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Changemaker  |  Governance

Building Homes for Homeless Youth

5 March 2018 at 8:34 am
Luke Michael
Wendy Brakey is the general manager of the Property Industry Foundation, a charity for the property and construction industry. She is this week’s Changemaker.

Luke Michael | 5 March 2018 at 8:34 am


Building Homes for Homeless Youth
5 March 2018 at 8:34 am

Wendy Brakey is the general manager of the Property Industry Foundation, a charity for the property and construction industry. She is this week’s Changemaker.

Brakey started in a voluntary role with PIF in 2009, coming from a background in interior design.

PIF’s mission is to work with charities to provide support and service programs to assist at-risk and homeless young people within the community.

Through the support of the property and construction industry, PIF looks to help the 44,000 young people who are homeless in Australia every night.

PIF has invested $6.5 million into vital programs, and helps its charity partners to rebuild the lives of young people.

Funds raised also go to the PIF House Program, in which the industry builds houses for homeless youth.

In this week’s Changemaker, Brakey discusses why PIF was formed, details the generosity of the property and construction industry and outlines how a charity sailing day helps raise vital funds for the foundation’s mission.   

How did you become involved with PIF and what is your background before joining the foundation?

I’ve been involved in a leadership role in a voluntary capacity with the Property Institute Foundation since it was first set up here by the board of advisers in Melbourne around nine years ago. My background is in interior design and I worked as a consultant in interior design for a number of years, before deciding to have a break. And then the opportunity came up to help set up the foundation here in Melbourne, which I did and I’m still here nine years later.

Wendy Brakey

Wendy Brakey.

Why was PIF formed and how does it address youth homelessness?

PIF was set up in New South Wales 20 years ago and it was set up to provide a philanthropic arm for the property and construction industry. So the mission of the foundation is to work with charities to provide support and service programs to assist at-risk and homeless young people within our community.

How do you decide which charities PIF will support?

The charities we support need to prove to us that they can provide sustainable and long-term programs and support to at-risk and homeless young people through the programs that they run… that is our mandate.

You hold an annual charity sailing day event, can you tell me about this event and what you try to get out of it?

So we started doing the sailing event here in Melbourne nine years ago. It’s a real community event actually, we invite our corporates to attend, and the members of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club donate the yachts for the day. We bring along some young people from our charity beneficiaries, to give them an experience that they would never have had before, to actually go out and sail on the water.  

Our event patron John Bertrand comes along and spends time with the young people, talking to them about sailing and what they’re going to feel when they go out on the water and what to expect. This year we have two Olympic medalists from the Rio Games attending with us as well. It’s designed to be a fun day on the water but the underlying reason for the day is so that we can raise funds and we’re hoping to raise $100,000 this year. And at this stage we are on target to do that.  

PIF sailing

2017 PIF Charity Sailing Day.

Do you face many challenges working as general manager of PIF?

We’re actually very lucky with the support we get from our industry. Our industry is very engaged and supportive of what we’re doing as a foundation and I guess we can leverage within our industry via the donation of time, services and goods. Our PIF House Program actually relies on our industry getting behind us to support us via pro bono services.

So with an event like the charity sailing day, we will use the funds raised for the PIF House Program. Through the industry, we will call on our supporters to donate time and supplies to enable us to leverage our dollars raised with pro bono services or in-kind goods. This allows us to achieve a very cost effective outcome of the build of a house for our charity beneficiaries to provide a home for homeless young people.

Is the property industry generally very generous and supportive of the work that you do?

Oh absolutely. We have great support through all areas of our property and construction industry. Of course we could get more support but those who do support us are very generous with their time and the time of their staff and donate many goods as well.

We reach across all areas of the property industry from consultants within the building industry, to builders, through to lawyers, accountants, service providers for the industry, building owners and real estate agents. There’s a whole range of organisations who make up our property industry.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are away from work?

My husband and I love to travel, so we do like to get away on holidays or mini-breaks with weekends away. We love entertaining with friends and family and love to get some exercise in along the way.

Do you have a guiding principle that supports the work that you or the foundation does?

For me personally, I absolutely believe that every child and young person deserves the right to live in a safe environment and have the opportunity to be happy and succeed in whatever they choose to do. And I’m very fortunate that I’m able to achieve this in various ways through my role with the foundation.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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