This is the very first letter that we sent out to people we know who gave us support in the initial days of the tragedy of Anika. We sent it out at the start of September 2005. If you would like to get onto our mailing list for news about the foundation and events coming up, please write to us and let us know.
Dear (Friend of the Anika Foundation)
I am writing to you (as a member of a relatively small group of friends, relatives and/or neighbours who supported us during and after Anika's funeral) about 'The Anika Foundation'.
As you know last year we lost Anika just before the major Mathematics assessment for the HSC. It is the most devastating event possible, to lose a child, and it happened to us.
Since Anika's death we have been trying to survive her loss, and have become more aware of how far-ranging the problems of adolescent depression are: from extreme events, as affected us, to issues including psychoses, eating disorders, self harm, lost self-esteem and lifelong ailments of melancholy and suffering. So little is understood about the different causes and implications of these conditions, yet they affect 1-in-4 families directly, and have much wider effects on other people too, including family members, friends, classmates and colleagues at work. Anyone who knew Anika has already been profoundly affected, and those who didn't, will still have a feel for the enormity of what it all means.
The rest of the family, the Board and I have worked together to set up a Foundation that carries Anika's name. It has taken over a year to form an appropriate Board, establish the Trust, and to be granted the Deductible Gift Recipient status from the ATO, along with other approvals. The Board consists of myself as Chairman, and Glenn Stevens (Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia), Professor Philip Mitchell, (Head of the Dept of Psychiatry at UNSW), Crispin Murray (Chief Investment Officer of BT Funds Management), and Paul Brennan (colleague at Citigroup). Jane is the public officer for the Foundation.
A primary aim of the Foundation is to raise a capital base, which will be invested by the financial professionals on the Board to generate income in perpetuity. The Foundation is, therefore, set up in a way that will continue indefinitely into the future. We want to raise funds that would not otherwise be raised, through the connections with Anika in the first instance, but ultimately through functions within the financial industry (the first major one of which we are planning for the middle of next year). This income will be used to fund research into adolescent depression via prizes and grants.
The eligibility range for a grant will be broad, including medical, social and educational research. As the capital base reaches a sufficient level, Professor Mitchell will form a sub-committee covering the 3 areas to advise the board on the advertising of grants and the judging of alternative research projects. We believe that raising funds, managing them and supporting the research process is the most effective and value-adding way for us to proceed; as opposed to trying to become involved in the massive tasks of community services. We will keep you up to date on all activities on the website over the years.
A second aim of the Foundation is to help in the 'education process' itself, by just getting up and doing all of this. Things are beginning to happen on this front now. For many years people have tried to look away from the problems, and this has meant that the whole area has not received anything like the funding and focus that it should. The problem is huge, and arguably one of the biggest medical/social issues that we face today. Some of these issues are set out on the website. Please have a look at the site (www.anikafoundation.com). By standing up and starting this Foundation, which is not easy for us, we are trying to be a part of a process of change. We would like to give you the opportunity to participate too. Your aim in making a donation, however small, should be to help get us started, give us encouragement and to be seen on the website as standing up with us to increase community focus on the issues. The very process of doing so will make a difference.
If you would like to contribute to The Anika Foundation, the ways to do so are set out on the website. You may of course contribute any amount, and we will include your name(s) on a donor list on the website (but not the amount); unless you request us explicitly not to include your name. We just see this as a way to have your name associated with Anika's into the future, because you knew and loved her and/or because you care very much about the issues. You may send a cheque payable to: "The Anika Foundation ATF The Anika Trust" (to the address below). All donations are fully tax-deductible. We will send a receipt by return mail.
Some of you might also have ideas or thoughts about future fund-raising activities, (we certainly do not see the above initial gift idea as the primary source of the fund). Some of you might like to help us in the future, by lending your name or time. You may simply have suggestions about ways to improve what we do. Such thoughts and offers would be very welcome. You may also know of others who would like to participate.
I know the events have been sad and traumatic for everyone who knew Anika, or who knew of her. You can imagine how devastating it has been for everyone within her family. Each day is a new struggle for survival. We can't change what happened. What matters now is how we remember her, and how we might find ways to help young people at the start of a lifelong suffering of depression, or worse, in the future.
The Anika Foundation