70 years of impact: Creating a fairer, more equitable community

In 2024, the Give Where You Live Foundation celebrates its 70th birthday.

Established in 1954, the Foundation has evolved over time and undergone three name changes, but what remains true is our commitment to the Geelong community.

In our 70th year, we will be reflecting and celebrating the impact we have been able to make, the generosity of the community who have supported our work and how together we are creating a fairer Geelong community in the future.



The organisation, first known as Geelong & District Community Chest, was inaugurated at a public meeting on 27 April 1954. In its first year, through contributions to the Community Chest, £26,150 was distributed to local community organisations. From those modest beginnings, the Give Where You Live Foundation has grown to an organisation that now invests approximately $2.6 million into the community annually.

In 1954, the Foundation was set up in partnership with the people in the community, ‘as an open and transparent way of extending help and support to those in need and trying to improve the quality of life of those in a small but vibrant city’.[1]

In 2024, the community is still central to everything the Foundation does, and many of the main objectives of our earliest days continue to align with our work today.

As outlined in our 2030 Strategy, the Foundation exists to create a fairer Geelong community. Today our mission is to use all our energy and resources, in partnership with our community, so that all people and places thrive.

In our 70th year, the Foundation has released our latest iteration of our Theory of Change, explaining how and why we expect change to occur and our key priority areas of work to help us achieve our purpose of creating a fairer, more equitable community.

What does a more equitable community mean?

At the Give Where You Live Foundation, we believe that a fairer, more equitable community is one where everyone, no matter their background, address or set of circumstances, receives fair treatment and ample opportunities.

While in recent history much of the Geelong region has experienced strong economic growth, there are some neighbourhoods that do not experience that growth and prosperity in the same way. Conditions of disadvantage are often concentrated in small areas and post codes.

We know many people don’t have equal access to opportunities and resources. There are places where people face higher rates of long-term unemployment, find it harder to put food on the table for their families and struggle to find safe and secure housing.

As our current cost of living continues to increase, the inequalities across our community continue to deepen, with those who were already vulnerable, even more so.

The Foundation recognises that treating everyone the same is not enough. To address inequity, we first need to understand the underlying and often systemic challenges in our community to remove barriers to people and places thriving.

We are all diminished when only some can succeed and thrive.

Much of what Dr James Rossiter said in the ‘History of the first 50 years of United Way’ remains true to our vision today.

“The strength of our society depends on the strength of the individual communities, and we must all work in partnership to achieve a fair and just environment where all with special needs are looked after.” Pg 1x Dr James Rossiter, President, United Way Geelong, A history of the first 50 years of United Way, 2004

To address inequity and create a fairer, more equitable community in 2024, the Foundation has a focus on 4 key areas: food security, homelessness assistance, inclusive employment, and an inclusive economy.

As our CEO Bill Mithen said in the Foundation’s 2022/2023 Impact Report;

“Our ongoing and future work will be to build and support systems that address the urgent needs of people where inequity is consigning them to lives of poverty and disadvantage. We want to continue to support and undertake work in food insecurity, homelessness, pathways to education and inclusive employment.”

The Foundation believes that we must take a whole-of community approach to creating change. For us, that means accepting and implementing whatever initiatives, actions, and support we are best placed to undertake, as well as supporting the community and community sector through our grant funding.

We look forward to sharing more of our work with you as we celebrate 70 years of Impact in our community.

[1] A history of the first 50 years of United Way pg 1