On Friday 17th March, a beautiful sunny St Patricks Day, members of the 1889 Bequest Society, and special guests gathered at the Victoria Golf Club in Cheltenham for the second Annual 1889 Bequest Society lunch.
Patron Rosemary Evans welcomed guests and noted the important role bequestors play for the Foundation, including that of using their voices in promoting the Foundation, as she does.
The guest speaker, Julia Edwards, CEO of Entertainment Assist, delivered an inspiring presentation about the work they do in mental health support for people in the entertainment industry, in part thanks to the support they have received from FFV over the years. Funding from the Foundation has enabled Entertainment Assist to grow significantly – from building a fee for service model for their Intermission program (which delivers a revenue stream back to their organisation) and subsequently building online webinars to propel the service through the COVID years.
“Around 500,000 to 700,000 people work with the industry across Australia. So that's five to seven hundred thousand people that don't have HR structures supporting them and underpinning them. So financial uncertainty, casualised employment, obviously, are all factors to mental health.”
“Then we had 2020. And never before have we seen mental health in the entertainment industry addressed as it was through COVID. We had fantastic support from Freemasons Foundation - additional funding allowed us to build online webinar programs. These programs touched on topical issues that we were all dealing with. We all had that fear of COVID coming into our country - financial uncertainty, managing boundaries, the importance of sleep, healthy habits and connecting.”
Through 2020, 11,000 people streamed Entertainment Assist’s services. Julia noted that 536 of these were people from the Freemasons network.
“So that was really important for us that we could give some value back to our partners.”
Julia also talked about the future of Entertainment Assist and the importance of prevention programs (not just crisis response). She said that working with educational institutions and big industry employers is key to embedding these programs.
“So every young Australian that is going into performing arts or technical crew role has the opportunity to learn about mental health and life skills and also understand that when you work in entertainment, you need to be adaptive.”
FFV volunteer, Michael Halls provided an update on FFV’s achievements – from announcing 100 student scholarships, to pledging $500,000 in flood relief funding following the 2022 flooding events in Victoria. Since 2014, FFV has made more than 3,000 grants for projects and scholarships in Victoria and has been the recipient of an anonymous $1M donation.
Michael and Rosemary then made a joint presentation to welcome two new members to the Society.
FFV Chairman Rodney Lavin spoke about his recent visit to Shepparton, Echuca and Rochester, and the terrible flood damage he witnessed. He thanked Geoffrey Thompson and John Glover, both Freemasons from the flood affected areas, for their hospitality and assistance in reaching affected Freemasons to provide some support.
“Since 2014 $17 million has been given to charities. We should all feel really warm in our hearts that we've helped entertainers, help kids with scholarships, helped organisations like Very Special Kids, the Blue Ribbon Foundation, and so many others.”
Thank you to the Victoria Golf Club for a marvellous venue and lunch, and to all our guests, especially the members of the 1889 Bequest Society for your continued and everlasting support of FFV’s work - it's thanks to these members that the Foundation will continue to be able to support vital projects in the Victorian community.
If you are interested in finding out some more information about the 1889 Bequest Society and Freemasons Foundation please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 8535 4780.