History of the Mandala Foundation

The Mandala Foundation was established in 2006, bringing to fruition a vision for an Australian psychosocial support facility for aid workers.

2006-2009: Antares Foundation (Australia)

Our organisation was founded by psychologist Amanda Allan in 2006 with seed funding from the Australian Government (AusAID). Amanda’s PhD research on the psychological adjustment of medical aid workers had led her to the work of the Antares Foundation in Holland, an organisation which similarly provides psychosocial support to humanitarian workers.

Amanda recognised a need for this kind of facility in Australia and, following a highly successful national forum on the topic in 2003, the Foundation was officially established in July 2006.

From 2006 to 2009, we were branded as the Antares Foundation (Australia) and worked to implement a shared vision with that of the Antares Foundation in Holland. Throughout that period, the Foundation was independently governed, financed and managed and operated with a small group of part-time and consultant psychologists led by Amanda Allan.

2009-Present: Mandala Foundation

In November 2009, we rebranded as the Mandala Foundation without change to our original vision and goals. We also attracted increased funding from AusAID at this time.

Mandala continued to receive funding from AusAID on three-yearly cycles through to the end of 2013. In mid-2013, under significant cuts to the foreign aid budget, AusAID announced that it would not renew its funding support of the Foundation for the following year. This position remained unchanged with the election of the Abbott government and further cuts to foreign aid, including the absorption of AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The loss of government funding impacted our staffing capacity and hence our ability to provide the full range of our services. It was necessary to scale back some of our programs, such as our regional outreach and advocacy program in the Pacific and our major annual ‘Vocations in Aid’ forum, in order to continue providing our much-needed core psychological training, consultancy and counselling services. We have maintained our core support services through increased annual service agreements with key aid organisations while continuing to provide discounted not-for-profit rates.

The risk of psychological injury in the humanitarian aid sector remains high. Aid workers deserve to get specialised support from psychologists who understand the unique challenges and risks of humanitarian aid and emergency relief work. The Mandala Foundation is one of a few organisations worldwide who provide these specialised services.

Diversifying our funding base remains a priority to sustain our operations and capacity to respond to the needs of sector. In the meantime, we remain fully committed to providing the same high level of psychosocial support, training and consultancy services to humanitarian workers and organisations.

Major Projects & Events

Since 2006 the Mandala Foundation has conducted a number of forums and conferences for international humanitarian aid managers, national staff of Pacific-based agencies, and aspiring/and early-career volunteers and aid workers, both in Australia and overseas. You can read more about our major projects on the Past Events page.

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