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 10 April 2014

David Morawetz - psychologist, economist, philanthropist - joins our Board

David Morawetz with some of the villagers associated with his 'Women's empowerment, food sufficiency and income generation' project in Cambodia

I believe that everyone is equal. We are all born and die with no choice in how, when or where. But some people have an easier time in life, and some harder. I believe the biggest lottery in life is what country and family you are born into.
Dr David Morawetz, Australia21 Director

Australia21 is delighted to announce that psychologist, economist and philanthropist, Dr David Morawetz, has joined our Board. David has already  worked closely with us over the past few months as an active member of the advisory group guiding our inequality project, and as a donor who helped fund the project (along with the Reichstein Foundation and the ACT Government).

The Social Justice Fund
David says: "When my father, Paul Morawetz, died in 2001, I inherited a share of his estate. It turned out to be more money than I need. It was clear to me that I wanted to use most of this money to do something, no matter how small, to reduce social and economic injustice, and inequality of opportunity. So I set up the Social Justice Fund, which supports projects that reduce social and economic injustice both in developing countries and in Australia.

Philanthropy in developing countries 
David is deeply committed to making a difference to the poorest and most disadvantaged people, but cost effectiveness also matters to him. His first philanthropic project involved the digging of a well to provide an Ethiopian village with access to safe drinking water. It improved significantly the lives of everyone in the community for $10 a head. He believes that funding education for disadvantaged women and girls in developing countries is also highly cost effective and says “When you educate a man you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman you educate a family; educate a few families and you educate a community."  

Philanthropy in Australia
Earlier work as an economist in developing countries honed his desire to make a difference there; but he also notes: “There are Australian Aboriginal communities which are some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world”. In recent years, he has helped to bring an internationally successful youth-led community development program to Aboriginal Australia. Young Aboriginal volunteers are carefully selected and trained to work in Aboriginal communities to help mobilise the local people to achieve their own self-determined goals. Strong partnership is vital if local community members are to back the project from start to finish, and beyond that to long-term sustainability, which is always the goal. The initial Australian trial of this program in a remote South Australian community ensured that the local Aboriginal community was consulted at every stage. “This was quite a change for them, as it was the first time anyone had asked them what they wanted, rather than telling them what they need. This series of conversations built ownership and also participation, which are essential to make the project work.”

David also funds advocacy to allow disadvantaged people to carry weight in the policy debate. In 2012 he supported the Australian Council of Social Service to update six year old data on poverty in Australia. ACOSS's findings that one child in six lives in poverty in Australia sparked an important policy debate. We are hopeful that David's support of our recent roundtable on inequality in Australia will also promote much needed debate on the impacts of inequality and what we can do about it. 

In the midst of all these activities and his professional work as a clinical and counseling psychologist and sleep specialist, David has found time to accept our invitation to become a Director of Australia21, and we are privileged to welcome him aboard.  

Australia21 is a small not for profit organisation which seeks to create new frameworks of understanding about the strategic issues facing us in the 21st century.
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