Our Founders and History


Bev Baldwin, OAM, and Dawn Hooper

History – The Why

In 2003 Bev’s 21 year old grand-daughter took her life by suicide after struggling with depression. After working through the trauma of this loss Bev wanted to do something positive.
Bev Baldwin and Dawn Hooper, friends for over 30 years, decided to take action. After a period of grieving and contemplation about how to turn such a tragedy into something positive, and with the intent to help others from ever experiencing such loss, they started the Iris Foundation.

The Name ‘Iris’

‘Iris’ commemorates the name of both Bev & Dawn’s mothers who unselfishly nurtured their children and grandchildren with unconditional love and acceptance.
In flower language, Iris symbolizes hope, courage, and truth/trust.

The Journey

2006 – Bev & Dawn wanted to create something lasting and approached the then Central Community Chest with a proposal to set up a trust. The Iris Foundation was launched with the principal goal of early intervention, critical in preventing suicides among young people. The Founders then conducted a variety of fund-raising activities to reach their first goal of $100,000 as a basis to operate. The main objective at this point was to raise money so that the foundation could be an available resource to the community. Those fund-raising activities certainly reflected the founders’ imagination and resourcefulness.

2012 – the Iris Foundation became an independent charity under the Public Ancillary Fund with a Board of Directors – Barry Abrahams, Chairman; Robert Allen Treasurer; Sue Liptrott Business Development; Bev Baldwin Community Development and Dawn Hooper Secretary.

2016 – the Iris Foundation was granted DGR1 status as a Public Benevolent Institution and this opened opportunities for funding and service delivery.

Currently – Over the past six years Iris Foundation has delivered in excess of $350,000 of resilience based programs into our community and local schools.

Our first in-school program for preadolescent students at risk, Cool Connections (9-12yrs) ,was developed in 2016. Our Programs and Workshops have since expanded and have demonstrated consistent improvements in participant confidence and peer relationships.

The Foundation has a proven track record of delivering and facilitating programs and activities that reduce suicide by fostering hope, connection and resilience. In 2022, Cool Connections in School was granted accreditation against the Suicide Prevention Australia Standards, 1st edition. At this time, we also trained staff to deliver the accredited Resilience First Aid, a newly introduced initiative Australia wide.

Iris Foundation is dedicated to enhancing each and every person’s ability to survive and thrive. Our work is focused in the area of primary prevention of suicide, mitigating problems before they escalate. Whilst much has been achieved in suicide prevention over the past years, we are still experiencing an increase in mental ill-health and suicidal distress.

Current unease in the local and world economies is a strong contributing factor to stress and anxiety. Added to this, on a local level, droughts, bushfires, floods and coronavirus have had an immediate impact on the community both financially and mentally.

To make a real difference we seek to engage meaningful partnerships and involvement from our entire community. Primary prevention of suicide needs to take priority in an effort to, not only alleviate the cost to our community of treatment of mental health disorders, but most importantly to give hope, strength and wellness to our young growing generation.