Who’s who of investments get behind Timor Leste charity

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A glitterati of industry executives attended the inaugural ‘Legends of Sport’ lunch in Sydney last Friday (May 17), held by the Emerge Foundation that helps Timor Leste. Geoff Lloyd, the chief executive of MLC and long-time Emerge supporter, said the organisation had an important impact on the emerging country, Australia’s near neighbour.

Emerge is the charity formed in 2009 by big-name financial advisors Ian and Marionne MacRitchie. They have gathered up a who’s who of financial types to support their cause, which provides educational and vocational scholarships to the young people of Timor Leste. They train teachers, “barefoot nurses” and also use sport to help in child growth and development.

The program committee includes: Frank Casarotti, head of sales and marketing at Magellan Financial Group, John Price of small-cap boutique Eley Griffith, Stephen Freeborn of actuaries Rice Warner, Steve Newnham of Oakham Grove, Matt Dell of multi-affiliate manager Pinnacle, Laird Abernethy of global manager GQG Partners, Stuart Dunn of Blackrock and organisers Kylie Ann Mayer and Jeremy Cott of Mayhem. Patrons include: Stephen van Eyk, Chris Larsen of Ironbark, Geoff Lloyd and Amanda Gillespie, also of MLC, journalist Mike Taylor, Sally Loane of the FSC and Bronwyn Moncrieff, Zenith head of research.

Lloyd said that of the 350-odd students who have graduated from the teaching program, the majority were women. Coupled with the 400 “barefoot nurses” trained by Emerge and its associated organisations, who go back to their villages to provide medical attention in childbirth and other difficult situations, there was an enormous benefit to the broader community. As is well documented, charities which direct their attention mostly to women produce the greatest benefit.

The sports lunch has replaced the annual ball formerly organised by the Foundation. Casarotti, as chair of the organising committee, said that the event showed that the investment industry “does have a heart”.

Ian MacRitchie said that the investment industry did a “pretty good” job at looking after its own goals and aspirations, and those of its clients. With the Foundation, it had also provided generous support. “We now have had more than 5,000 children involved in our sports program,” he said, as well as the teacher education and nursing programs.

“Twenty years ago, East Timor (as it was then known) voted for independence,” he said. “And then there were terrible massacres. John Howard sent in (General Sir) Peter Cosgrove to restore order… Our barefoot nursing program and our ‘future in youth’ program add a lot to the rehabilitation of the country… As Australians we should never forget the bravery of the East Timorese in the Second World War who fought alongside us against the Japanese. About 40,000 of them died in that war.”

Yet, Timor Leste remains a very poor country. Steve Bracks, the chair of Cbus and former Victorian premier, has done them a big favour by battling the Australian government to win concessions with the Timorese oil field royalties, after many years in the international courts.

John Fahey, another former premier – of NSW – told the Friday sports lunch that Timor Leste had a GDP of about A$3 billion. This compared with the GDP of western Sydney of more than $100 billion. The country, a former Portuguese colony, was one of Australia’s few Christian Asian neighbour nations, he said.

– G.B.

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