The Cybec Foundation was set up in 2002 as a Charitable Fund, and has been endorsed as an Income Tax Exempt Charity. The Foundation supports the following broad classes of charitable activities:
- Scholarships for gifted students
- Social welfare
- Aboriginal health and education
- Medical research
- Environmental projects
- Cultural activities
- Student accommodation
- Miscellaneous grants
The Foundation concentrates primarily on the endowment of scholarships, and on substantial projects of continuing benefit to the community. If an organisation has a project which it feels may be of interest to the Foundation, it is invited to contact us.
In 1995, when Cybec Pty Ltd first became profitable, the management decided to set aside a percentage of the profits to endow scholarships. The first Cybec Scholarship was established at Trinity College, University of Melbourne.
Since then scholarships have been established in many different fields. The scholarships cover all levels, although most are at the tertiary level. The scholarships are designed to provide gifted students with the opportunity to study in their chosen field. Preference is given to students who would not otherwise be able to continue their studies. Special provision is made for members of disadvantaged groups.
Scholarships are normally administered by the relevant academic institution, and the Foundation plays no part in the choice of candidates, but scholarship holders are encouraged to feel that they are members of the Cybec family.
The Foundation’s social welfare program began in 1999, following the sale of Vet. Since then the Foundation has usually supported one major charitable project each year.
Major projects have included:
Royal Flying Doctor Service: In 1999, shortly before Sally Riordan passed away, Sally and Roger agreed to pay for fitting out a new plane as an aerial ambulance for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. After Sally passed away the Service agreed to name this plane the Sally Riordan. The Sally Riordan was commissioned in 1999, and is normally based in northwestern Western Australia. It has made countless mercy flights to remote communities throughout Western Australia.
The Smith Family: In 2000 the Foundation paid the cost of fitting out a suite of consulting rooms in the Smith family’s new headquarters in Collingwood. These rooms enable the Family to interview its clients in privacy in comfortable surroundings.
Vision Australia Foundation: In 2000 Vision Australia moved its Talking Book Library to its new headquarters in Kooyong. The Foundation provided new digital recording equipment for the Library, and has continued to provide advanced equipment to enable the Library to meet the changing requirements of its clients. In 2004 the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Vision Australia and the Royal Blind Society agreed to amalgamate, to form the Vision Australia Foundation, with the Library at Kooyong now called the National Information Library Service.
Good Beginnings, Latrobe: There is a high unemployment level in the Latrobe Valley, and many families have trouble bringing up their children. Good Beginnings helps these parents to improve their parenting skills, and overcome the many practical problems facing them. In 2001 Good Beginnings lost its government funding, and was in danger of having to close down. The Foundation provided it with emergency funds, and enabled it to carry on until its government grant was renewed. Since 2003 the Foundation has supported a course to teach young fathers to assist their wives after their babies are born.
The Salvation Army: There is a high need for emergency accommodation for young people in many country areas. In 2001 the Foundation paid for six motel-type units in Stawell, owned by the Salvation Army, and formerly used as accommodation for old people, to be renovated to meet this need.
International Red Cross: In 2002 the Foundation paid for the refurbishment of approximately 200 latrines in Herat, Afghanistan, as part of an international program to improve sanitation in that city, in an attempt to reduce the very high infant mortality rate.
Family Life, Community Bubs program: This Organisation operates in the Hampton-Highett area, where a large number of disadvantaged families live in Housing Commission flats. In 2003 the Foundation agreed to pay the salary of a social worker to help young mothers, identified as being at risk, to improve their parenting skills, so that they do not become involved with the Community Health Service. This program has already helped a number of young mothers overcome seemingly insuperable problems. (This organisation was previously called Southern Family Life.)
In July 2007 the Cybec Foundation purchased the disused St Columba’s Anglican Church at Edithvale, and presented it to Family Life, who will convert it into a community center. This will enable them to provide much needed social services in the area.
Aboriginal Health and Education
In 1998 Roger Riordan read Snake Cradle, the first volume of Roberta Sykes’ autobiography. She had been attending a convent school, but when she reached the age of 14 (then the official school leaving age) she was summarily told to leave. This precipitated a whole series of disasters, and it took her many years to retrieve her life. Roger was appalled by this story, and resolved to try to do something to save other aboriginal children from similar suffering. He contacted Roberta, and at her suggestion, in 1999 he endowed the Koiki (Eddie) Mabo Fund at the University of Newcastle. This has in turn inspired several other schemes.
The Koiki (Eddie) Mabo Fund, University of Newcastle: When Roger approached the University, they had just set up a YAPUG program, which was effectively a preliminary year for aboriginal students interested in a career in medicine. In this the students were introduced to the various careers possible in this field, ranging from nurses through to doctors, and the University was able to assess them, and advise them which would be the best course for them.
After some teething problems, the Fund now enables two students to commence this course each year, and continues to fund them if they decide to undertake any of the courses offered in the Faculty of Medicine at Newcastle.
Oodgeroo scholarships, Trinity College: When Trinity heard about the Koiki Mabo fund, it inspired them to set up a scheme to enable aboriginal students to live in the College, while attending Melbourne University. Initially two scholarships were set up, with matching scholarships provided by the University to cover University fees. One of these, the Oodgeroo scholarship, was funded by the Foundation. The success of the initial scholarships led to the scheme being expanded, and now there are about 30 places for aboriginal students, approximately 10% of the residential college, of which several are funded by the Foundation.
Aboriginal Community Elders Service: The Service operates a home for aboriginal elders in North Coburg, and provides an educational service for the local community. From 2002-4 the Foundation paid the salary of a Cultural Liaison Officer to work with the local community.
Good Beginnings, Australia: The aboriginal community in the Alice Springs area has enormous social problems, and Good Beginnings Australia had been working with aboriginal families in the area for some time. In 2002 they approached the Foundation for funding for an experimental program to help aboriginal men who had been in prison return to their families and keep out of further trouble. From 2002-4 the Foundation paid the salary of a social worker for this project.
Indigenous Eye Health, University of Melbourne: This program was established in 2008, in an attempt to alleviate the enormous eye health problems in remote aboriginal communities.
At present the Foundation is supporting three medical research projects. These are:
Baker Medical Research Institute: Causes & treatment of heart disease.
Cabrini Institute: Treatment of cancer patients.
Department of Urology, Royal Melbourne Hospital: Treatment of prostate cancer.
The Riordan family has long had a strong interest in the environment, and the Foundation supports a number of projects for the preservation of the environment. Several of its scholarships also have a strong environmental component. Environmental projects include:
Healesville Sanctuary: In 2000 the Foundation paid for the construction of an annexe to the lyrebird enclosure, to facilitate the handling of the birds, and the provision of services to them.
Pallister’s Reserve: Is a substantial area of farm land north of Port Fairy. It had been partially cleared, and is being revegetated. It is of high environmental significance as a refuge for local native flora and fauna, and is home to many species of native birds, including brolgas. In 2000 the Foundation heard that there was a possibility that an adjacent block of farmland could be added to the Reserve, and offered to pay for it, if a realistic price could be negotiated. Unfortunately this could not be achieved, but since then the Foundation has made a regular contribution to the maintenance of the Reserve.
Ned’s Corner: In 2003 the Trust for Nature was able to acquire Ned’s corner, a large property west of Mildura with a 35km frontage to the Murray River. The property had previously been used as a sheep station, and was seriously degraded, but still represented a very important remnant of the original native flora and fauna. Latrobe University has a campus at Mildura, with a strong emphasis on environmental studies, and was very interested in using Ned’s Corner as a field station for its students. To facilitate this the Trust wanted to convert the homestead, which was rather rundown, into a centre for environmental studies, with working areas and accommodation for the students. In 2004 the Foundation agreed to pay the cost of refurbishing the homestead.
The Bird Observers Council of Australia: In 2005 the Foundation made a substantial donation towards the construction of an Interpretative Centre at the The Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary at Linton, Victoria. It is hoped that the the Centre will be completed in Spring this year. The Foundation has previously made several smaller donations towards the cost of the management of the Sanctuary at Linton, Victoria. This is an old farm, which has been revegetated to provide a permanent sanctuary for native birds.
The Derinallum-Lismore Community Association: To assist in the purchase and management of Mount Elephant. This is an extinct volcano, which had formerly been farmed, but is now being restored as a nature reserve.
The Cydelia Reserve: Is a 160hA block of bushland of high conservation value in the Grampians. It is owned by the Cybec Foundation, and is administered as a Conservation Reserve by the Friends of Cydelia Reserve Inc., an association of interested local residents, and representatives of conservation organisations.
The Foundation allocates a relatively small percentage of its funds to cultural activities. At present it is supporting the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the National Theatre School and the Melbourne Theatre Company.
Australian Youth Orchestra: In 2007 the Cybec Foundation agreed to make a regular Grant to the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Touring Fund, to help cover the costs of the Orchestras regular overseas tours.
In 2012 the Foundation increased its allocation to the AYO to provide scholarships for two participating musicians each year.
21st Century Composer’s Program: In 2003 the Foundation agreed to fund this program, which is administered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, to support young composers. The Foundation has also made significant contributions to the costs of staging several special concerts.
Melbourne Theatre Company: In 2003 the Foundation paid for the MTC to commission Melbourne playwright Joanna Murray-Smith to write a new play, to be performed by the Company. This play, with the title Ninety, will be performed during the 2006 season.
In 2006 the Foundation agreed to support an extension of the existing Hard Lines play development programme, to allow one new play to be given a studio production each year.
In 2008 this in turn was replaced by the Cybec Readings, in which a number of new plays are given public readings each year.
National Theatre Drama School: In 2007 The Foundation agreed to fund a scholarship, to be known as the Cybec scholarship, for a promising young performer in the second or third year of the National Theatre Drama School’s Diploma of Arts (Acting) Course.
Red Stitch Actors Theatre: In 2008 The Foundation became a Major Sponsor for the Red Stitch Actors Theatre in St Kilda.
Medley Hall: the Foundation played a major role in the refurbishment of Medley Hall to meet modern safety standards. Medley Hall reopened in July 2011, and provides accommodation for country and overseas students.
Cydelia House: in 2013 the Foundation purchased a pair of terrace houses at 101-3 Drummond Street, Carlton (just up the road from Medley Hall), which after modernising to meet current regulations, will be used for student accommodation, in conjunction with Medley Hall.