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Dear Friends and members of The Gawler Foundation community,

In my last correspondence to you, I began with the quote, “There is nothing permanent, except change.” 2020 was a year that tested our resilience as individuals, families, communities and organisations. It has been a source of profound inspiration to witness people come together to help each other negotiate and endure the tumult of the pandemic and the associated challenges it has presented. I wish you all continuing support and compassion as we enter what we hope will be a year of recovery and renewal.

The above quote continues to resonate as The Gawler Foundation Board considers how best to guide and steward the Foundation through this most challenging of times. In December, I shared with you that the Board was developing a strategy to renew the Foundation. While our passion for and commitment to the purpose and mission of the Foundation remains undiminished, we also hold the responsibility to respond to emerging challenges and business realities.

The pandemic has severely impacted the operations in our Yarra Valley retreat facilities. Understandably, people have been less inclined (or unable) to attend our retreats during the pandemic. Furthermore, under COVID-19 regulations, we have been required to reduce the number of people attending individual retreats. As a non-profit organisation, The Gawler Foundation relies heavily on the income from our retreats and this reduced participation has placed enormous strain on our finances. The Board has explored multiple options for sustaining our Yarra Valley operations. None of the options enable us to serve our community through the Yarra Valley facility while sustaining the Foundation into the future. It is clear that the current environment makes it unsustainable to keep the Foundation’s Yarra Valley operations running in their current form. For this reason, The Gawler Foundation Board has made the decision to cease operations in our Yarra Valley retreat centre.

Our first priority has always been to serve you, our treasured community. This has been a deeply challenging decision that we, as a Board, have made reluctantly and only after deepest consideration. One of the most difficult aspects of ceasing our Yarra Valley operations is the impact on our team. For much of last year, with some assistance from the Government through JobKeeper, our staff made significant sacrifices to keep our Yarra Valley operations running. United by a commitment to the values of The Gawler Foundation and a love for our community, they have been an integral part of the wonderful energy and care The Gawler Foundation gives to our community. I wish to publicly acknowledge and thank our team for their extraordinary efforts in this difficult time.

The Gawler Foundation Board is working through the process with our staff to cease Yarra Valley activities by the end of March 2021. It is our intention to honour retreat bookings up to this date. In the event that the scheduled retreats do not proceed, we will refund the payments to our community.

While current commercial circumstances require us to cease operations in our Yarra Valley facility, that does not mean that the purpose and mission of The Gawler Foundation is no longer relevant. The Gawler Foundation are the pioneers of integrative medicine and have helped many thousands of people in their journey to wellness. The principles Ian Gawler first promoted four decades ago are now widely accepted across the community. The work of The Gawler Foundation is more relevant than ever and the need for such services will only grow – not only for Cancer, MS and Parkinson’s but also mental health and wellbeing. The Gawler Foundation Board is currently working through options to determine the future of the Foundation beyond the closure of the Yarra Valley facilities. In the interim period we aim to have a continuous presence on site to keep the premises secure and maintained.

Many of you have been very generous donors to The Gawler Foundation. On behalf of the entire Gawler Foundation community, I sincerely thank you for your generosity and hope that you remain committed to The Foundation as we navigate this period. Again, it is our intention to find a sustainable model to continue at least some of the work of the Foundation as may be possible.

I understand that some of the news I have shared will be upsetting for many of you as our Yarra Valley facility holds a special place in our hearts. Please rest assured that The Gawler Foundation Board is making every effort to create a new future for the Foundation in a spirt of partnership and renewal. We are open to suggestions and introductions to individuals and like-minded organisations. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Michael Grigoletto, our Executive Director, if there is anything you wish to share. He can be contacted at . We will, of course, stay in touch and keep you apprised of our progress.

On behalf of The Gawler Foundation, our community, staff and facilitators, I sincerely thank you for your support and commitment to the work of The Gawler Foundation. Finally, I wish you and all those precious to you a 2021 of peace, healing and renewal.

Live Well, Be Well

Neelesh Mehta