Another example of the grants the Foundation making grants in new areas of community concern were made in the 1990s to the Anorexia Nervosa Fellowship of Victoria, now known as Eating Disorders Victoria. This was a newly formed organisation set up by mental health professionals concerned with the incidence of eating disorders. It provided support, information and hope to people whose lives are affected by an eating disorder. It has now grown into an organisation covering a broader scope of eating disorders including advocacy and prevention and early intervention. This is yet another example of how the Foundation was able to recognise the value of supporting the work of smaller grass-roots organisations and the importance to the community.
The first three projects were chosen based on the themes of children, microsurgery and ageing and were granted a total of $25,500:
- Royal Women’s Hospital: a Neonatal Cardiorespirography Unit to detect abnormalities in new-born babies ($5,500)
- The Alfred Hospital: a Carl Zeiss Operating Microscope ($10,000)
- The Mount Royal Hospital: items of equipment necessary to set up a Gerontology Institute, which is now known as the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) ($10,000).
The following year, the Foundation’s Council decided that the entire percentage of funds distributed to hospitals would be devoted to eleven special projects. It was anticipated that the continuation and expansion of the project scheme would provide a more positive approach to helping hospitals and charities. Likewise it was hoped that this new approach would also give a new meaning and drive to the fundraising ability and the development of the Foundation’s activities. The Foundation’s Board envisioned that eventually all distributions would go towards specific projects for both charities and hospitals. Active discussions had already begun on the future policy and direction of the Foundation at that time.
Since 1976, over 600 hospital projects in the form of equipment and materials were funded by the Foundation. These included necessary equipment such as beds, laboratory materials, examination tools, surgery equipment and specialty monitors. But grants were also provided towards emerging technology such as a bionic ear oximeter; a glucose analyser and a haemodialysis machine, these grants were up to $10,000 each.
In 1997, the Royal Melbourne Hospital was provided a major grant of up to $150,000 to establish the Brain Imaging Laboratory in the neuroscience unit of the hospital. More recently, in 2008, the Foundation granted a signature grant of $1.5 million to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre Appeal, which was raising funds to build a specially designed facility for cancer research, treatment and patient-centred care.