Oaktree Foundation's Corporate Study Tour
25 June 2004 at 1:06 pm
Australia’s first youth-run international aid organisation, The Oaktree Foundation is about to embark on a corporate study tour of South Africa to give potential youth mentors an up-close-and-personal look at just what the work involves.
Nine Australians with various business backgrounds will make the trip with Oaktree founder and Young Australian of the Year, Hugh Evans in July and organisers say it wont be a tour for the feint-hearted.
Tour organiser, Lisa Scerri says the aim is to learn more about issues of global poverty and injustice in a tangible way.
Scerri says participants will be shown the Oaktree’s aid and development projects and with this knowledge return home to further promote these projects.
She says that no matter how many starving children you see on TV nothing compares to actually experiencing the poverty of the third world first-hand.
She says it’s their hope that the Study Tour will provide that experience and in turn will generate actions to curb these injustices. And she adds that the tour will be highly challenging and confronting, so as to motivate and empower Australians into action.
Melbourne lawyer, Leanne O’Donnell from Middletons says her firm committed last year to a pro bono partnership with the Oaktree Foundation and Hugh invited her to join the corporate study tour.
The catalyst for the Oaktree Foundation (OT) was Hugh Evans’s trip to a rural community in Natal, South Africa. With a grant from World Vision Australia, Hugh oversaw the development of an educational resource centre and accompanying sports field. Hugh is currently a second year Science/Law student at Monash University in Melbourne.
The Oaktree Foundation believes that access to education is the key to making lasting change in developing communities. All volunteers are under the age of 25.
Others joining the tour are:
– naturopath and tour organiser, Lisa Scerri,
– photographers, Jeremy Hancock and Jay Gunning,
– Glenys Sigley, (wife of 3AW broadcaster Ernie Sigley) a former United Nations worker in New York for ten years,
– chartered accountant, Glen Scott from the Scott Group,
– Kathy McKenzie a neuro-linguistic programming trainer,
– Simon Osborne, a director of the Osborne Walters Group and
– businessman, Garry Lawry who’s daughter is a volunteer in South Africa.
The corporate study tour will include visiting the site of Oaktree’s current project which is the development of a community resource centre in KwaZulu-Natal; meeting with Oaktree’s partners – World Changers Academy & Starfish and exposure to other aid and development projects.
The group will meet Anthony Farr, a former investment banker in London who is the founder of Starfish in Johannesburg.
Starfish was formed in response to the unfolding tragedy of children
orphaned or affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa. South
Africa has the highest number of HIV positive people of any country in
the world. By 2010, HIV/AIDS will kill as many as 7 million people,
leaving 2.3 million orphans in its wake. The target is to support 5% of
children orphaned and affected by 2005, which represents approximately
The group will also visit the World Changers Academy and Sethani Project – which is Oaktree’s pilot project.
World Changers Academy is a rapidly growing outreach program that aims to equip impoverished township teens and young adults with leadership skills.
Lisa Scerri says participants will return to Australia to share their experiences with hundreds of schools, churches and universities to stimulate awareness of third world poverty and the importance of humanitarian aid.
OT hopes that this will provoke many young Australians to become involved in Aid work and perhaps cause a ripple effect that will see thousands more Australians putting their efforts toward reducing 3rd world poverty.
Scerri says this tour will also yield a great organisational benefit in providing OT with well-equipped mentors that will foster other Young Australian Volunteers in positions within the organisation.
A promotional video will be made of the tour to assist in attracting corporate and other sponsors for the Oaktree’s key fundraising event of this year – the Dinners for Life to be held on Friday 10 September 2004 which will be launched by the Treasurer, Peter Costello.
The aim is to have as many dinners across Australia hosted by schools, universities, corporates and churches to raise funds for Oaktree’s projects in one night. The aim is to raise at least $500,000.
Peter Murphy, (the CEO of Levi Strauss) has been mentoring the steering committee of young people organising the Dinners for Life project and encouraging corporates to also become involved.
Murphy says he is very impressed with the work of Oaktree’s founder Hugh Evens and the inspirational attitudes of some young people who can use their middle class social advantage to make a difference in the world.
Organisers will have a website up and running in the first week of July for anyone wanting information on how to host a Dinner for Life. Check out www.dinnersforlife.com.
The Study Tour departs July 3rd. For more information about the Oaktree Foundation volunteering, sponsorship or corporate partnerships contact Lisa Scerri of the planning committee on 03 9817 2965 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .