Major philanthropic grant to build a coalition of businesses 'we turn to for help' in the last stage of life.
- The Violet Initiative (Violet) has been awarded a major grant from Ecstra Foundation, a grant making charitable foundation focused on supporting the financial wellbeing of all Australians.
- Violet is designing a future where more Australians experience compassionate, dignified deaths - where their preferences align with their experience.
- Since 2020, Violet has helped more than 5,000 people – a watershed period marked by bushfires, floods and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which propelled a subsequent 10 per cent increase in the rates of complex bereavement.
- “I honestly felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders after speaking with my Violet Guide. I felt at peace with what was to come,” said Janet, 59, who cared for her ex-husband for nine years and found Violet through a banking referral partner.
- Violet is bringing together industry, government and businesses who intersect with the last stage of life to create a coalition of change-makers whose goal is to create a fundamental shift in society – a better end-of-life experience.
Ecstra has awarded Violet a major grant over two years, to scale up The Violet Academy.
The Violet Academy builds capability and confidence to have sensitive and open end of life conversations with individuals and families, easing the emotional burden of conversations regarding the last stage of life and providing a referral option for families in distress.
Inside financial institutions this flagship program provides training to financial services employees, so that they can help caregivers manage the emotional and financial impacts of caring for a loved one in the last stage of life. The project will also collate data and measure outcomes to better understand which cohorts, and how many caregivers experience, or are at risk of financial hardship.
Violet’s workforce training provides staff with increased capability to open end-of-life conversations in a sensitive manner, the ability to refer customers in need to The Violet Initiative and have increased resilience and engagement. This is vitally important given that studies reveal psychological claims in the workforce are rising 15 times that of physical claims, and in areas where workers deal with the last stage of life the impact of moral distress is significant.
“The critical path to scale for social enterprise is typically 5-7 years. Philanthropic investment in the first 3-5 years is essential to developing and delivering products to early adopting and revenue generating customers. Social enterprises like The Violet Initiative need philanthropic investment funding capacity and growth through this critical time. This grant from Ecstra is not just rocket fuel for our product development, it’s the financial backing we need to take action now, as all of us in the community grapple with end-of-life issues in the time of COVID,” says Melissa Reader, CEO, The Violet Initiative
“Ecstra is very supportive of the long term vision of The Violet Initiative, under the leadership of Melissa. Cross sector collaboration is so important to ensure that consumers experiencing financial and emotional stress whilst caring for others are genuinely supported by all parts of the financial and health system,” says Caroline Stewart, CEO of Ecstra Foundation
The Violet Initiative estimates that there are over 50,000 deaths with regretful outcomes every year in Australia - where things don’t go to plan, or there is no plan. This results in real human and economic costs. Violet estimates that regretful outcomes impact the economy by $1 billion, and negatively impact the wellbeing of those left behind through complex bereavement and trauma. However, research shows that the earlier people in the last stage of life, their caregivers and families are supported, the more the benefit.
It’s Violet’s mission to bring support to those in the last stage of life, their carers and families, through increased understanding and acceptance of, better preparation for, and more open communication about the last stage of life. Our key strategic partnerships with Australia’s leading providers, and largest businesses are core to scaling Violet’s reach and impact.
Janet, 59, Sydney, says Violet, “helped me to prepare for what lay ahead.”
Mother, animal lover and artist, Janet, 59, Sydney, spent nine years caring for her then ex-husband, Ian, through the last stage of his life.
Although Janet and Ian were no longer married at the time, they remained close friends. When Janet learned of Ian’s illness, she invited him to come and live with her, so that he was not alone throughout his final journey of life.
This proved a highly challenging time for Janet on many fronts, especially navigating the healthcare system while striving to respect Ian’s last wishes.
Janet learned of The Violet Initiative (Violet) – a social enterprise that strives to build resilience and reduce regretful outcomes for individuals in the last stage of life (due to frailty or terminal illness), and for their caregivers and families – during an encounter with a superannuation professional through a Violet referral partnership.
Today, Janet encourages anyone who is caring for a loved one, to seek invaluable support from the organisation, “Reach out to Violet. Better prepare yourself for the journey you’re on.”
About The Violet Initiative
Violet’s mission is to help Australian’s experience more compassionate and dignified deaths, by offering targeted and complementary, non-clinical support to the professional and informal caregivers for someone in the final stage of life. Violet reduces regret by helping people change behaviour through open acceptance, thorough planning, and effective communication.
Violet provides a unique range of services designed to reduce the burden associated with the last stage of life on caregivers, families, and the healthcare system.
Violet’s core services include:
- The Violet Guided Support Program – comprising multi-session, structured, peer-to-peer conversations by fully trained Violet Guides, focusing on acceptance, planning and communication;
- Violet Academy – workforce training designed to build capacity and willingness for effective, end of life conversations with family, building resilience and easing the emotional burden on staff, and encourage referral to Violet’s Guided Support Programs; and
- Violet Resources – a resource-rich digital library designed to support people, and their families, with navigating the last stage of life.
After 30 years as a traditional charitable organisation, Violet is embracing new life as a national social enterprise.
“Violet aims to facilitate and equip all businesses and relevant parts of the health care and aged care systems to have open and honest conversations around the last stage of life. Being capable of having those sensitive and pertinent conversations in an informed, willing and timely way, and importantly, referring families and caregivers to Violet as part of that conversation, will be a profound step towards improving the last stage of life experience across the community,” says Melissa Reader, Violet’s CEO.
The Violet Initiative retains the organisation’s core proposition, whilst developing the business model from a local model of community support to a scalable social enterprise. This transition has been supercharged by the seed investment from philanthropic partners, The Snow Foundation and The J. O. & J. R. Wicking Trust..
“Philanthropy has an important role to play in providing the risk capital that backs great people and organisations to develop innovative solutions to some of our most important problems. The Wicking Trust was pleased to be one of the philanthropic funders to provide this type of early-stage, multi-year developmental support to The Violet Initiative and we’ve been excited to see the way they are running with this and the response they are getting from the market and the community,” says Grant Hooper, Senior Manager, Granting, Equity Trustees
“When we see a great idea and great leadership, we are happy to provide seed funding and walk alongside our partners on their journey. It’s been wonderful to see Violet grow and evolve, and for other funders to come on board. It’s all about enabling more people to spend maximum quality time with their loved ones in their final months and weeks,” says Georgina Byron, CEO of the Snow Foundation, long-term supporters of Violet.