SODEXO, a company specialising in ‘quality of life’ services, donated $32,000 to Australian Foodbank’s Key Staples Program – ahead of World Food Day on October 16 – to help the hunger relief organisation feed more than 652,000 people per month.

Foodbank’s world-leading Key Staples Program proactively sources and manufactures essential food items such as meat, pasta, flour and rice with the help of Australian businesses.

The demand for these staple ingredients is outstripping supply, hindering Foodbank’s ability to provide nutritious meals, meaning 65,000 people are being turned away every month due to lack of food relief – and 17,550 of them are children.

Sodexo Australia chief financial officer and country president, Mark Chalmers, said his organisation was “very humbled to help Australians in need and we couldn’t be more grateful to support such an innovative program”. 

“Ending world hunger is one of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, which forms part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 Corporate Responsibility Road Map,” Mr Chalmers said.

“As a global company, it’s a collective goal we’re committed to achieving,” he said.

“Globally, Sodexo serves 100 million consumers every day, so we understand the importance of the staple ingredients required to prepare nutritious meals.”

Foodbank Australia chief executive officer, Brianna Casey said the organisation was thrilled to partner with Sodexo to help achieve their target of 50 million kilograms of food and groceries to vulnerable people each year.

“More than 3.6 million people experience food insecurity at some point every year, with one in five Australian children facing the same struggle,” Ms Casey said.

“The demand for food relief is rising, with charities reporting a 10 percent increase in demand last year. There is a real need to provide staple ingredients to these charities so they can be used to help put nutritious meals on the dinner tables of those in need.”

Foodbank’s Key Staples Program works by partnering with companies such as Sodexo Australia to supplement the gap between the amount of staple foods rescued and what is needed by the charities and community groups to provide filling and nutritious meals.

To address this, Foodbank partners with food companies who donate or subsidise the ingredients and services to produce, process, package, and transport essential items. 

Building on the Sodexo’s entire ecosystem – employees, families and friends, clients, consumers and suppliers – Sodexo’s Stop Hunger program has built a model of partnership between public and private partners with a unique potential for action.

Sodexo’s Stop Hunger program engages 427,000 Sodexo employee volunteers in 41 countries, contributing 100 percent of donations to NGO partners. Globally, Sodexo’s Stop Hunger program supports 1,200 NGOs and associations in the field.

“We’ve enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Foodbank Australia, spanning five years through our Stop Hunger program and we’re proud to continue our relationship in funding the Key Staples Program,” Sodexo’s Mr Chalmers said.

“By working with Foodbank, we are well placed to achieve our Better Tomorrow 2025 commitments. We encourage other corporate companies to support Foodbank and its Key Staples Program, as we can only stop hunger by working together and taking positive actions today.”

Mr Chalmers said the partnership was part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 strategy, the company’s roadmap for the next stage of its corporate responsibility journey covering issues ranging from stopping hunger to reducing waste and increasing gender diversity.

In Australia, Sodexo employs a diverse workforce of more than 5,000 people to deliver a unique array of over 100 integrated services lines including: catering, facilities management, concierge services, security, asset maintenance and hospitality services in the segments of Corporate, Healthcare and Seniors, Education, Government and Justice, and Energy and Resources both on and off shore.

Founded in Marseille in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo is a global leader in services that improve ‘quality of life’ – seen as an essential factor in individual and organisational performance.

Sodexo is in 80 countries and is ranked the 19th largest employer worldwide with a total of 427,000 people.

For more information in Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025: https://www.sodexo.com/home/corporate-responsibility.html

For more information on Sodexo’s Stop Hunger program: http://www.stop-hunger.org/home.html

For more information on Foodbank’s Key Staples Program: https://www.foodbank.org.au/want-tohelp/ donate-food/key-staples-program/

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GRAND PLAZA Shopping Centre in Browns Plains, Queensland – managed by Vicinity Centres – has found differentiation in its proud community heart and is focussed on giving back to its customers.

Local community groups are utilising Grand Plaza as a base for assisting the community and local volunteers are now part of the ‘Friends of Grand Plaza’ initiative.

From Rural Patient Health Care to the local Marsden State High School, The Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA), the Logan House Fire Support Network and more, Grand Plaza works with charities and institutions around Logan to help support its economically and culturally diverse customer base. 

At the heart of this is the ‘Friends of Grand Plaza’ initiative – a collective of about 30 individuals whose tireless works have been publicly celebrated by the centre and who now work in unofficial ambassadorial roles for Grand Plaza – hosting workshops and facing public relations campaigns.

“It’s been a tremendously rewarding initiative for us,” Grand Plaza centre manager Martine Coorey said.

“Not only has it allowed us to really interact and connect with the local community, it has also created a feel-good aspect that differentiates us from other shopping destinations.”

Further to this, Grand Plaza has utilised a retail space for a dedicated community hub – a free room that can be booked for anything from mother’s meetings to book clubs, not to mention the centre’s ongoing workshop series available to all members of the public both young and old.

In this way, the centre has been able to morph successfully into a valued community destination – ensuring customers not only maintain a strong communal tie to Friends of Grand Plaza but also to the centre’s retailers, Ms Coorey said.

www.grandplaza.com.au

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By Mike Sullivan >>

WILDLIFE Queensland is reaching out to form Conservation Partnerships with businesses that have sustainability in their DNA.

The plan is to form a high-level Foundation Conservation Panel of business leaders who are passionate about protecting Australian wildlife and preserving vital habitat. 

The Wildlife Conservation Panel will assist Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (Wildlife Queensland) members to raise funds and support – both monetary and in-kind – for a range of crucial programs across Queensland.

A role on the Wildlife Queensland Conservation Panel is expected to both accelerate the work being done and bring news of this work to a much wider audience – including the networks of the businesses involved.

The approach Wildlife Queensland is taking aims to help Conservation Partners to develop and publicise their brands’ engagement with vital Queensland conservation projects. There are also opportunities for partnering companies to champion the engagement of their staff – and perhaps some customer networks – in certain closely-organised projects.

Business Acumen magazine is assisting Wildlife Queensland by promoting and publicising business engagement with conservation programs and research projects, in alliance with Wildlife Australia magazine.

“Wildlife Queensland will provide Conservation Partners with custom reports for their boards and for annual reporting to staff and shareholders – as well as planned public relations exercises,” Wildlife Queensland state president Peter Ogilvie said. “Of course, being part of our outbound communication strategy will add tremendous weight to your brand and greatly help our causes.

“For over 55 years we have been synonymous with the conservation and protection of wildlife throughout Queensland. Our vision is for all people to value, respect and support the conservation of our unique fauna and flora.

“To do this we need help. We need like-minded organisations that see the future of our flora and fauna as more than just words. That’s why we are confident that with the right business leaders and companies forming our Foundation Conservation Panel, we can greatly accelerate our vital programs.” 

HIGH PROFILE PROJECTS

Wildlife Queensland is conducting many of the world’s most innovative and successful wildlife conservation programs, often in conjunction with university researchers.

For example, the Wildlife Queensland Platypus eDNA survey is closely watched by researchers and conservation enthusiasts around the world, and is being already credited with improving the health and growth prospects for platypus populations in the Brisbane region.

For this project Wildlife Queensland teams take samples of water from creeks and analyse the content for platypus DNA. This project has been running for three years, but is an expensive one, requiring solid funding. For example, a sample analysis for platypus DNA is $160 per site and Wildlife Queensland teams sample over 70 sites each year.

Wildlife Queensland is seeking to step up the program again in 2019, if it can secure business support.

Another pro-active project that needs more financial support is the Nest Box Monitoring program.

There are more than 200 nest boxes across South East Queensland that are regularly inspected for wildlife – using a pole mounted video camera. The nest boxes are a more secure habitat to assist breeding for many species – and the young of gliders, possums and birds are often discovered. Wildlife Queensland is looking for support to expand this project by installing greater numbers of nest boxes as habitat for hollow-dependent native fauna.

Survey locations include the Redlands, Larapinta and Caboolture at present and much of this work is conducted in alliance with university placement students.

A project well known in conservation circles but so far not generally publicised is the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN), which aims to plant thousands of vines along bush corridors that link breeding grounds for the spectacular Richmond birdwing butterfly species.

Right now, Wildlife Queensland is engaged in two vital parts of the RBCN corridor project in Logan and the Samford-Woodford area.  The ambitious program is planting a large corridor of the Richmond birdwing butterfly’s host vine between Tamborine Mountain and Mount Cotton, and from Samford to Woodford. The butterfly requires this vine to lay eggs as an essential part of its breeding cycle – and both the vine and the butterfly are listed species. The RBCN project involves a wide range of people as thousands of vines will be planted on private land, public land, in school grounds, conservation partnerships properties and with the help of garden clubs, catchment groups and bush care groups.

“We know we can’t save the planet on our own – but by teaming up we can go a long way towards saving Queensland’s wildlife,” Mr Ogilvie said.

www.wildlife.org.au

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SMALL BUSINESS operators have been urged to take as much care of their mental health and wellbeing as they do of maintaining cashflow and serving customers.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has published online resources and links to raise awareness of wellbeing issues and warning signs.

Continue reading

AUSTRALIAN satellite telecommunications provider Pivotel has partnered with humanitarian group Internet for Humanity to provide communication hardware and 2G internet access to remote communities in Uganda.

With a population of 41 million people – but only 5 million having internet access – the partnership in Uganda aims to increase internet connectivity for those living in poor communities, helping improve frontline services including healthcare and education. 

Pivotel executive director Robert Sakker said while the focus in Australia was on faster communications like 4G LTE and high speed NBN, millions of people in countries like Uganda have no access to a computer to gain knowledge or communicate with others, or even know how to send an email.

“We are committing over $13,000 of hardware and more again in ongoing services in the first phase of our partnership, which continues a 10-year relationship already valued at over $130,000, thanks to our newly acquired satellite data business, Global Marine Networks (GMN),” Mr Sakker said.

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By Jim Algie >>

There is a hyperactive humanitarian organisation – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – working at high speed to prevent outbreaks of disease around the world and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. With the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the alliance has launched about 350 vaccines. But Gavi regularly finds itself in a race against time and this innovative organisation could do with more help, especially from business leaders across the Asia-Pacific region.

WHEN a yellow fever outbreak occurred in Angola about 18 months ago, a dozen Chinese nationals working there brought the virus back to China, where the mosquito that carries this virus, as well as dengue fever, is common all across Asia.

Had the scourge not been contained, up to three billion people could have been infected with this viral serial killer.

In this digital age of globalisation, where business people and travellers cross time zones and borders at jet speeds, potential pandemics like this are growing threats.

Stockpiling vaccines to combat such diseases as cholera, ebola and meningitis is one of the main aims of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. 

Recently, this public-private partnership announced a new US$85 million drive to support typhoid conjugate vaccines.

In a statement, Gavi board chair Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, “This disease has long been eliminated from most industrialised nations, but it is still a serious threat in developing countries where the vast majority of deaths occur. 

Gavi vaccines have helped save 640 million children worldwide.

“I lost my cousin and nearly lost my son because of typhoid. This vaccine will be a lifesaver for millions of children, especially those living without access to clean water or sanitation.”

Before the press conference in Bangkok to announce the new effort, Gavi’s CEO, Dr Seth Berkley, expounded on the foundation’s history and mission.

CHILDREN VACCINATED: 640M

So far, Gavi has helped to vaccinate more than 640 million children in dozens of countries, saving an estimated nine million lives.

Over the course of its 17-year history, working with partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the alliance has launched about 350 vaccines.        

As a boy growing up in a poor part of New York, Dr Berkley saw how diseases ravage such communities. 

Those experiences informed the now 61-year-old’s decision to become a doctor and epidemiologist who Time magazine included on its list of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’.  

After working in Uganda for three years to set up the country’s first HIV surveillance system and running Rockefeller Foundation health programs in Asia, he took over as the alliance’s CEO.

In spite of Gavi’s success stories, “the needs remain enormous,” said Dr Berkley. In the case of cholera, he said, “four years ago there were 200,000 dosages available. This year there’s 17 million and next year 25 million.”  

Working in developing countries poses many problems, like the lack of health care services and even basic infrastructure. 

Dr Seth Berkley

DRONES HELP DELIVER

In Rwanda, for example, where there are no private aircraft and many roads are impassable during the rainy season, Dr Berkley said, “42 percent of the blood is being delivered by drone”.

“So if a woman comes into a clinic and starts hemorrhaging and she’s five or six hours away from a real hospital, you just type in Type A blood and 20 minutes later it’s delivered to you by drone.”

Rawanda has been a testing ground for this delivery system, which is now being expanded into Tanzania, a bigger country with greater challenges.

Zipline, the company developing this technology, is a Silicone Valley start-up.

By pairing them up with United Parcel Services (UPS), Gavi can combine the creativity and experience of the private sector with its own altruistic mindset to make inroads that would be difficult for many bigger organisations, hampered by bureaucracy, or donor-driven foundations, constrained by limited budgets, to navigate.

With the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gavi launched a program called Innovation for Uptake Scale and Equity (INFUSE) to harness “their network of tech pioneers and social entrepreneurs of companies to bring these technologies forward”.

“Our role is not to fund, but to connect companies that have already had some proof of concept and to connect them with developing countries where there are problems and to work on trying to scale,” Dr Berkley said.

That dedication to creative partnerships also extends into the realm of financial mechanisms.

Gavi programs have helped eliminate many diseases that once decimated the lives of children in Asia.

FUNDING INNOVATION

A program called International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFM), gets governments to guarantee long-term payments to IFFM. 

With the World Bank serving as the treasurer, they can go onto the capital markets and raise vaccine bonds for IFFM that can be cashed in when they need them. Floated around the world, these bonds have raised another US$4.5 billion dollars for Gavi, saving untold lives in the process. 

Securing advanced purchase commitments for ebola vaccines to make sure there are sufficient reserves in case of an outbreak, the CEO said, was another way Gavi has been preparing for more pandemics such as the outbreak of yellow fever in Angola 18 months ago.

“It’s easy to say that you live in a country with a good healthcare system, but you can’t put a wall up to stop infectious diseases,” Dr Berkley said.

www.gavi.org

  • Jim Algie is a business journalist reporting throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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