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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 11(4)

Sexual and reproductive health and philanthropic funding in Australia

Liz Gill-Atkinson A D , Cathy Vaughan A and Hennie Williams B C

A Gender and Women’s Health Unit, Academic Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.
B Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.
C Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: liz.gill-atkinson@unimelb.edu.au

Sexual Health 11(4) 298-304 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH13204
Submitted: 23 December 2013  Accepted: 19 May 2014   Published: 11 August 2014

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Background: Australia’s philanthropic sector is growing and could support efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH). However, philanthropy is often misunderstood in Australia and there is limited evidence of philanthropic support for SRH initiatives. Methods: We aimed to understand the barriers and facilitators to philanthropic funding of SRH initiatives in Australia. A qualitative approach was used and involved 13 in-depth interviews with professionals from the philanthropic sector, and from organisations and services involved in SRH. Results: Barriers to organisations in seeking philanthropic funding for SRH activities included insufficient resources for writing grant applications and the small financial value of philanthropic grants. Facilitators to seeking philanthropic funding for SRH included a perception that government funding is shrinking and that philanthropic research grants are less competitive than government grants. Philanthropic participants identified that barriers to funding SRH include the sensitive nature of SRH and the perceived conservative nature of philanthropy. Facilitators identified by these participants in supporting SRH initiatives included networking and relationships between grant-makers and grant-seekers. All participants agreed that philanthropy does and could have a role in funding SRH in Australia. Conclusions: The findings of this research suggest that barriers to philanthropic funding for SRH in Australia exist for organisations attempting to access philanthropic funding. Philanthropic organisations could provide more financial support to Australian SRH service providers, as happens in countries such as the United States and United Kingdom. Addressing these barriers and promoting the facilitators could lead to increased awareness of SRH by Australia’s philanthropic sector.

Additional keywords: fundraising, philanthropy, private funding.


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