Partner profile: Ray and Margaret Wilson Family Foundation  

Former Hawthorn Premiership player, high school teacher and businessman Ray Wilson and his wife Margaret have committed to funding Our Place Carlton for a decade.

The funding has enabled Our Place to employ three Community Facilitators who are skilled at building relationships and play a critical role connecting families to services, education opportunities, and each other.

Our Place Carlton is located near the public housing towers and supports many children and families who come from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Supporting Our Place is a deeply personal commitment from Ray, who grew up in social housing with his family in the 1950s.

Despite his family’s challenging circumstances, his parents were able to value and prioritise his education, which Ray acknowledges as ultimately leading him to carving out a successful career and now legacy through his foundation.

“I wouldn’t say it was by luck – I guess I had enough natural academic ability – but not everybody who had that still managed to find a way out,” Ray said.

The focus on the early years is a core element of the Our Place approach that Ray sees as vital. He also strongly advocates for parents being involved in their child’s education and learning and believes community hubs based at schools can help connect parents together. He sees parental involvement in the form of adult engagement and learning, one of five core elements in the Our Place approach, unique in a government school education and a real gamechanger

“Family involvement, and then that early year intervention, really getting the foundations right, is key and this is Our Place, what it’s trying to achieve.”

Ray Wilson

Ray says he is pleased to there is growing evidence that the Our Place approach is gaining traction, as the approach itself is becoming more accepted by government. This is evidenced by the fact that there are 15 hours of government paid preschool available to every child in the state and there are 50 new early childhood centers that have recently been committed to, he said 

 “The change this could have on how our governments physically build schools and early childhood centers is huge. This a live example on what the role of advocacy and philanthropy can have on the wider system, the data and evidence base Our Place is gathering in terms of impact and outcomes is telling the story,” Ray said.