How RACV’s Community Foundation gave back in 2019

Clynton and Haydn having coffee

Sue Hewitt

Posted January 17, 2020

How RACV Community Foundation’s $751,000 of grants helped not-for-profits in 2019.

Although they are generations apart, retired butler Clynton and medical researcher Haydn are true mates sharing a unique history.

For Clynton, 77, his new friendship eases his social isolation as an elderly gay man who has lost many contemporary mates, while Haydn, 30, sees his pal as a trailblazer for the LGBTI+ community.

They met through a unique program for elderly and isolated LGBTIQ+ people run by Melbourne charity Switchboard Victoria.

RACV’s Community Foundation gave a $150,000 grant to Switchboard to expand its “out and about project” which pairs isolated and elderly LGBTIQ+ people with young volunteers from the community.

This charity is one of 14 not-for-profit groups which shared in $751,000 of foundation grants ranging from $11,450 to $150,000 in 2019 for projects to combat social isolation.

Foundation chairman Graeme Chipp says social isolation has a negative impact on the lives of many Victorians and their communities.

“Many of these programs are making a positive difference for Victorians experiencing loneliness by helping build new skills and creating a sense of belonging and purpose with others in their communities,” he says.

Clynton and Haydn in tuxedos

Retired butler Clynton and medical researcher Haydn are true mates.

Growing old and lonely was a sad future for Clynton until he met Haydn. “I have a reason to live now,” Clynton says. “[Haydn] is a truly compassionate young man.” 

Clynton is a church minister’s son who married the daughter of another pastor, despite being gay. The couple adopted children but eventually split up amicably because Clynton says he was afraid of shaming his family if his identity was found out.

“In those days you could go to jail [for being homosexual]. There were raids on clubs, arrests, discrimination and more,” he says.

Haydn admires Clynton and other LGBTIQ+ elders as pioneers. “They are important trailblazers who sacrificed a lot for the rights we enjoy today,” he says. 

Research reveals elderly LGBTIQ+ people are often forced ‘back into the closet’ and feel compelled to hide their identity when they are moved to nursing homes with strangers, according to Switchboard chief executive officer Joe Ball.

The program is unique because all the volunteers are from the LGBTIQ+ community so are compassionate and understanding when visiting the community’s isolated elders and engaging them in regular LGBTIQ+ events, Joe says.

“We think of the older people of our community as elders, people who went before us, trailblazers who won the rights we enjoy today,” Joe says.

Since the RACV Community Foundation was founded in 1997 it has donated more than $5 million to more than 500 community organisations. RACV members can make tax-deductible donations over $2.

Not for profit group sitting on bench

14 not-for-profit groups shared in $751,000 of RACV Community Foundation grants ranging from $11,450 to $150,000 in 2019 for projects to combat social isolation.

2019 recipients include the following organisations:

  • STREAT social enterprise cafes, which train and support vulnerable young people in hospitality, received $100,000 toward supporting trainees transitioning to work.
  • Little Dreamers, which supports young carers who are isolated, received $130,000 toward programs for kids who care for their parents or siblings.
  • Anam Cara House Geelong is establishing a day hospice service in Norlane and received $11,450 toward volunteer recruitment and training.
  • Umbrella Dementia Cafes received $24,200 to open a cafe on the Mornington Peninsula for people living with dementia and their carers.
  • Cire Services received $18,808 for a program to help dads in the Upper Yarra region who are the primary carers of their children.

A full list of 2019 recipients can be found here.