The de Boer family

A life punctuated by emotional and physical abuse defined the childhood of Ellenor de Boer. Growing up on a farm in the Western Districts of Victoria, she very quickly began to believe that her traumatic home-life was in fact, normal. It wasn’t until Ellenor reached adulthood, that she realised the depression she was living with was as a result of the abuse she suffered.

“I have struggled emotionally to keep my head above water most of my life but when my father died all hell broke loose in the family and I needed help to cope,” Ellenor said.

“In the past I had dabbled with alternative therapies which helped to a degree, but this time I decided to go to a psychologist. I was so appreciative of the help I received and it made me realise that seeking assistance from a professional who had properly documented research to draw on and share with others was the correct decision to make.

“I always knew I was going to leave my money to research into mental illness as I don’t have any children and I wanted to benefit the community in some way, just as my Grandparents and Father did for their communities.

“Since becoming involved with Deakin, I can see what an enormous asset it is to Geelong and the surrounds, the work that is done through IMPACT, with professor Michael Berk and his team of psychologists is exactly what I want to support so that I can be part of something larger that could help save people from going through some of the struggles that I have been through.”

Ellenor’s husband Ron de Boer is similarly disposed toward the philanthropic ideal, and shares her desire to support research into mental illness and eye research as well as Robotics and Mechatronics, which his son is currently completing his PhD in at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds Campus.

“Deakin, through the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander AO, has been a contributor to Geelong’s growth, economically and culturally where we hear little from other institutions. I have seen this with the investments in smart manufacturing and in organisations like the Geelong Symphony Orchestra,” he says.

“For both Ellenor and I, the thought of being able to help people, young or old, with mental health issues is close, especially to Ellenor’s heart, but also to mine,” he says.

“Our reality is that we did not want to Will our money to some sort of esoteric research never used and forgotten about. We wanted it used so it would benefit the community, both locally and internationally, if possible.

So we needed an organisation that is reputable and accountable and after learning more about Deakin, we realized that it fitted this criteria, it also happened to be part of the Geelong community where we live and also gave both my children Madelyne and Nicholas, the opportunities they needed to learn in their chosen fields of study.”