Helping families cope with breast cancer with the OCGA Social Justice Grant

In keeping with the strong sense of social justice at Carey, the Old Carey Grammarians Association (OCGA) Social Justice Grant provides an opportunity for OCGs to continue to carry out social justice work beyond their school years. Each year, the OCGA grants up to $4000 to a member of the Association who is personally involved in a project that advances social justice. In 2018, one of last year’s recipients was Richard Burley (OCG 1984) for The OTIS Foundation.

The OTIS Foundation is a national charity which supports the emotional wellbeing of those experiencing breast cancer by providing retreat accommodation getaways for them and their families. The OCGA Social Justice Grant has enabled The OTIS Foundation to donate 53 nights of accommodation at no cost for 15 families. Sadly, for some of these families, this may be the last opportunity they have to spend time with their loved ones.

Old Carey Grammarian Richard Burley is a Director on The OTIS Foundation Board. Richard’s sister Judy passed away from breast cancer in 2000. This unfortunate situation was what drove Richard to hone his skills and reap from his invaluable networks to support change and contribute towards other families suffering in similar circumstances.

Richard reflects on this time as positive outlet to focus the grief of losing his older sister, who found great comfort in natural settings during her battle with cancer. Richard says of Judy, ‘The more time she spent at her rural retreat in the Mandurang Valley, the more she came to appreciate and understand the restorative powers of the Australian bush … It was her wish to establish an organisation that allowed others with breast cancer to have access to the same nurturing and restorative powers that nature offered to her.’

Richard fondly remembers his time at Carey, particularly the sense of community spirit and social justice, and specifically remembers trips to Camp Toonallook. Coincidentally, one of the many OTIS properties is located just 12km from Toonallook in Forge Creek, which last year provided a valuable stay for 30 women and their loved ones. 

This year, over 18,000 women and around 150 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Alongside the significant health effects of this insidious disease, many patients face the unseen toll of both psychological and financial strain. 

Today OTIS has grown to have a national presence, providing access to more than 30 properties and offering 3500 nights to over 800 families each year. Richard looks forward to the next challenges for the organisation, which is now focussed on significant expansion. OTIS aims to grow this support by close to double by 2021.

Every $75 donation enables The OTIS Foundation to provide one night to its guests. You can donate here.

If you would like to be considered for the OCGA Social Justice Grant, visit the OCGA Social Justice page for more information.

Katie Hunt
Alumni and Community Manager