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Webinar Series: Advocacy, influencing and impact – how can philanthropy make a difference?

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Event description

In the wake of a seismic shift in the national political landscape, we embark on an important discussion about how advocacy allied with philanthropy can help drive awareness and engage communities to back transformative change. What lies at the heart of this discussion is philanthropy’s historical reluctance to cross a perceived moral line and pursue funded advocacy and influencing.  

In 2013, Australian legislation was refined, deeming funded policy advocacy to be charitable. Consequently, the last decade has seen a dramatic shift in the perception of advocacy, particularly strategic funded advocacy, and its undoubted abilities to heighten the impact of government reform, reshaping the philanthropic lens surrounding advocacy. What we have seen during the election campaign is a window on to what has been occurring across many Australian communities where local fundraising has supported successful advocacy.  

In this webinar, we will explore how advocacy, influence, and impact in Australia has evolved. And we will ask the compelling questions - How have we reached this point and where could philanthropic funding of advocacy take us next?  

To examine this narrative and explore the future of advocacy, influence and impact, we will be joined by Susie Bayes, Head of Community, Climate 200, Alana Johnson AM, The Victorian Women’s Trust Chair, and Steve Michelson, Founder and Director, Michelson Alexander.  


Jack Heath - CEO, Philanthropy Australia
Jack has been a leader of for-purpose organisations for more than 25 years.  He believes there has never been a more important time for philanthropy as we grapple with huge societal challenges and diminished trust in our public institutions.  Jack holds a deep-seated belief in the ability of philanthropy to inspire long-lasting, positive change in individual lives and communities.  He advocates for aligned philanthropy, which is big-hearted, clear-headed and joyful.  

A graduate of the University of Melbourne in Honours Arts and Law, Jack has also undertaken executive courses at Harvard and Stanford universities.  He served in Government as a diplomat, speechwriter, and senior adviser to Federal Ministers, including Prime Minister Keating and Foreign Minister Rudd.  Following the suicide of his young cousin, Jack led the establishment of the ReachOut youth mental health organisations in Australia, Ireland and the United States before serving as CEO at the national mental health organization SANE Australia for eight years.   

Jack sits on a number of advisory boards and committees and has received awards for his contributions in mental health and community service.   He lives in Sydney with his publisher wife Catherine Milne and their dog Fred, and they are parents to Lucy and Jamie. 


Susie Bayes, Head of Community, Climate 200
Susie Bayes is Climate 200's Head of Community, leading the team working with donors and businesses to maximise impact and support for Climate 200 and the community-backed independents it supports. She helped to raise more than $12 million ahead of the 2022 election for the 7 successful candidates and others.

Susie is a purpose-driven partnership and fundraising specialist focussed on systemic change and was previously Guardian Australia’s Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships, funding investigative journalism for impact. She served on the board of the Banksia Foundation for sustainability from 2017-22 and is a purpose-driven mentor and advisor.

Alana Johnson AM, Chair, The Victorian Women’s Trust and founding member and Past President, Voices for Indi 
Alana Johnson was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to women in 2020 and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2018.  

A pioneer of the rural women’s movement, Alana is a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture and a past Rural Women’s Award winner. She was named in the inaugural 100 Women of Influence in Australia by the Australian Financial Review  

Alana is the Chair of the Victorian Women’s Trust and was appointed to the inaugural Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality in Victoria.  

A founding member and past President of the acclaimed democracy project Voices for Indi, Alana is a director of the Community Independents Project assisting the Community Independent campaigns in the recent federal election.  

In 2019 Alana received a Distinguished Alumni Award from La Trobe University. Alana is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Stephen Michelson, Founder and Director, Michelson Alexander
Steve Michelson is Founder and Director of Michelson Alexander. He is a highly respected corporate advisor and political and national campaigning strategist. 

Steve has a diverse background in the private sector, politics and the law and was a key architect in the fight for marriage equality in Australia. 

Prior to founding Michelson Alexander, Steve spent six years as a trusted advisor to the Hon. Bill Shorten MP, then Leader of the Opposition. As Director of Caucus and Stakeholder Relations, he provided advice regarding highly complex policy, political and communications issues, often in sensitive media environments, and built networks with business, media, and the community. 

Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the Australian National University where he was awarded a full CAS Hawker Scholarship, and a Master of Laws at Melbourne Law School where he was awarded the Frank Pinkerton Scholarship. Steve is currently on the committee of Wallara Disability Australia and is a member and avid supporter of the Geelong Football Club. 

Steve thrives in complex stakeholder and issues rich environments. He currently advises several government agencies and ASX companies and is committed to achieving practical outcomes for clients. 

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