Future Generation Global is looking to establish partnerships with prevention-focused organisations with ambitious impact growth strategies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that everyone’s emotional health is at risk but none more so than young Australians. Compared with older age groups, young people have experienced high rates of psychological distress, loneliness, educational disruption, unemployment, housing stress and domestic violence and the full impact on them and their future is not yet fully understood. We do know there are serious ongoing costs associated with not being on the front foot of mental health. With 75% of any issue developing before the age of 25, we need to reach young people early and help them to build the resilience, adaptability and coping skills they need to navigate life and the workplace.
Servicing mental health problems once acute will continue as a priority for governments. But as a company with a commitment to social investment and return, we see our greatest opportunity as investing in the next frontier of wellbeing and prevention, aiming to build young people’s resilience and stop mental health issues developing in the first place.
Treating one individual at a time is not enough to not curb the growing burden of mental ill-health, especially when 70% of young women and 80% of young men who need help do not access treatment services. Decades of reform in mental healthcare and steady increases in per capita funding have not reduced the prevalence of mental health conditions, which are increasing among young people. This is despite overwhelming evidence and consensus about the benefits of greater investment in prevention, well-documented as priorities in national and state policies since the First National Mental Health Plan in 1992 and up to the most recent 2020 Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and the 2021 Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Australia has succeeded in steadily reducing the burden of disease of numerous health conditions (infectious diseases, some cancers, diabetes, heart disease and stroke) by focusing on prevention as well as improving treatments. By contrast, primary prevention has largely been neglected in mental health policy and the personal, social and economic impacts of mental ill-health have not decreased in over 25 years. This was the trend before the pandemic.
“Through these partnerships we will provide multi-year funding for partners and additional tailored organisational support.”
There is evidence that mental health conditions are not inevitable, and much can be prevented from occurring, or at least substantially delayed, through a focus on prevention-focused approaches which can be more cost-effective than treatment. Furthermore, investing in wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health has a positive flow-on effect for a range of services including health care, drug and alcohol services, education, child and family services and the justice system.
Philanthropists and corporate givers have long provided ‘risk-capital’ for pioneering new ways of doing things in Australia. For instance, Colonial Foundation’s seed funding in 2001 for Prof. Patrick McGorry’s work on early intervention led to global advances in
the evidence around efficacy, and subsequent proliferation of early intervention programs. Wellbeing and prevention need to be next.
In the seven years since inception, the Future Generation companies have donated $52.9 million, of which, more than $18m has been invested across the mental health spectrum since 2016. Approaching philanthropy as social investment, the Company looked to identify high potential, undervalued areas that would yield strong social returns. In landing on prevention, the Company aims to complement others’ efforts and as private investors, take on risk to accelerate much-needed change.
Founded by renowned fund manager Geoff Wilson AO, of Wilson Asset Management, the success of the Future Generation model is based on our 27 fund managers generously forgoing management and performance fees so that 1% of net tangible assets can be donated to charity. Our focus is on charities that work in the youth mental health and youth at risk spaces, such as ReachOut, Youth Off The Streets, Mirabel Foundation, Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Black Dog Institute and Kids Helpline.
What is Future Generation Global’s vision for young Australians?
Young Australians have a brilliant future, in which they drive their own wellbeing.
In the future, mental health will increasingly focus on optimising wellbeing rather than only treating illness. This will take place within the full social context of everyday life. Approaches will be proactive, person-led and personalised, blending clinical and non-clinical aspects, digital and face-to-face modalities. Mental health and wellbeing will have parity and work in proactive coordination with health, welfare and education systems that safely share and use data to optimise outcomes for people. Mental health and wellbeing will be a comfortable conversation at school, at home and at work. Young people will have the agency, knowledge, resilience and tools to drive their own wellbeing, and access to the right additional care if and when they need it.
At Future Generation Global, we see our role as accelerating the impact of high potential not-for-profits that are innovating, agitating and challenging the status quo to reach this future with young people. As such, we are looking to establish partnerships with prevention-focused organisations with ambitious impact growth strategies. Through these partnerships we will provide multi-year funding for partners and additional tailored organisational support.
We hope to add value by investing in organisations, not just programs which is the predominant approach of donors. So often, charities funnel all donated money directly to the programs interfacing with their end users. Sometimes, it comes at the cost of having organisational systems that allow them to work more efficiently, scale faster, and critically, gather data about what’s working and what’s not. We see value in funding core operations and organisational development, because it strengthens all programs and ultimately, the outcomes for young people.
At its heart, Future Generation is about collaboration. Despite the devastating impacts of the pandemic, it’s been inspiring to see the leadership of the business community rallying around wellbeing, their people and their communities. It’s been inspiring to see the resilience and ingenuity of not-for-profits growing their support for young people in response to their rising needs. The challenge now is how quickly we can scale up this response by bringing them together. We hope that Future Generation Global will attract Expressions of Interest from not-for-profit organisations across Australia positively impacting the wellbeing and mental health of younger generations as they forge their own brilliant future.
Caroline Gurney is the CEO of Future Generation Global.
To learn more visit futuregeninvest.com.au/eoi/fgg/
Sources: Prevention United Consensus Statement, SANE Australia, Everymind, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare