Our Backstory

They say life is composed of the books we read and the people we meet. They say life is composed of the books we read and the people we meet.

Our backstory

We share this story in the service of others.

Behind every real business, there's a real person with a real story. We'd like to share our story with you.

We believe that investing in the future health and wellbeing of another is an act of service greater than ourselves — and in many cases, it's what makes us human.Drew Browne Founder Unusual Risks Insured Australia

The drive behind Unusual Risks really begun over twenty years ago, in a big city hospital waiting room.

In 1991 I sat in the waiting room of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney after discovering that I couldn’t work 60 hours a week and keep my health as well. I’d just received the news that I needed to be admitted for urgent surgery the next day, to have a growth removed from my throat.

As I sat there, surrounded by vintage editions of the National Geographic Magazine, and people in varying states of ill health and unhappiness...

...a simple black and white postcard caught my eye of a photo of Mother Teresa who became known for her work with the extreme poor in the slums of India’s Calcutta. The caption read, ‘You don’t have to be a saint to do something good’

It was a brochure asking for people who’d be prepared to volunteer their time, learn therapeutic massage and then provide hands-on massage services to people with HIV in palliative care situations at a hospital clinic.

I folded a copy of the postcard into my back pocket to read another time. Weeks later, after my surgery and a great deal of personal loss, I remembered that simple black and white postcard from the waiting room, and so began my journey of doing something good.

After months of practical massage training, health and discrimination awareness education, I began regular weekly volunteering at a hospital with a newly opened HIV/AIDS ward. A year later, after so many deaths, many lessons and a new-found level of respect for the resilience of people labouring under stigma suffering terrible discrimination, I was asked to spend some time at a newly-opened Day Centre for positive people in the western suburbs of Sydney.

Our friend Mrs Patricia Kennedy, OAM

It was at this centre that I met and began my friendship with an HIV Disability Advocate, Mrs. Patricia Kennedy, and her wonderful team of volunteers. Patricia was later to be officially recognised and awarded the Australian government's OAM honour in 2003 for her services to people living with disabilities and HIV. In 2013, she inspired us to create Unusual Risks Insured Australia.

The early days of HIV and AIDS

In the 1990s, the world was just waking up to the reality of HIV and AIDS. It was the social leprosy of its time. Because of people’s discrimination, intolerance and unfair judgments, anonymity, and confidentiality were paramount — so no one knew what I did, who I supported and who I was honoured to care for.

Things began to change

Five turbulent years passed. I've watched amazing breakthroughs in medical treatments. People diagnosed with HIV, when treated early, began to live long and fulfilling lives again. The HIV hospice moved a number of times and later found a more permanent location in Sydney's western suburbs.

Since then, ACON has been well established. The broader community understanding has begun to mature slowly as people realise that the most important issue is the person, not the diagnosis.

For over 20 years now I have worked in the financial services industry in the specialist area of life insurance. I’ve continued to see some businesses move (at glacial speed) towards greater tolerance and understanding, and then to acceptance and celebration of diversity in our greater community.

But there’s still active and passive discrimination in business towards people living with HIV

I've witnessed firsthand the passive discrimination in business towards people who accept and celebrate diversity in others.

  • FM Radio stations who no longer wished to be associated with a brand that celebrates diversity, inclusion and belonging.
  • Companies who made decisions based upon fear and discrimination over facts and transparency.
  • The stigma and fear-based discrimination that so many LGBTIQ ( Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer) people have to deal with daily when discussing their financial position, personal insurance plans and their desire to protect and provide for their families.

Tomorrow, history will judge us all on our businesses and our demonstrated commitment towards acceptance, respect and inclusion of all people - regardless of who they love.  But today the consumer will judge us: and rightly so.

At Unusual Risks Insured Australia, we want to be found on the right side of history

There must always be a respectful room for diversity and the safeguarding of human rights. Honest differences in opinions are never a threat, but bigoted intolerance and selective discrimination have no place in civil society or its businesses.

We believe this is a human rights issue

My interest in human rights started at a young age as I read confronting books about Sociology and Ethics, later the work of Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia and author Jack Donnelly’s Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice.  

In 2009 I became a brand ambassador for a microfinance charity working with the extremely poor in the developing work, without regard to gender, sexuality, race, religion or status.

We believe this is a UN Global Goals issue

Nobody and no business lives in a vacuum.

The 17 UN Global Goals designed to provide a roadmap for governments and businesses to focus their efforts to make the work a better place by 2030. Global Goal #10 Reduce Inequalities, focuses on reducing the discrimination and inequality that often leads to financial and social discrimination.

  • Our doors are open for business and we welcome all like-minded people who need high-quality personal insurance and financial and investment services. We don't discriminate.

Why not make us part of your story today and upgrade to a Specialised Financial Adviser in your corner looking out for your best interests.

Where to now?

  Have questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions.

  Read about a similar situation in our Case Studies.

  Make sure you Browse through our Blog.

  And when you're ready to know if we can work with you? Take our Anonymous Pre-assessment.

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Whatever your situation, we can help you

  • Single

    Age is no indicator of relationship status or financial responsibility.

    • You can be young and starting out or older and established; and both enjoying living the single life.
    • You might be single, single again, sometimes single, single with kids, single with pets or perhaps something a little more complicated.

    When it comes to being single in the LGBTI community, there's really no such thing as average.

    And it's your single life, so live it your way.

  • Partnered

    Sharing life and love with someone can be twice as exciting.

    • You might be partnered, partnered with pets, officially de facto, officially married (yay!), splitting expenses but sharing life, or joining incomes and combining financial lives too.
    • You might be together but living apart, working towards a future with kids, thinking about fostering, adopting, IVF or surrogacy; or perhaps something a little more complicated.

    When it comes to being partnered in the LGBTI community, there's really no such thing as average.

    There's no right or wrong way to live a purposeful life, just what works for you both.

  • Parenting

    For today's LBGTI families, there are no accidental families.

    • You might be parenting and single with kids, parenting solo with kids, parenting and partnered with kids, (yours, theirs and ours), dual parents with kids, co-parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or even adoptive parents of kids with additional needs (just beautiful!).
    • You might be a lesbian co-parenting couple or super involved Guncles or Aunties. You might not even identify with the broader LGBTI community but find yourself a parent in a same-sex relationship, or perhaps something a little more complicated.

    When it comes to parenting in the LGBTI community, there's really no such thing as average.

    However you're doing it, Love makes a family.