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

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

It really began over 20 years agoDrew Browne Founder & Senior Advisor unUsual Risks Insured Australia

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. The postcard was 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.

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 governments OAM honour in 2003 for her services to people living with disabilities and HIV. In 2013, she agreed to become the Patron for 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 judgements, 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 passive discrimination in business towards HIV

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

  • Radio stations who no longer wished to be associated with a brand that celebrates diversity
  • Companies who made decisions based upon fear and discrimination over facts
  • The stigma and fear-based discrimination that so many LGBTI ( Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) 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. 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 our human rights. Honest differences in opinions are never a threat, but bigoted intolerance has no place in a civil society.

We believe this is a human rights issue

My interest in human rights started at a young age as I read confronting books by Dr Tony Campolo on sociology and ethics by Os Guinness. Campolo’s favourite charity, Opportunity International, became my charity of choice too.

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

Our doors are open for business and we welcome all like-minded people who need high-quality personal insurance and financial and investment services.

You can browse through our Case Studies here. Make us part of your story today.