While we still might not quite be ready to admit it, the end of another year is upon us. As is becoming tradition, we wanted to take a moment with you to look back on the year that was.
Now, we’re pretty sure you didn't come here for a laundry list of the collective problems we’re facing right now and so we won’t get into specifics. But, what we will say is that, perhaps like some of you, there were a few moments this year where we struggled to keep the faith. With this in mind, we think it’s particularly important to take this time to reflect on some of the positives from the last 12 months as we, both as individuals and as a community, have continued to kick goals, while supporting each other and our environment. Which is no mean feat! And one we truly think is worth celebrating.
So, here’s your yearly reminder of just some of the amazing impact you’ve helped create by being part of this community. By believing, as we do, in the power of making finance a force for good - for ourselves, for each other, and for our planet.
FINANCE / Mikey
An art-filled first apartment for a Sydney hospo veteran...
After making the move from London to Leichhardt over a decade ago, it’s hard to imagine Sydney’s hospitality scene without Mikey. Now, the Continental Deli front man has put down roots with his first apartment on Gadigal Land in Sydney’s Inner West.
FOR GOOD / Addi Road
While we’re on the topic of food and Inner-West institutions…
As we write this, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t feeling the sting, and based on some of the conversations we’ve had this year, a lot of you are too. The truth is, we’re all feeling the pressure in one way or another. For the home owners among us, balancing budgets against rising interest rates has presented a significant challenge, while low rental vacancy rates have been putting extreme pressure on those of us who rent. The uncertainty around the price of energy and fuel has been a huge source of anxiety for so many, and as the cost of essential household items and groceries continue to grow, to the point that one in four Australians have acknowledged having to skip meals in order to be able to continue to make ends meet.
Earlier this year we were able to make a contribution to Addison Road Community Organisation (Addi Road), who, in addition to performing a range of other essential community functions, have been instrumental in providing cost-of-living relief in our local Marrickville. Through their Inner West based food pantries, Addi Road have distributed over $20,000 in free $10 food vouchers between the months of July and October this year (a 160% increase over the same period last year). And, with every $10 voucher being the equivalent to a $50 grocery shop, that’s more than $100,000 in crucial relief provided at a time of particularly severe food insecurity.
Advocating for additional support, Addi Road CEO Rosanna Barbero points out that although the cost-of-living surge this year has already been hard, difficulties seem to be growing at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, Inner West police have reported a rise in food theft from supermarkets across the area. According to local Councillor Pauline Lockie, ‘what’s really concerning is how closely these rises (in theft) have followed the recent increases we’ve seen in the cost of living’, that ‘there hasn't been the time lag we might normally expect, and that’s because we’re now seeing everything we rely on going up in price at once, and I think it’s tipping a lot of people who were just managing to hold on after a really tough few years over the edge.’
Inflation isn’t only impacting individuals, but equally organisations such as Addi Road that exist as a crutch for us during hard times. With no recurring government funding, the ability for Addi Road to play this role is heavily dependent on donations of food, money, and time. We acknowledge that this might all seem quite doom and gloom-y, but the good news is that places like Addi Road actually exist! A huge portion of their food pantries are stocked with rescued food, so beyond serving the community directly they also have the really important peripheral function of reducing food waste in Sydney – a massive but often overlooked environmental issue. In a time of increased individual isolation and reduced access to social and cultural activities, Addi Road also acts as a hub for community belonging, security, and safety, hosting a range of events such as festivals, film screenings, and art shows. Some of you may already be familiar with the fantastic Marrickville Organic Markets, which are also held on site.
In a perfect demonstration of their widespread impact, earlier this year we saw Addi Road contribute to the delivery of emergency supplies as far as Tonga following the eruption of the volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai. Back at home, they sourced and delivered over 40 pallets of food and bulk goods to flood effected areas in Lismore in partnership with Turbans 4 Australia. Collaborations with Kylie Kwong and a handful of other South Eveleigh precinct restaurants saw the delivery of meals to frontline workers at RPA hospital, all the while championing the #RacismNOTwelcome campaign with the Inner West Multicultural network and Addi Road Ambassador (and let’s be honest, everyone’s favourite football pundit) Craig Foster. In acknowledgement of their contribution to the community, CEO Rosanna Barbero was awarded Newtown Woman of the Year, which she attributed to the work of the entire Addi Road family.
As inflation sits at its highest in several decades and while interest rates remain on an upward trajectory, many of us continue to rely on the support of organisations such as Addi Road. We’re grateful for our community, and in particular groups like this, who motivate and inspire us to learn and take action, and who provide us with the support we need to endure.
Addison Road Community Organisation is located at 142 Addison Road, Marrickville. There is also a Food Pantry at 31 Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Camperdown. Both are open from 12pm to 4pm Monday to Friday.
If you’re in a position to donate or volunteer your time, please consider supporting those in our community who might need a hand. Or, if you’re enduring a particularly difficult patch, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to see how we might be able to help.
FINANCE / Elise + Scott
A classic 70s home with a modern twist for Sydney's donut royalty duo...
When a quintessentially classic 70s house in Stanmore hit the market, Elise and Scott (the dynamic duo behind Valentina's and Grumpy Donuts) jumped at the chance to call it home and fell in love with it - just the way it is.
FOR GOOD / NAIDOC Ball Tickets
From a party house to the houses of parliament…
In a year full of immense continuous injustice, pain and racism, we were grateful for the reminder to shift our thinking and pursue alternative ways to Pay the Rent and support First Nations communities. Ways that are rooted in celebration, not commiseration.
To that effect, earlier this year we were in a position to pay forward a small handful of tickets to the Victorian NAIDOC ball and help bolster an important national celebration that has suffered enormously due to COVID disruptions over the past few years. Our position is that, while it is always important to financially support First Nations-led groups and grassroots organisations working to make racial equity and justice a reality, so too is it important to support avenues for First Nations joy, creativity and celebration.
While NAIDOC is now a time for the celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the celebration itself has activist roots, centred around truth-telling and protests. In 1938, following a large congress (which is now recognised as one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world) the Prime Minister at the time was presented with a proposed national policy for Aboriginal people. Unfortunately, it was ultimately rejected because the Government didn’t believe it held a constitutional responsibility in relation to them.
Fast forward to 2022, and with the election of a new government, we are hopeful for a chance to rewrite this history. Our current system represents the Australia of the past two hundred and thirty odd years but fails significantly to recognise and provide equally for the nations that preceded it. Painfully absent is the constitutional acknowledgement and effective representation of First Nations people and, after two centuries of reduced representation and intentional disempowerment, the opportunity to reinstate a degree of political autonomy approaches in the form of a referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This Voice to Parliament would act as a vehicle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make representations to parliament on matters that relate to them, with respect to social, spiritual and economic wellbeing.
We acknowledge that the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in particular the Voice to Parliament, is not supported in totality by all First Nations people and there are differing views on its effectiveness to provide autonomy and justice for Communities. There are, for example, some very strong arguments that advocate for a Treaty, which would provide a greater degree of autonomy and self-determination. We’re not here to offer our opinion on the intricacies of the issue as it’s not our place, but we do strongly believe that fair representation is imperative to the functioning of a healthy, modern nation. This is a time to listen to those voices that have been historically ignored and intentionally suppressed.
We have seen time and again that the practice of centering the re-empowerment and self-determination of Australia’s original and enduring custodians is the only way forward for a reconciled, more equitable future for the nation. The Uluru Statement from the Heart aims to provide us with a blueprint for that shared future.
Returning to the contemporary iteration of NAIDOC observation and speaking of celebrating Indigenous art, culture and history, NITV recently celebrated 10 years of free to air broadcast in Australia, which is an incredible milestone.
“Stories 65,000 years in the making, exploring and celebrating the oldest living continuous culture on the planet. Having been part of NITV since the beginning, I am so proud of what we have achieved in ten years and I’m so excited by what’s yet to come. NITV is stronger than ever and through SBS is delivering more for our communities, and creating more opportunities for all Australians to connect.” - SBS Director of Indigenous Content and Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr woman, Tanya Denning-Orman
According to Rachel Perkins, Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman and NITV founding board member, one of NITV’s main pillars is to educate and ‘give back the history of the country to all Australians, and give Indigenous people a voice in the narrative of the country,’ helping to change a nation through storytelling. By engaging with Black produced and presented programs, we can deepen our understanding of First Nations people and broaden their reach in a predominantly white media landscape.
Missed out on catching From the Heart of Our Nation, A Celebration? You can watch it here on demand at any time, alongside a pick of the best programs on NITV. For some award winning written journalism click here. If you’re not already across it, we implore you to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full here, and if you’re inspired to pay it forward, why not also consider making your own ‘pay it forward’ commitment as part of an ongoing, yearly NAIDOC celebration?
FINANCE / Maquel + Elliot
A perfectly imperfect beach cottage for two nature-loving scientists...
After outgrowing their tiny Inner City rental, Maquel and Elliot (two scientists working in animal research) were searching for a first home with a unique set of requirements: a secluded place surrounded by the beach and bush, but still within commutable distance to Sydney.
FOR GOOD / Save the Bees
While Maquel & Elliot’s neverending list of plans for their sustainable home includes getting their own beehive, the pair will unfortunately have to wait a little longer for that…
In another year of increasing environmental challenges, there was one event that, given the magnitude of its potential devastation, was remarkably under-reported in the mainstream media: the first ever detection of the bee colony decimating parasite varroa mite in Australia. You might recall that when we donated to Save the Bees earlier in the year, Australia was the only continent in the world that was free of the parasite.
The gravity of the mite’s discovery, however, was not lost on Australia’s beekeeping community. For them, the news that the deadly parasite had finally made it to our shores really was the awful icing on an even more awful cake. During the last few years, beekeeping communities around the country have felt first-hand the devastating and compounding effects of climate change-induced extreme weather events, in the form of prolonged droughts, extreme flooding and the deadly black summer bushfires, the latter of which saw the destruction of over 10,000 hives and at least 2.5bn honeybees in NSW and Victoria alone, pushing 11 of our native bee species to the brink of extinction.
The detection of varroa mite in biosecurity surveillance hives just six months ago at the Port of Newcastle in NSW was yet another devastating blow to an industry and community that was just beginning to find its feet again. Yet even now, with the outbreak labeled as the most significant threat to our honey bee and pollination industries and the fight to control and eradicate the pest still in its critical stages, the story has all but left the mainstream news cycle. Which is why, we’re incredibly grateful for the voices and advocacy of those on the frontline, in particular Simon Mulvany of Save the Bees Australia, whose work we’ve been grateful to be able to support. He has been, and continues to be, a passionate and effective voice for the protection of Australia’s bees and beekeeping communities.
Upon hearing the devastating news of Australia’s first varroa mite outbreak Simon sprang to action, providing the community with updates on the state of the outbreak via the Save the Bees social media accounts. These updates included the sometimes controversial actions that were, and continue to be, taken by government and local authorities as they pursue an ‘eradication’ action plan.
Most notably, a controversial proposed decision to allow commercial beekeepers from NSW to send their hives to Victoria for the annual almond crop pollination was reversed after a successful awareness campaign initiated by Save the Bees and the beekeeping community.
“While they burn billions of bees in Newcastle and apply a poisoning program that will kill wild and Indigenous bees, it beggars belief they will allow the potential spread of the mite to Victoria. After leaving, the almond’s potentially infected hives will be dispersed throughout NSW and Victoria. I am sad thinking of those poor NSW beekeepers whose hives have been destroyed may well be all in vain.” - Simon Mulvany, Save the Bees
As the Founder of Save the Bees, Simon has been building community and galvanising like-minded people to become bee advocates since 2014. His work has encapsulated the literal rescue of over 400 bee colonies by saving them from extermination, as well as tireless advocacy that has seen the successful removal of imported honey from Australian supermarket shelves and Bayers ‘Confidor’ neonicotinoids also removed from sale.
With a heavy focus on education, the Save the Bees website is full of information and resources to help us all play our part in ensuring the widespread protection and appreciation of our bees. Because without bees, there’s no us.
We were grateful to be in a position to be able to support the important work of Save the Bees Australia, and if you’d also like to offer your support, and are in a position to do so, you can make a donation here.
FINANCE / Nicole & Lauren
A light-filled, coastal first home for an award-winning artist and chef…
After making a sea change to the South Coast, Nicole and Lauren (an award-winning painter and hospitality veteran respectively) were ready to step onto the property ladder and secure their first home.
FOR GOOD / The Koori Mail
In keeping with the theme of appreciating the unique and diverse land on which we live, and caring for Country and one another...
Alarmingly, but not unexpectedly, it became clear this year that what have been referred to as ‘once in a hundred year floods’ are in fact now regular occurrences. This new reality isn’t isolated to a single part of the country, but instead has ravaged communities in five states since February. All of this comes after swathes of the east coast were declared a natural disaster zone, many lives lost, and over $1b in damage was recorded in 2021. Bundjalung (Northern Rivers) and its surrounding areas have been hit especially hard multiple times during this period.
The Koori Mail has been at the forefront of the disaster response in Bundjalung, quickly emerging as much-needed leaders at a time of enormous crisis in the community. You might already be familiar with the Koori Mail, they’re a well-established fortnightly national newspaper, independently run (thank goodness) and 100% Aboriginal owned, with its profits being returned to Aboriginal communities. Reporting on the issues that matter to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, alongside cultural storytelling, the Koori Mail provides a voice that’s underrepresented in mainstream media.
“... as a business it [Koori Mail] has a strong 30 year history of self-determining what a Black business is capable of. Those foundations have been the pillars of the Koori Mail Flood Relief Hub - a recovery centre that is community and volunteer run and supported by many, many people around the nation. It’s a great example of what it means to self-determine what rescue, relief and recovery looks like for our communities.” - Naomi Moran, Koori Mail General Manager
Koori Mail, knowing that for the first time in their 30 year history that they would be unable to print a next edition (and two more following that), became a flood relief hub, responding to the local community’s emerging needs. In the months that followed, they coordinated food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations. It was more than three months before Koori Mail received any financial support from the government, effectively doing their job for months.
The success of Koori Mail’s actions in coordinating the major response to climate disasters has called for more Indigenous led recovery action and the creation of a First Nations first responders unit. All the while, the Koori Mail office itself suffered severe damages and loss from the February 2022 floods. They lost their building and entire first floor, which included their office spaces and priceless items, like the entire paper archive of printed Koori Mail editions and an Albert Namatjira original.
In August this year, the Koori Mail announced they had successfully purchased the top suites in the same building, extending ownership to the entire building, furthering an iconic, culturally safe and welcoming space.
"Indigenous ownership, especially Indigenous-owned infrastructure, is so vital to the empowerment of our people. It’s about self-determination, and it’s about the freedoms and rights of our people to make independent decision making," - Naomi Moran, Koori Mail General Manager
While the building is structurally sound, Koori Mail need help to fix the severe damage to the interior and exterior of the building, and in providing adequate office suites for staff to continue full operations and productions. We were honoured to be in the position, by directing funds generated through your loans, to give to them twice this year and further support the incredible, wide-ranging work they do for many communities all around the country.
The Koori Mail is proudly based on the Widjabul Wiabul lands of the Bundjalung nation in Lismore, printing fortnightly to a national readership and sharing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Earlier this year, they were also awarded the prestigious NAIDOC award for Innovation, recognising their life-saving flood response and disaster relief efforts.
If you are in the position to do so, you can donate here to the Koori Mail office rebuild fund, support the Koori Mail by subscribing here, or pick yourself up a copy of their latest edition at any of these news outlets. If you are a builder and/or tradesperson and would like to donate your skills, you can contact General Manager Naomi Moran via email: email@example.com
Once again, we are incredibly grateful to have had the chance to be a part of so many important milestones for our community members this year. And in doing so, be in a position to support some truly inspirational organisations who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place - for all of us.