According to a 2002 survey by peak body Philan-thropy Australia, only two percent of grant givers fund lesbian and gay needs. It’s a statistic members of The Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia hope to change.

My experience has been that we can’t rely on heterosexually oriented or mainstream organisations to appropriately and relevantly respond to GLBTI issues, Chris Gill, interim chair of GALFA, told Sydney Star Observer.

The history of legal reform and health service reform on gay and lesbian issues in particular has been of us doing it for ourselves. And this is now fairly clearly also the case with philanthropy, Gill said.

The new organisation is doing it for itself, but with a little help from its friends. Gill said GALFA has joined forces with The Lance Reichstein Foundation, after learning the philanthropy group was seriously considering gay and lesbian issues.

Together they invited Nancy Cunningham to an all-day planning session last weekend. Cunningham, the co-convenor of the US Lesbian and Gay Funders’ Network, will also speak at a public forum tonight in Melbourne.

Despite the group being a young organisation with few resources, Gill said it will cover gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex projects and groups. The group will eventually be national.

We’ve done some research about different models of gay and lesbian philanthropy, including Aurora and the ALSO foundation in Victoria, and we’re developing also a memorandum of understanding on how we can work together on issues and not tread on each other’s toes, Gill told the Sydney Star Observer.

We’re firmly of the view that the more choices that are available for donors and applicants, then the more likely it is that the net assets that can be directed to gay and lesbian issues can be increased.

Inquiries about GALFA can be directed to Chris Momot of the Reichstein Foundation on (03) 9650 4400.

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