June 17th, 2020
One of Australian philanthropy’s champions for a more equitable society, Dr Christopher Baker, has passed away in Melbourne after a short illness.
Christopher was widely known for his gentle, generous and wise engagement with social justice. He was most recently the chair of the Inner North Community Foundation, which he joined as a director in 2014. He became the Foundation’s chair in 2016.
“Christopher was passionate about the role of philanthropy in creating prosperous, connected, and cohesive communities, particularly for his community in Melbourne’s inner north,’’ the Board said in a statement. “His life exemplified the values of integrity, generosity, and a commitment to social justice.’’
Christopher had several executive management roles in a 25-year career across the not-for-profit, public and private sectors. He worked in human resources’ roles for the ANZ and took on senior executive roles in HR at the bank’s Melbourne group headquarters. It was during his time at ANZ that Christopher joined The Salvation Army Employment Plus, where he later became chairman, stepping down in 2009.
Christopher left corporate life in 2003 but continued to provide HR and change management consulting while embarking on post-graduate study at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, where he was one of the first students to enrol in the program. He then completed a PhD at Swinburne on charitable bequests in Australia, which is regarded as pioneering research in the subject.
After he submitted his doctorate, Christopher joined the research team at the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, which is part of the CSI at Swinburne. He undertook a range of studies on private giving for public good, including making a significant contribution to the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership’s commissioned report, Giving Australia 2016 He remained a Research Fellow at the ACSIP.
Christopher combined the academic perspective with a practical approach to philanthropy: he helped establish the Swinburne Philanthropy Alumni, was an inaugural donor of Impact 100 Melbourne and established a sub-fund with the Australian Communities Foundation as well as the Inner North Community Foundation.
Christopher was a resident of Brunswick, an inner-northern Melbourne suburb, and he was a long-time member and supporter of local entities, CERES Community Environment Park, the Abbotsford Convent and La Mama Theatre.
“His contributions to philanthropy and the community of the inner north leave a significant legacy and we mourn this loss and send our condolences to Christopher’s family and friends’’ the Inner North Community Foundation board said
Christopher recently established the Magic Pudding Sub-Fund and his family requested that donations in lieu of flowers be made there. The Swinburne Philanthropy Alumni is naming a scholarship – the Dr Christopher Baker Memorial Scholarship – and are seeking donations. There is expected to be a public gathering in 12 months to celebrate Christopher’s life and legacy’
Carol Schwartz AO
Funders: Give Where You Live Foundation and Geelong Community Foundation
For-purpose: Kids Thrive
Award partners: Australian Communities Foundation, Australian Community Philanthropy, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal & Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation.