Who we are
The Sabemo Foundation was established in 1999 in memory of Vittorio Moratelli who wished to assist children and young people and made a bequest for this purpose before his death.
Vittorio believed strongly in the importance of education for providing opportunities and a passion for life.
In the early 1950’s Vittorio emigrated to Australia from Italy. He started work as a labourer on building sites and later founded his own company. A chance meeting with Carlo Salteri and Franco Belgiorno Nettis in the lift of Transfield House in North Sydney in 1958 led to the formation of Sabemo as a building and construction company.
The name Sabemo was created from the first two letters of the surname of the three founders Salteri, Belgiorno and Moratelli. The success of the company over 35 years was largely due to a passionate dedication to excellence and the integrity of the man who ran it.
The custodians of the Sabemo Foundation are both Moratelli family members and independent members.
(left to right) Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, Vittorio Moratelli, Bill Leak (the cartoonist) and Carlo Salteri
Grantmaking History and Journey
Sabemo Foundation was founded in 1999 and our focus since inception has always been children aged 0 – 8 years and their families, with a focus on early intervention.
Sabemo does not employ staff and relies upon trustees having a knowledge of the areas in which they make grants. Sabemo keeps a sharp focus upon its grantmaking area as a consequence of the quantum of total grants and the limits of trustee time and resources.
Prior to 2017 Sabemo would typically make six to eight grants each year that would be of one or two years duration. We did however support a number of organisations that had excellent programs for six to seven years. Commonly supported services/activities included:
- Supported community playgroups
- Early learning and ready for school
- Early literacy and numeracy
- Community support and family support
- Low income and migrant communities on the east coast
- Advocacy provided that it never exceeded 10 – 15% of the grant
In 2017 Sabemo reviewed its aims and approach with a selected group of practitioners, its “brains trust”. The review concluded :
- That the circumstances and prospects for children were getting worse not better despite increasing government and philanthropic funding
- That vulnerable families were commonly surrounded by a ‘basket’ of service providers and programs that were overlapping, poorly co-ordinated, expensive and often difficult to access and therefore poorly attended. The effect of this meant the services were poorly attended or utilised by those families who needed them.
- That government had substantially outsourced welfare services to large NFP organisations rolling out programs on a one-size-fits-all and top-down basis, rather than community lead with community buy-in and support.
- That government provided welfare support and services through multiple departments at the commonwealth and state level. These different government services were siloed from each other, had different reporting and success metrics, overlapping territories/regions and often sub-contracted to different NFP service delivery providers.
In response Sabemo changed its focus and grantmaking to:
a. Place based collective impact programs where it supported backbone teams:
i) That gave communities of welfare recipients a voice in what services were needed and how best to deliver them in their community.
ii) Reduced overlap and improved co-ordination between service providers.
iii) Developed community buy-in and therefore attendance/participation.
b. Four-year funding agreements with a light-touch on reporting and feedback.
c. A portfolio approach of two locations at Mount Druitt (The Hive) and Maryborough (Go Goldfields) – one being a start-up (The Hive) and the other established.
These funding agreements ended in 2020/21 as both projects had secured significant further funding from either government or philanthropy.