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Author's Name: Eddy Giacomel
Date: Fri 26 Mar 2021

Support for The Pinnacle Foundation 2021


Vocational Service Director Kay introduced Annie Johnston, WA Committee Chair of The Pinnacle Foundation. Annie is a volunteer with an extensive background in the banking and finance sector. She has completed studies in Social Impact and is passionate about equality within our community and most particularly the LGBTIQ+ community. 

Introduced into Australia in 2009, the Pinnacle Foundation provides educational and vocational support to young adults across the country for whom their gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics have prevented or hindered achievement of their career aspirations or personal development. The vision is to empower young LGBTIQ+ Australians to achieve their full potential, thus transforming Australian society for the better.

The Foundation provides Scholarships to students between the ages of 17 - 26, who are planning to study full-time education at a public or private secondary school (final year) or public institution of higher education in Australia. The study must be for the purpose of gaining an educational or vocational qualification in a profession, trade or the arts. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that because of their gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics, they have been prevented from achieving their academic aspirations.

Scholars are matched with a mentor, who monitors their progress, both scholastic and emotional, and helps them to feel like they belong. They are also expected to give back to the community. Through its program, Pinnacle enables disadvantaged LGBTIQ+ youth to become self reliant, maintain their dignity and give back themselves.

Annie described some of the problems faced by LGBTIQ+ people, including mental health problems, self-harm, avoidance of crisis support services due to anticipated discrimination and being excluded by their families. The factors contribute to much higher rates of suicide; gays and lesbians are five times more likely to commit suicide, while transgender people are up to 11 times more likely to take their own lives.

Annie introduced Anthony, a recipient of a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship. Anthony described some of the challenges of his youth. On top of his parents’ divorce and the difficult circumstances that followed, he also faced illness in his family and the challenges of loss of long term friends, as well as prejudice from the wider community, as a result of his coming out. Anthony was able to come to WA to study medicine, thanks to the assistance provided by a Pinnacle Scholarship. The financial assistance enabled him to purchase essentials for study (textbooks and clothing). Pinnacle also arranged mentors to provide guidance and reassurance in a profession with high stress, long hours and a high risk of physical and mental exhaustion.

The Foundation is reliant on donations, combined with the passionate contributions of volunteers, to deliver its program across the country. It runs various fund-raising activities and receives corporate support from several organisations, including the Commonwealth Bank, BHP and the Bibbulmun Track Foundation.

As part of our Vocational Service funding this Rotary year, and following the RI and RC Karrinyup strategy of Diversity and Inclusion, the Rotary Club of Karrinyup donated $1000 to the foundation.

Unfortunately the video with a special message from the Foundering Patron, Sean Linkson OAM, which Annie wished to show would not load on the evening. View the video now

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