Community Business

Health professionals, Women's Shelters and case managers partner on COVID-19 domestic violence

THE Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter is calling for greater collaboration between medical centres, hospitals, emergency services, pharmacists, mental health professionals and domestic violence services to cope with an expected surge in demand from women facing abuse or homelessness, throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

President of the Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter, Louise McCann said women at risk were especially vulnerable during this critical period of safe social distancing and isolation.

“Social distancing and isolation throughout COVID-19 means vulnerable women in our community face greater barriers to accessing help,” Ms McCann said. 

“It’s critical that at this time that health professionals and domestic violence service providers work together to ensure women have access to the vital support services they need.” 

Ms McCann said HKWS is launching an awareness campaign to reach out to local and regional health professionals and services to inform them about the essential services HKWS can offer their patients.

“Women turn to doctors and nurses in emergency, often suffering critical injuries. However, health professionals often don’t know where to refer their patients after they have been treated,” Ms McCann said.

“HKWS has dedicated Shelter professionals on hand, delivering comprehensive case management programs to women in need, assisting them to get their lives back on track.”


Ms McCann said the Shelter, along with health professionals, was preparing for a surge in domestic violence as a consequence of COVID-19.

HKWS, as part of the Women’s Community Shelters network, is preparing for a potential 30 percent increase in demand for support services because of COVID-19.

“Fear of uncertainty, job loss and financial stress are key risks that could lead to an increase in domestic violence,” Ms McCann said.

HKWS housed 58 clients last year, but was forced to turn away 105 women because of a lack of resources.

HKWS is seeking pro bono assistance from health providers including psychologists or counsellors who can provide services digitally.

“HKWS is expanding our outreach services to help more women in need during this difficult period,” Ms McCann said. 

“As part of this we are extending the provision of mental health support, which is even more important at this time.”

Ms McCann said Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter aims to provide temporary supported accommodation for women in times crisis such as homelessness and/or domestic violence.

Women stay at the shelter for up to three months and are allocated specialist caseworkers who support them to assist necessary legal, health, employment and financial services. Women who cannot be housed can access out outreach program.


Coles donates extra $1m a week in food to support work of Foodbank and SecondBite for vulnerable people

COLES has announced it will donate extra food and groceries to the retail value of $1 million a week "to help Australians who are facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus".

The food donations will be directed to food relief organisations, Foodbank and SecondBite, which will in turn distribute the food to up to 3800 community food programs across Australia. 

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the decision to increase Coles’ food donations was in response to increasing demand for food relief from vulnerable Australians.

"For many years, we have donated surplus edible food from our supermarkets and distribution centres but sadly we are hearing that an increasing number of people in our community are facing particularly tough times as a flow-on effect of the Coronavirus,” Mr Cain said.

“We hope that by donating an additional $1 million in food each week to SecondBite and Foodbank, we can help get food and essentials to people who are especially vulnerable at this unprecedented time.

“It goes to the heart of our strategy which is to feed all Australians and help them lead healthier, happier lives.”

The announcement comes just days after Coles introduced a dedicated Community Hour at its supermarkets to improve access to essential groceries for the elderly and disadvantaged during the period of unprecedented demand.

Community Hour is held on weekdays from 7am to 8am in all Coles supermarkets, with access exclusively for customers who hold a government-issued Pensioner Concession Card, Seniors Health Card, Companion Card, Seniors Card, Disability Card or Health Care Card.

SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan welcomed the additional food donations.

“A key issue for us at the moment is keeping up with the growing demand," Mr Mullan said. "Coles currently donates surplus food from around 780 supermarkets and these additional donations from its distribution centres will help us to reach an increasing number of people in need."

Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey said the combination of drought, bushfires and coronavirus had placed unprecedented pressure on the charity’s food supplies.

“We are already assisting 815,000 people a month, but the need for food relief is skyrocketing at a time when donations of essential food and groceries are reducing," Ms Casey said.

"The additional donations from Coles will help ensure Foodbank can bolster its supplies to ensure vulnerable Australians can continue to be assisted."




Australian shipping steps up to help bushfire-hit areas

AUSTRALIAN shipping is playing an important role in the relief effort following the devastating bushfires in NSW and Victoria.

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said the crew of the Norwegian-flagged Far Saracen supply vessel was tasked by the Victorian Emergency Co-ordinator to deliver much needed relief supplies to 4,000 people stranded by bushfires in the Victorian town of Mallacoota.

“Australian and Kiwi seafarers were the first on the scene with much needed supplies of food, water and diesel,” Mr Crumlin said.

“While the Federal Government was resisting calls to activate the Australia’s Defence Forces, our seafarers were able to get those supplies to Mallacoota a full 24 hours before the first naval vessel arrived in the area.

“This was an important mission for a ship which is usually engaged in the resupply of off-shore rigs, so they are well versed in the logistics of resupply,” Mr Crumlin said. 

“In this case their efforts not only took the pressure off a population of locals and holiday-makers stranded by the bushfires, but also brought diesel into Mallacoota to power generators and fuel CFA fire trucks.”

Mr Crumlin said the MUA was well aware of the importance of maintaining a sovereign shipping capability while successive governments had failed to appreciate the vital role shipping plays in times of crisis.

“Our MUA seafarers have been the backbone of relief efforts throughout Australia’s history and this was the case in Mallacoota,” Mr Crumlin said.

“The civilian crews of the training vessel MV Sycamore and the supply vessel Far Senator and the Sealink Kangaroo Island Ferries are also doing their bit to back up our fire fighters and bring relief to those stranded and cut off by fire.”

Mr Crumlin said Western Australia was currently cut off from the rest of the country because fire had closed the highway across the Nullarbor and shipping would be needed to maintain supply links until road transport could get through.

“Our island nation’s blue highway is a proven alternative however the lack Australian coastal shipping capacity prevents this from being an option,” Mr Crumlin said.

“At a time of national crisis like the bushfire emergency, the need for an Australian merchant fleet has never been clearer. We were a key part of the relief effort following the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy and we will back up to assist Australians whenever there is a humanitarian need.

“Merchant seafarers have always been at the forefront of our battles and provided support in times of peace and war and this is a timely reminder that our Australian-flagged shipping remains essential to our national interest.” 


Woolworths ups paid leave policy for its rural fire services volunteers to four weeks

WOOLWORTHS Group has extended paid leave entitlements to four weeks for team members, covered by an Enterprise Agreement (EA), who volunteer for rural fire services.

Previously those covered by an EA who volunteered for rural fire services were entitled to two weeks paid leave. 

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said salaried team members within the Woolworths Group were already eligible for uncapped paid leave for volunteer rural firefighting duties, subject to approval after four weeks. 

“The ferocity of this year’s bushfire season has been visible to us all, and has tragically taken the life of one of our own team," Mr Banducci said.

“Against the backdrop of our busiest time of the year, a number of our team have been serving as volunteers in rural fire brigades across Australia.  

“In support of their community spirit, and with the inevitability of more challenges in the weeks and months ahead, we have made the decision to extend paid leave entitlements for our EA team members volunteering in the rural fire services.” 

The updated Woolworths Group policy means both EA and salaried team members now have the opportunity to take four weeks paid leave  -- more, subject to approval -- when volunteering for rural fire services. It follows the recent announcement by the Prime Minister that federal public servants would now be able to access 20 working days paid leave in support of volunteer firefighting duties.  

“In addition to our team members who continue to volunteer to battle the many bushfires still burning across the country, our store teams have also played a vital role locally in supporting rural fire service crews," Mr Banducci said.

“We are also proud of our long-standing partnership with The Salvation Army to support the role they play in helping communities recover from the devastating fires. In the past two months, in partnership with our customers, almost $1.3million has been raised to support the Salvos bushfire recovery efforts.”


OzHarvest Brisbane bakes 100 cakes to fund food

BRISBANE’S BEST chefs, bakers and cake makers are all set to create 100 birthday cakes with a difference, to help OzHarvest Brisbane celebrate its eighth birthday and spread some joy to people in need.

The Cakes for a Cause will be donated to local charities that receive OzHarvest food and the cake makers hope to raise $100,000 as each cake can be sponsored by a local business or generous individual.

OzHarvest is inviting Brisbane locals with big hearts to bring joy to charity friends like Rosie’s Brisbane, Inala Youth Service and Caboolture Community Care by sponsoring a cake for $1,000.  

With a goal of 100 cakes, the Cakes for a Cause initiative will allow OzHarvest to deliver 200,000 more meals to people in need over the busy end of year period.

OzHarvest state manager, Amy Cobb said the idea was created as a way of adding purpose to the charity’s birthday celebrations, while raising crucial funds to keep their wheels turning.

Every dollar donated allows two meals to go to someone in need, she said.

“There are still so many people going hungry and simple things many of us take for granted, like having a birthday cake, are not possible for someone who is struggling to put food on the table. OzHarvest Brisbane has one birthday wish and that is for those doing it tough to experience the joy of a beautiful birthday cake.”

“Our bright yellow vans are out and about in the Brisbane community every day, saving good food from going to landfill and delivering it directly to more than 120 local charities who provide essential food relief,” Ms Cobb said.

Any organisation or individual who sponsors a Cake for a Cause will be invited to OzHarvest’s Birthday Party, hosted by founder Ronni Kahn, on November 27 to meet the charities nourished by their gift and celebrate the collective impact of the Brisbane community.

Fundraising is now open and runs until the November 25.

Visit to sponsor a cake for $1000 or to contact OzHarvest Brisbane for the Fundraising Toolkit.


Facing the challenges of aged care with dollars and sense

By Leon Gettler >>

FINDING A FACILITY for an ageing parent is one of the most financially complex challenges facing any family, according to Rod Horin, the managing director of Joseph Palmer & Sons.

The company is a specialist in providing advice on aged care for clients. Mr Horin said the big choice for families was whether the elderly parent stays at home or goes into an aged care facility. Both have enormous cost implications. 

He said most people are choosing to stay at home for longer, but the cost of keeping someone at home – being looked after 24/7 – is about $4000 to $5000 a week, which is about $250,000 a year. On top of that, most carers want to be paid in cash as they have many jobs.

On the other hand, a good aged care facility can be available for $50 a day.

However a bond, or RAD, could be up to $1 million, plus monthly invoices of several thousand dollars.



That is one of the big issues facing families looking for an aged care facility. Do they have to sell the family home to secure accommodation?

“They want to know how they can fund it, so what we do having the benefit of an Australian financial licence is that we can financially model the financial affairs of the aged care resident and see how it could be best funded,” Mr Horin told Talking Business.

“We’ll look at questions like can we fund it without selling the family home? Can we fund it some other way? Can we pay the bond by some different means?

“The bond can be paid the full amount up front or it can be paid part up-front with an interest component in the balance which is set under the Aged Care Act at 5.74 percent.

“What we do is give families clarity and information so that they can work through with us and work out how to get mum or dad in there and how they can fund the monthly invoices for mum and dad staying in there.” 



Another big issue for the firm is handling the investment decisions of senior citizens, who are dependent on income from their investments, when interest rates are falling.

Mr Horin said this is a difficult issue and fraught with danger.

He said we are now seeing the growth of mortgage funds offering high yields of 7-8 percent, high risk and reward deals.

He said those funds were offering high yields to people who cannot get those rates from banks.

“That should sound some alarm bells,” Mr Horin said.

“People’s memories are short. They may not remember some disasters from not that long ago. They are feeling desperate and enjoying eating into their capital. They are not stopping sensibly.”

He said when interest rates were 5 percent, people could get $100,000 off a capital pool of $2 million. When interest rates halve, the capital has to be $4 million and at 1 percent the capital would have to be $10 million.

Mr Horin said most people cannot afford that.

The solution: what people need to do, he said, is start planning their retirement.

When should they start doing that?

“As soon as you enter the workforce,” he said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at 


CSIRO spins out company to help tackle 'social licence to operate'

DECLINING TRUST in corporations is being tackled by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, which has developed and commercialised a new science-driven approach to enable companies to better manage their social licence to operate – starting with mining and agriculture.

New business Voconiq was launched to scale up CSIRO’s community insights service, formerly called Reflexivity.

It captures real-time insights into community sentiment across time and locations, and aims to help industries and communities build greater trust and mutually-beneficial outcomes.

A social licence to operate continues to be a top business risk facing industry today, as highlighted in CSIRO’s recent Australian National Outlook 2019 report.

"Our social insights capability has grown strong market demand from customers including BHP, Rio Tinto and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, so we were able to spin out Voconiq, creating a new Australian company poised for international growth,” CSIRO Mineral Resources director, Jonathan Law, said.

"This move means more businesses will be able to draw on CSIRO-developed science through Voconiq, who can grow their service to benefit more communities, the resources sector and any other industry where community trust is essential to their business.”

Voconiq already has operations underway across five countries and in key Australian mining regions, including the Pilbara, WA and the Hunter Valley, NSW. A new agreement with Newmont Goldcorp in the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA was implemented this month as the company continues to grow.

The Voconiq methodology involves community engagement, community surveys, data collection, analysis and reporting in a clear framework that companies can proactively respond to.

It is underpinned by more than a decade of CSIRO research that shows trust between companies and the communities they work alongside is a key factor influencing a social licence to operate. When companies lose community trust, conflict can occur equating to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in delays or the complete abandonment of a project. 

Voconiq CEO Kieren Moffat, a former CSIRO senior research scientist, said the service is about moving companies from a transactional approach to working with communities in a long term and constructive way.

“Our service enables companies to systematically understand the complex sets of issues and concerns held by communities, while providing communities with a constructive way to have a voice and influence company decision-making,” Dr Moffat said.

In its first year, Voconiq will focus on delivering for its current portfolio of clients, including recently-secured contracts with Newmont Goldcorp, AgriFutures Australia and LiveCorp. It has longer term plans to expand further into the infrastructure, oil and gas industries and to provide its services to communities directly.

Voconiq will also build on previous national-scale research undertaken in CSIRO, including national attitudes to mining surveys for Australia, China and Chile, and most recently for Australian Eggs.

CSIRO continues to maintain a strong social science focus across a range of industries, including mining, tourism, the marine environment, energy and onshore gas, such as through the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance.

The Voconiq team was supported by Australia’s national science and technology accelerator, ON, powered by CSIRO.


Contact Us


PO Box 2144