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A decade of good deeds

A decade of good deeds

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Ten years ago, the HIA Charitable Foundation was established with a mission to fund research to improve the health and wellbeing of those in the residential building industry. Let’s take a look at what has been achieved.

HIA content team

hia.com.au/housing

HIA has a long history of supporting the professional needs of its members and helping them build resilient, successful businesses. In the early 2010s, the Association started to look at how it could support its members in other ways.

‘We all know HIA is a powerhouse of information, but we felt that it was important to build the emotional connection. The National Board of Directors at the time knew that HIA, as an industry authority, was perfectly positioned to raise funds and awareness to help support the health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, of our members, their families, and the wider community,’ says Pino Monaco, current Chair of the HIA Charitable Foundation (HIACF). 

In 2012, the HIA Charitable Foundation was officially established, chaired by Ron Dwyer (HIA National President 2013–2015). With all HIA members invited to show their support wherever possible, it soon became a fundraising powerhouse capable of effecting real change.

Fighting mesothelioma

During the first few years of its operation, HIACF focused on raising money for cutting-edge research into mesothelioma. The asbestos-related disease had begun its deadly march among the builders and trade contractors who had unwittingly worked with the material decades beforehand. ‘With the latent nature of mesothelioma, we knew that the problem would be with us into the future,’ Pino says.

A fundraising campaign, led by the Foundation’s inaugural Committee Ron Dwyer, Terry Jenkins, Brian O’Donnell, Colleen May, Dale Alcock and Shane Goodwin, began. With significant donations to the Foundation by Dale and Jan Alcock and Alcock Brown Neaves, WA Direct, and the donations from HIA members, in December 2013, HIACF proudly donated $400,000 to the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) to support the Whole Genome Sequencing of Mesothelioma Project.

Conducted in partnership with the Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics, this project used genomic sequencing technology to explore genetic changes that occur in mesothelioma tumours. Identifying these changes allows researchers to devise new, targeted treatments and improve patient outcomes.

Thanks to the data generated by the Genome Project, NCARD won a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant in 2014 to continue this research for a further three years. According to NCARD, these national grants are highly competitive, and the funding from HIA made the difference in achieving this success. A vital stepping-stone in the fight against mesothelioma, the outcomes of NCARD’s research will help save the lives of HIA members in years to come.

HIACF’s work has raised more than $1 million
Pino Monaco, HIACF Chair
Beating the blues

HIACF’s next fundraising target was for an issue that has devastated the personal and professional lives of too many HIA members. 
‘In 2015, the Foundation was starting to confront the reality that the construction industry was becoming a hothouse for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, with Australian builders and trades tragically over-represented in suicide statistics,’ Pino says.

‘The numbers were alarming: construction workers are twice as likely to suicide than those in other fields; and industry apprentices are two-and-a-half times more likely to suicide than other young men in their age bracket. Everyone had a story of staff taking their own lives. We knew we had to try and make a difference.’ 

To be truly impactful, HIACF wanted to direct funds into an industry-specific initiative, where support materials and education could be tailored to the needs of HIA members. After much research, HIACF partnered with Beyond Blue, who Pino describes as ‘an empire’ in the mental health space.  

The HIACF Charity Home was built in Perth in 2015, on land donated by Stockland and Dale Alcock Homes providing the building services. Materials and labour were donated by 70 manufacturers, suppliers and contractors. The home was sold in early 2016, and 100 per cent of the profits went into funding the three-year National Suicide Prevention Research and Campaign Project with Beyond Blue.

‘The findings from this research informed the creation of an education program for suicide prevention in the building and construction industry – our Mental Health Program,’ Pino explains.

‘Since our first donation made to Beyond Blue, HIACF’s sustained and tireless work in this area has now raised more than $1 million and, by putting mental health front-and-centre, potentially launched thousands of life-saving conversations.’

Snippet from the HIACF 10-year anniversary
Be part of the change

Under the direction of current Committee Members Robert Griek, Simon Norris, Sean Yeoman and Graham Wolfe, the Foundation’s work is made possible by every HIA member who contributes to fundraising initiatives – silent auctions, gala dinners, awards nights, golf days.

By providing an avenue through which members are encouraged to look out for and support one another, HIACF is fostering an industry-wide culture of care, while also delivering practical, on-the-ground support and life-changing assistance to those who need it.

More information

Visit HIA Charitable Foundation (HIACF) for more information.

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