May 17, 2012

125 Years of Giving to South Australians

June 2012

A philanthropic organisation unique to South Australia, established by one of Adelaide’s first landowners, is celebrating a significant milestone in its long history.

The Wyatt Benevolent Institution which has given more than $62 million to South Australians in need of financial assistance made its first grants 125 years ago.

Many people might recognise the Wyatt name but not be aware of the work done by the trust set up by Dr William Wyatt (1805 – 1886). He was one of Adelaide’s first landowners and held a number of government positions in the city. Dr Wyatt set up the trust in his will in 1881 “to benefit persons …… who may be in poor or reduced circumstances”. After his death in 1886, the first meeting of the governors of the trust was held.

The first grants were given in 1887 and the Institution has continued to address the complex issues of financial disadvantage and poverty in South Australia.

Wyatt, as it is now known, is South Australia’s leading philanthropic foundation and has joined with peak national body Philanthropy Australia and local philanthropic foundations to promote the growth of philanthropy in South Australia.

Chief Executive Elisabeth Gazard said that many people on low incomes in SA are now facing greater challenges in managing their households and providing for their family members. In particular, families are facing the increased costs of energy and housing, and when relatively minor events occur, such as the breakdown of the family fridge or washing machine, there is a crisis. Many people do not have skills in household budgeting, others have no capacity to pay their expenses because more than half of their income is required to pay their rent.

Financial management for families on low fixed incomes, poor housing, low rates of educational retention in young people and reduced opportunity to achieve employment for people experiencing illness or disability are issues that Wyatt’s grants programs target.

In particular Wyatt is enabling more people to engage in financial problem solving with trained financial counsellors provided by such organisations as UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide, Lutheran Community Care and Uniting Communities.

Ms Gazard stated that “we are very disappointed that the SA Government has recently reduced funding for services in this area”.

Wyatt is offering opportunities for South Australians experiencing poverty so they can lead satisfying productive lives and participate more actively in the community.

It provides grants directly and through South Australian welfare organisations.