering and maths)


    of grant

  • Equality of educational opportunity for Indigenous students


    of grant

  • Equality of educational opportunity for children in rural and regional Australia


    of grant

Distribution of Grant Program funding: 2010–2020
  • 47%

    of programs supported Indigenous students to gain the skills, opportunities and confidence to succeed at school and university.

  • 78%

    of all programs supported were delivered in rural and remote communities.

  • 52%

    of the teachers we support work in rural and regional Australia.

  • 65%

    of programs we supported ran across multiple States and Territories.

Read the full impact report here.

The real stories behind the numbers

To celebrate the success of our partnerships over the past decade, we revisited some of the young people who’ve used education to achieve, often despite the odds. They are young people from remote towns with limited opportunities, are from Indigenous families, have arrived in Australia as refugees, are teachers wanting to make a difference, have overcome childhood illness or simply didn’t fit in at school, and we are proud to have supported them all.

We captured their stories to inspire the next generation of children coming through the education system today and are sharing them through a 10-month social and digital media campaign. To ensure the stories are appealing to our young audience we handed control of the questioning over to children of different ages.

You can view their stories on our website.

New partnerships in FY 2019/20
  • National Indigenous Education Partnership
    This exciting initiative will link Indigenous communities with high-performing schools to open campuses in community. We extended our seed funding for a further three years with a $375,000 commitment.

  • Aurora Education Foundation
    Funding the building of Indigenous education sector partnerships, and delivery of outreach programs in schools over three years with a $450,000 grant.

  • Partnering for Learning
    A major applied research project into school-business partnerships to improve outcomes for young people.

  • Hands on Learning
    Expansion into Queensland of this program which successfully tackles pupil engagement with school. A three-year program valued at $450,000.

  • Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal
    Funding Back-to-School financial support for families. A two-year $250,000 commitment.

  • The Grattan Institute
    Research into back-to-school learning needs as a result of the pandemic. A one-off grant of $100,000.

These partnerships join eleven others in our Grant Program portfolio.

Students supported


Children and young people have been positively impacted.

“The Origin Foundation has made a significant and lasting contribution to building the capacity of the Australian NFP sector, which, ultimately, leads to improved social impact.”

Sam Sayers, CEO of Australian Scholarships Foundation


Communities around Australia have faced significant challenges this year, from drought to bushfires and the onset of a global pandemic.

Through our Give Time volunteer program, 180 Origin volunteers assembled and distributed SolarBuddy lights to bushfire evacuees and impacted communities cut off from power in February.

To assist with short to medium term recovery efforts, we provided an additional $250,000 in funding to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal’s (FRRR’s) Back to School voucher program, to support children returning to school in fire-affected communities.

Feedback received from FRRR’s local community foundations in Albury Wodonga brought this to life. “Following the fires, tourism and local visitation was the potential life-line and economic boost for these areas, however, COVID-19 has seen the virtual lock-down of communities, shutting of businesses and cancellation of local tourism events…The vouchers will have an enormous impact on the students in the bushfire affected communities. Some families lost homes and everything in them. Receiving a voucher/s will mean they can purchase the clothing and equipment they really need. Heading into the winter season will see the need for warmer uniforms.“

Employees also dug deep to support drought and bushfire relief efforts. When matched through our Give2 program, more than $84,000 was distributed to communities in need.

The impact of the global pandemic on education in Australia is being felt most by those already living in disadvantage. We commissioned the Grattan Institute to investigate this impact, to better understand what Australian children will need to catch up from COVID-related school closures and home learning. Their report found that for students in disadvantage, the achievement gap widens at triple the rate in remote schooling compared to regular class. As schools reopen, most students will recover quickly, but disadvantaged students will need extra support to catch up. The Grattan Institute calls for a $1.25 billion recovery package to support the development of in-class measurement tools, a 12-week tutoring program and the expansion of successful literacy and numeracy programs.

To assist with immediate support for families in lockdown, we provided $100,000 to education curriculum experts, Cool Australia to repurpose their teaching resources for parents to use at home, and we curated free, online learning resources for children of all age groups.

Our volunteering program, usually delivered face-to-face, was adapted to a virtual model in light of social distancing measures and school closures. Despite the challenges, employee participation equalled our highest ever, at over 42%.

During lockdowns, 300 Origin volunteers and their families assembled 1,500 solar lights which have been distributed by the So They Can program to children living in energy poverty in Tanzania. According to the SolarBuddy impact calculator, over their 3-year battery life, the lights will impact 7,500 lives and provide an additional 3.2 million study hours.

Origin contact centre volunteers began making regular calls to The Big Issue subscribers at a time when their vendors are unable to make a living by selling the magazine on the streets.

Through our partnership with the Australian Red Cross, over 50 Origin volunteers are making regular check-in calls to vulnerable and elderly Australians living in isolation. Recipients love hearing from our volunteers, reporting “this call was like a breath of fresh air”, and “I am feeling like a little can of happiness".

In partnership with World Vision and Spotlight stores, over 130 Origin volunteers have been using their time at home to knit and crochet blankets for those in need, here in Australia and further afield.

COVID Catch-up report
Read more
Origin families build solar lights for those living in energy poverty
Origin volunteers make COVID Connect calls during lockdown
Origin volunteers knit blankets for those in need

Give Time Volunteering Program

The Give Time volunteering program gives Origin employees the opportunity to donate their time and professional skills to help our partners pursue their important work. The program is focused on genuine community need and outcomes.

Volunteers can participate individually or as part of a team, in skilled and unskilled activities.

Cancellation of face-to-face volunteering in mid-March had an immediate impact. The need for services delivered by our community partners increased, yet corporate volunteering support was all but eliminated as “work from home” was implemented.

The immediate priority was to come up with innovative ways for Origin’s capable and purpose-driven employees to continue to provide support. Collective thinking was fuelled by the challenges of social distancing and produced some remarkable outcomes. Throughout the pandemic, Origin’s employees have enthusiastically embraced opportunities to get involved and continue to donate their time and money to the community. They should be incredibly proud of what has been achieved.

The impact of our volunteering

The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies analysed the impact of our Give Time volunteering program since inception and found the following:

  • 19,800 students have been positively impacted by Origin volunteers
  • 11,400 employees have volunteered as part of the program since 2010
  • 63,581 hours have been spent volunteering for a range of non-profit and community organisations
  • 75% of hours were made up of skilled volunteering for educational causes
  • 26% of hours were made up of skilled volunteering projects
  • More than half of our partner organisations participate in the program, with 53% saying the outcomes of the Give Time program were very valuable to their organisation
  • 84% of volunteers indicated that they were highly satisfied with their volunteer experience
Employees gave their time to support the following causes:

15% of total hours

54% of total hours

31% of total hours

  • Environment
    Charities involved in environmental conservation, restoration and rehabilitation programs.

  • Human Services
    Charities involved in addressing basic needs such as food insecurity, shelter and social inclusion.

  • Education
    Programs for schools, universities and other education-focused institutions.

Read the full report here.

“After volunteering for the Big Issue, I spent the rest of the weekend reflecting and feeling immense gratitude for my lot in life.”

Origin Volunteer

“It felt good to be able to help out those less fortunate than myself and it’s great that Origin gives its employees the opportunity to provide support to the community.”

Origin Volunteer


Our Give2 Program matches donations made by Origin employees to any registered Australian charity of their choice. Employees make regular and one-off payroll donations, support a range of fundraising initiatives, and give generously in response to natural disasters and emergencies.

During financial year 2019/20, over 50% of Origin employees participated in the Give2 program.

Contrary to trends in the broader community, donations by Origin's employees increased 9% from the same period in the previous year, with a matched total for the year of $930,212, over $100,000 more than the previous year.

The impact of our matched giving

Since inception in 2010, the program has contributed over $6.36M to benefit 700 Australian charities.

  • 20% of donors have given more than 10 times
  • 6% of donors have given more than 100 times
  • 2.5% of donors have given more than $100,000
  • Average amount given by each donor since inception is $200
  • On average employees donate a total of $26,500 each month
Employees choose to support the causes which matter most to them:
  • Education enabling equality of educational opportunity and programs encouraging young people to achieve their potential.

  • Environment conservation, restoration, rehabilitation and animal welfare programs.

  • Health research into chronic, acute and life-threatening health conditions and support for those impacted by them.

  • Human services addressing food insecurity, shelter, social inclusion and community support.

Read the full report here.

Give2 Participation


Origin employees participated in FY 19/20


This year we welcome a newly formed group of Ambassadors from across the Origin business to recruit volunteers and help to build awareness of Foundation programs and the work of our partners. We thank the many former Foundation Champions who’ve played a critical role in supporting our programs over the past 10 years.

  • Allison Gwilt
  • Amanda Burton
  • Amanda Pollard
  • Andrew Beckman
  • Andrew Sung
  • Ann-Louise Clugston
  • Basia Wronksi
  • Ben St Clair
  • Britt Furlanis
  • Cathy Shannon
  • Darren Bailey
  • Darryn Palmer
  • Dyllyn Tierney
  • Fiona Doherty
  • George Pearce
  • Graham Blackadder
  • Janette Lam Sam
  • Jess Godfrey
  • Johnson Peh
  • Kain Pollard
  • Karina Asher
  • Kristina Matthey
  • Leroy Sigler
  • Marianne Gibbons
  • Marie Feltus
  • Maxine Thomas
  • Michelle Rajalingam
  • Najla Dedic
  • Renee Flinders
  • Rosy Di Mauro
  • Russell Jeffrey
  • Sabooh Whitelaw
  • Sonya Keeble
  • Su Wei Tan
  • Tayla Giddings
  • Tim Riggs
  • Tom Gay
  • Wayne Andrae