St Vincent Institute’s ‘Gen Y’ support committee—the Breakthrough Group—has now been in operation for just a little over two years.

“The idea of the Breakthrough Group started in late 2012,” said Mark Sullivan, the Group’s Chair. “David Tarascio, the youngest son of SVI Foundation Board Member Christine Tarascio and a good friend of mine, had been speaking to Christine about getting more involved.

“David was interested in what she was saying about getting younger generations involved in supporting causes and she talked about her work with SVI. David then spoke to me and I guess you could say their combined enthusiasm was infectious, so we had dinner with Christine to discuss SVI and David and I were very struck by the breadth of SVI research.

“You hear of other research institutes or organisations that focus on specific diseases, but the diseases that SVI focuses on are common diseases that any of us could get.

“We spoke to SVI’s Director, Professor Tom Kay and the SVI Foundation’s Development Manager Madeleine Whiting, and they were really supportive.”

The average age of the Breakthrough Group members is 28-40 years old.

“We’re not as focused on donations as other SVI support groups are; we’re more interested in creating awareness of SVI and their work, and hope this leads to longer-term giving from a younger generation.”

“We also didn’t want a huge membership base initially; we have a 5-6 person committee which has slightly changed due to work commitments. Our current committee members include Tim Richardson, who is in property construction; Dr Andrew Deans from SVI’s Genome Stability Unit; Sally Henderson, who holds a senior position at Telstra and whose parents are involved with SVI; and Jessica Carelli, who has her own property and catering enterprises.”

“We see a lot of the same faces coming to the events, which is great. But we’re at a point now in our evolution where we are hoping to attracting more members to help spread the word about SVI.”

“We usually get about 30-40 people per event; we intentionally keep things smaller and more intimate. Usually a committee member will speak, as well as Andrew, which is great, because he can talk about his research and why he chose to do his PhD at SVI. When we can we get Professor Kay to speak as well.

Breathrough Group events include wine tastings, dinners at private residences, themed dinners, such as the Annual Dinner we hold at the Archer Room in the Botanical Hotel in South Yarra, and dinners in the boardrooms of members’ businesses such as the Shadforth Financial Group on Level 48 of the Rialto Building and the SALTA Boardroom.

“We find people like the opportunity to visit buildings they may never otherwise get a chance to see,” said Mark.

“We also held a Great Gatsby screening at the KINO, which 220 attended. This was a larger than average event for us, which turned out to be quite successful. This year we’re hoping to hold another KINO screening event in November—the James Bond Spectre film should attract a large crowd. We might have to go for three cinemas this time!”

For more information contact the SVI Foundation on (03) 9231 2480 or email