As a former Board member and Deputy Board Chair, Dr Sandra Hacker AO has seen firsthand the impact that community philanthropy can make on addressing Melbourne’s social challenges including homelessness.

“Community philanthropy enables anyone to contribute regardless of wealth, and for donations to be distributed to the community over a broad range of areas.”

​As the community foundation for Greater Melbourne, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has been bringing people together from all walks of life and backgrounds for 100 years.

Dr Hacker joined the Board in 2014 and was appointed to the Foundation’s Governance and Nominations Committee and became Chair of the Community Health and Wellbeing Grants Advisory Panel, one of the Foundation’s Impact Areas at the time. She was also Deputy Chair from 2017 to 2019.

“As a board member I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about community philanthropy, to see how granting, even with relatively small amounts of money, could significantly improve people’s lives. I found it an extraordinarily rewarding experience and it was wonderful to be able to share the joy of successful grant recipients.”

Dr Hacker is a psychiatrist in private practice and says the impact of homelessness and difficulty gaining employment can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

“My day-to-day work as a psychiatrist brings me into contact with people with a vast array of social problems frequently arising from their mental health conditions.

“We know that many people who are homeless suffer from mental illness, and that homelessness itself contributes to significant psychological distress.

Further, people with mental health issues often have real difficulty gaining employment.

Preventing homelessness and funding projects that help people gain meaningful employment are important areas for the Foundation to work in.”

Although Dr Hacker joined the Board in 2014, her contribution to the health and charitable sector and her personal philanthropy was well established, and she and her husband Ian Kennedy AM set-up a charitable fund account with the Foundation to support her giving.

“My parents were refugees and felt very lucky to arrive in Australia. Their contribution to their own community and the broader community set an example for me to support people less fortunate than ourselves.

“Being charitable is not simply about feeling good but about being able to contribute and help make a difference where it is needed. I am always impressed by the way in which the Foundation organises its granting, and how the administrative costs are carefully contained. The intellectual rigour associated with all aspects of the Foundation’s endeavours is particularly reassuring.”