Community Business

Wiley improves Traction’s workshop to help empower vulnerable young people

TRACTION, a Brisbane-based organisation that helps to empower young Queenslanders by teaching them bike and motorcycle repair skills – and valuable life skills – recently reached out to local firm Wiley for much-needed assistance in getting the charity’s new workshop into shape.

Traction helps vulnerable Brisbane youth to turn their lives around, operating since out of a donated workshop space at Pro Honda Motorcycles at Moorooka and in 2021 migrating to a bigger workshop in the Brisbane suburb of Yeerongpilly.

Wiley, the project delivery company with its headquarters in closeby Woolloongabba, came to the party immediately, agreeing to not only help Traction and provide the upgrades gratis, but also to work with their network to encourage suppliers and subcontractors to do the same.  

The updated workshop facility will provide a venue where Traction can help more vulnerable young people gain skills and life confidence through restoring bikes, motorbikes and other items. Traction engages local communities and serves those most in need by providing a safe, inclusive, action-based environment where vulnerable youth build self-esteem, find a sense of belonging, discover their potential empowering them to create their own future.  Wiley has started construction to ensure a safe and welcoming facility.

The project will include upgrades to the main hall, kitchen, office and amenities. These upgrades are aimed to be finished before term two of the school year commences, helping Traction to establish a community hub from which it can support young people from Greater Brisbane region communities. 

Wiley’s CEO, Rob Barron said, “It is fantastic to partner with Traction on this project. At Wiley we value a sense of community with an eye to making a difference and this certainly fits the bill.

“I have personally been involved with Traction, fundraising at an event for them in 2020. It was great to see the youth using their problem-solving skills and to see them gain confidence through the experience. I am delighted to know that this project will have an even greater impact, helping more vulnerable youth in the community and providing them with a safe space.”

Traction For Young People Ltd CEO and founder, Sandy Murdoch said, “Traction needs a physical presence in communities to support young people across South East Queensland. It is a team effort to secure and establish new workshop facilities and we’re delighted to have the support of Wiley, the project delivery company.

“Wiley people are giving their time and a dedicated network of trusted sub-contractors and suppliers are also donating their services and materials to fit out our new Yeerongpilly workshop. Not only will this ensure we'll have superb learning facilities available for communities across the southside of Brisbane, it means Traction can provide more places for young people to discover their strengths and develop the skills and confidence to build their own future.

“On behalf of Traction, I would like to acknowledge Wiley and the following subcontractors who have generously donated time and resources: BENIC Electrical, Todd Painting and Maintenance, Plumbrite solutions, Alaspec concreting, Elite Interiors, Fit Out Glass and Aluminum, Continental Carpets and Renoline. Bunnings have generously donated $5000 and Harvey Norman have donated $500. Thank you,” Mr Murdoch said.

Local Brisbane City Councillor for Tennyson Ward, Nicole Johnston said, “It’s fantastic to see  Wiley, a major construction company based on the southside, helping Traction to build an incredible new space to help empower vulnerable teenagers. It’s a wonderful partnership that will have long term benefits for young people from around Brisbane.”  

Wiley is no stranger to working with community businesses and charities, also helping FareShare’s Brisbane community kitchen get back on their feet to feed the hungry in 2019, building their facility at cost.



AccessEAP identifies four ways businesses get back when they give back

PEOPLE, NOT PROFITS, have become the priority for many businesses in response to the pandemic.

Now, as they rebuild, many organisations are looking at their role in contributing to society through corporate citizenship and this ‘pay it forward’ mentality is not only good for communities, but also offers a range of business benefits.

“Doing good shouldn’t be the sole domain of charities. While some industries are finding their feet post pandemic, many have an opportunity to help out. For those struggling to justify the time or expense, it’s important to know that corporate citizenship initiatives can contribute to creating more productive, highly skilled workplaces,” according to Sally Kirkright, CEO at innovative workplace wellbeing experts, employee assistance program provider, AccessEAP.

“While economic or productivity reasons shouldn’t be the driving force behind good deeds, they will be essential to offering teams a sense of purpose and for recruiting and retaining talent,” Ms Kirkright said. 

“The modern workforce is increasingly dominated by Millennials, who are heavily influenced by their values and ethics. Industry research shows that 64 percent[1] of millennials won’t take a job if their employer doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy.

“Additionally, this altruistic expectation is only set to grow with another study reporting that 76 percent[2] of millennials said that the pandemic has highlighted new issues for them and made them more sympathetic toward the needs of different people around the world.”

Ms Kirkright said supporting local communities and vulnerable people is the mission of AccessEAP, with its purpose to help people to be their best in work and their everyday lives.

With this in mind, AccessEAP continues to provide funding for vulnerable families and children, donating over $1 million to programs including the House Outreach to Promote Empowerment (HOPE) Program.

Ms Kirkright said this vital organisation offers young parents the chance to seek support to address underlying issues, escape the generational cycle of poverty, homelessness and violence, to ensure a brighter future for them and their children.

As part of the program, they commit to learning parenting skills, vocational training and how to manage money.

“As a social enterprise, AccessEAP provides funding to social programs and our longstanding work with HOPE offers disadvantaged young families access to accommodation, education and support for those with complex needs.” Ms Kirkright said. “The ability to give back and help change the futures of mothers and children is unbelievably rewarding. As a business, we find that our people can connect as a team over helping others, which leads to a more positive workplace that champions purpose. 

“Most recently, we have been communicating to our team that our financial assistance will help HOPE deliver a new, purpose built residential complex in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Seeing how our donations are being used really engages the team and inspires a desire to continue to support our charitable efforts.”

Ms Kirkright offered a list of benefits AccessEAP has identified from introducing CSR for companies:

Providing purpose

Finding purpose in professional life improves productivity, happiness and health, making it integral to any successful workplace, especially for younger generations. Millennials, who will make up 75 percent3 of the Australian Workforce by 2025[3], are particularly driven by purpose.

As with AccessEAP’s work with HOPE, adopting purpose-led initiatives will require dedicated and consistent efforts, and in the longer term, will become a way of thinking and behaving that change the dynamics of the business.


Boosting engagement

Extensive research[4] shows that CSR initiatives actively contribute to increased employee engagement.
Today’s employees want to be involved in social and ethical initiatives. Time invested in CSR initiatives will support a higher performing workforce. Effective employee engagement results in 17 percent4 higher productivity, 41 percent4 lower absenteeism and 21 percent4 higher profitability, making imperative to business leaders.


Creating a connected team

Shared aspirations and achievements help create a sense of togetherness that allows a team to feel proud of their organisation and concentrating employees on a shared goal. Setting up activities such as beach cleaning, fundraising, or exercise challenges, can serve as team-building exercises that foster a connected workforce.


Public perception

The focus on supporting local community can also provide an opportunity for businesses to build their reputation to the public. Recent research found that 78 percent5 of consumers said they will have a strong affiliation to brands and businesses who go above and beyond, and that brands need to adapt their businesses to help the greater good during the COVID-19 crisis.

 “Our commitment to providing generous and meaningful funding, for often intensive and life-changing welfare programs such as HOPE, is one of the reasons we strive to achieve the absolute best practice in all we do,” Ms Kirkbright said.. “It’s a way for us to put our belief in CSR into practice and while our driving force is to help those in need, we also see the benefits to our own culture. It’s vital that companies understand that good businesses do good.”

She said AccessEAP offered a range of workplace wellbeing and counselling services for its partner businesses to offer to their employees free of charge.


[1] Cone Communications

[2] The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020

[3] Haworth, Raising the Bar 2017




Sporting Wheelies pick up pace with $1.1m grant for Peer Support Leadership Program

BRISBANE-BASED not-for-profit Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), raising the bar on the goals and achievements available to those living with a disability.

The grant will fund Sporting Wheelies new Raising the Bar–Peer Support Leadership Program (PSL), employing Queenslanders living with a disability as Peer Support Leaders (PSL) to create awareness and empowerment amongst the community.

In recent years, the technology, support and facilities available to those living with a disability has increased drastically, however exposure to these resources can be difficult for those not active in the community. The PSL will bring this crucial information and their own personal stories to Queenslanders living with a disability, so they can set goals higher and achieve more. 

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association CEO, Amanda Mather said the grant would help raise awareness about what’s possible for people living with disability.

“This grant from the National Disability Insurance Agency will support our mission to make all active goals possible," Ms Mather said. "We are passionate about generating awareness and understanding of the many opportunities available to the almost one-in four Aussies living with a disability.

“Sporting Wheelies support the variety of active goals people may have, from increasing mobility and independence, improving health, socialising, and participating recreationally through to professional sport,” she said.

“The program will employ Queenslanders living with a disability in our metro cities, as well as rural and remote regions, to inspire others and raise the bar for all people with disabilities,” Ms Mather said.

The program will also engage schools to educate children about disability, Paralympic sports and show students it is possible for everybody to achieve and set active goals.

Ms Mather said Sporting Wheelies were working towards a world of greater opportunities for people of all abilities. Raising the Bar–Peer Support Program has been developed to create higher standards for the goals and aspirations of people living with a disability.

Believing sport offers much more than an opportunity to represent a region, state, or country, Sporting Wheelies provide people with an opportunity to have fun, make new friends, and develop skills.

"All whilst getting fit and raising awareness of what Australians with disabilities can achieve within a supportive environment," Ms Mather said.

Through increasing understanding and championing the importance and benefits of physical activity, Sporting Wheelies has inspired and enabled people with a disability to be active for over 40 years and are the peak sporting body for five Paralympic sports in Queensland.


Accounting bodies unite to help treat SME mental illness

THE Department of Innovation, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) has awarded the IPA-Deakin SME Research Centre a $2.24 million grant for its 'Supporting Small Business Advisors for Better Mental Health' project to train 5000 accountants by 2022.

Professional accounting bodies, including the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) and CPA Australia, are taking up the gauntlet in unison to ensure their members are equipped to recognise and support their clients, employees and themselves in dealing with mental health issues.

Accountants, as trusted advisers, are on the frontline and are often the first to recognise such stressors amongst their clients, particularly SMEs. The Australian Federal Budget, handed down last month, announced the world’s largest investment in support of small business owners’ mental health.

This project builds on last year’s $1 million grant through the National Health and Medical Research Council which is developing the training material while the latest grant will enable the roll out of the mental health training to more than 5,000 accountants over the next two years across Australia. This grant was achieved in collaboration between the professional accounting bodies, Deakin University, Beyond Blue, Mental Health First Aid Australia and Worksafe Victoria.

The Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Michaelia Cash, said the Morrison Government had made mental health a priority during COVID-19. 

“The government is making record investments in mental health services and support with expenditure estimated to be $5.7 billion this year alone," Ms Cash said. "Small and family business are the lifeblood of our communities and the backbone of our economy, so it is crucial that they emerge from the pandemic in the best financial and emotional shape possible.

“We have committed $7 million to the BusinessBalance program, including $2.24 million in Deakin University and other stakeholders to train more than 4,000 accountants in mental health first aid to support their critical small business networks," she said.

“The government is proudly partnering with Deakin University and professional accounting bodies to deliver this vital training that will change lives.”

IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey said, "The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) commends this collaborative effort to bring attention and significant funding to the issue of mental health. This is meaningful not only for members of the profession and SMEs, but for society more broadly. Australia is leading on this important work and setting a strong example for others to follow.”

Deakin vice-chancellor, professor Iain Martin welcomed the grant and said it recognised the numerous and significant mental health challenges that both business owners and accountants are currently facing because of the global pandemic.

“With a recent departmental study showing nearly one in three small-medium enterprise (SME) owners had identified a diagnosis in the last 12 months of either experiencing stress, depression or anxiety, now more than ever we must pay close attention to our mental wellbeing," Prof. Martin said. 

“This crucial Federal Government grant will help fund the rollout of a sector-wide continuous professional development program for accountants and will be delivered by Australia’s three accounting professional bodies.

“The program will upskill accountants to provide mental health first aid to their small-medium enterprise clients. The project also provides an important avenue for the early identification, management, or prevention of various mental health conditions.

“I congratulate the many stakeholders involved in securing the funding required to undertake such an important body of research,” Prof. Martin said.

A 2020 study commissioned by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources reported that nearly one in three SME owners had identified that they had a diagnosis in the past 12 months of experiencing stress, depression, or anxiety. The main factor contributing to SME owners' stress is related to financial issues and the impact of those stresses on family and personal life.

“Our combined research grant funding of over $3.24m through the Centre and insights gained through our members and the small business community highlight the significant challenges that SME owners are currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” IPA chief executive officer Andrew Conway said.

“We have been long term advocates in recognising the vital role accountants play in supporting their client’s mental health.

"By upskilling accountants, we believe there will be tremendous positive outcomes in supporting SME owners and ensuring they get the professional help as required. They are not there to play the role of professional health clinician, but they can be better equipped to point their SME client in that direction when required,” Mr Conway said.

“CPA Australia CEO Andrew Hunter said, “This project comes at a critical time for the accounting profession. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, accountants have played a frontline role in helping individuals and businesses manage the economic fallout, and this has put them under enormous pressure. Mental health is a whole of industry issue and, more so than ever before, needs a collective approach which supports all our members. 

Chartered Accountants ANZ CEO Ainslie van Onselen said, “By training accountants to provide mental health support to their tens of thousands of small and medium business clients, we will have a larger societal impact.

“Mental health is a whole of society issue and as one of Australia’s most trusted professions accountants have a unique and vital role to play on the front line. Every day accountants see the huge impost that has taken place on their clients and this project will make a huge difference quickly.” 

Through this IPA, CA ANZ and CPA Australia project, more than 5,000 accountants will receive training in providing mental health first aid and be ready to assist clients across Australia.


Charity Uniting WA uses Macquarie Telecom to save 60pc on mobile costs

WESTERN AUSTRALIAN community services group, United WA, has been able to improve staff safety and significantly reduce costs with a major mobile phone systems overhaul through Macquarie Telecom, after "hitting breaking point' with two tier one telcos".

Macquarie Telecom, part of Macquarie Telecom Group (ASX: MAQ), announced it had simplified Uniting WA’s mobile services, reducing costs by more than 60 percent and providing improved support at a time when the organisation was more dependent on its mobile services and data than ever before.

Uniting WA is a Western Australian not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of vital community services. These include support for mental health, disability, homelessness, housing, financial counselling, and re-entry to society for prisoners. 

Following years of poor service and erratic costs from two tier one telcos, which rendered mobiles a heavy burden, Uniting WA realised it needed to reduce costs and find a new provider. 

Issues for Uniting WA included mobile costs growing at an unsustainable level, poor support, outdated services and unexpected billing spikes.

The not-for-profit switched its mobility services to Macquarie Telecom, which was able to reduce mobile spend by more than 60 percent by creating a shared data pool between staff, to share data without bill spikes and provide real-time access to data and call usage to help Uniting WA more effectively manage resources.

“It became clear we had become just a number to our two former telco providers,” Uniting WA principal practice lead, Luke McNiece said.

“There was zero account management and no local support, and we didn’t have the resources in house to manage our mobile services," he said. "With Macquarie that all changed – the NPS score was telling and it truly exceeded expectations and almost instantly slashed our mobile costs while improving reliability and management.”


The organisation’s need to maintain a reliable mobility service is greater than most – many staff work with potentially high-risk members of the community through Uniting WA’s services. Many staff use the Safe Haven app, which allows them to activate an SOS if in a dangerous situation.

“Most organisations are more reliant than ever on their mobiles in the current climate, but for us they’re an essential part of how we keep our people safe, no matter what. Knowing that our mobile services are now in safe, reliable hands gives us great comfort,” Mr McNiece said.

Uniting WA will also consider additional services such as network infrastructure, SD-WAN and cloud with Macquarie, following the success of the mobile overhaul. The organisation has transitioned non-essential staff to working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions and is looking at implementing long-term work-from-home (WFH) capabilities for those staff.

“Sometimes you don’t realise how low down the pecking order you are with a telco until you decide to make a change,” Macquarie Telecom group executive, Luke Clifton said.

“Most of these providers don’t have the ability or willingness to provide any decent support to mid-sized companies and the results are telling. Our business has literally been built on doing the opposite and doing it locally, and the impact is clear in organisations like Uniting WA that can instantly gain such significant benefits.”


St John Ambulance cares for its volunteers through crisis

By Leon Gettler >>

ST JOHN AMBULANCE, like many Australian organisations, has had to deal with the recent social isolation of its people. In the case of St John Ambulance, the question was how to keep its 130 volunteers engaged.

The strategy employed could be a lesson for other Australian businesses.

St John Ambulance used technology to support its 130 strong team of volunteers to remain connected and engaged with the organisation during this period of strict social distancing. 

This is a critical component for the organisation as it relies on a team of volunteers who are engaged to support the community. 

The Granville Division of St John Ambulance exists to support its local health services with first aid support and services, and equipping individuals, families, and workplaces with high quality equipment. The team also has a critical role in major incidents – such as COVID-19 – where they will work alongside emergency services in times of need. 

Specifically it used the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse in Sydney, an automated pre-built survey that enables employers to gather vital information about its employees in near real time.


Didier Moutia, the commissioner of St John Ambulance Australia (NSW), said the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse technology delivered results and kept the team engaged. But much of it was also due to the systems that St John Ambulance already had in place.

“When this happened we had to look at alternative ways to provide contact with our members and also provide that social outreach to members so we looked to technology as a potential to solve that issue,” Mr Moutia told Talking Business

He said the Qualtrics’ Remote Work Pulse was used to reach out to all its volunteers and it was done in a confidential way that allowed the organisation to understand how they were tracking.

The survey is sent out to volunteers every Monday and asks them some simple questions: how are they feeling, what’s contributing to that feeling, and if there is anything St John Ambulance could do to help them, whether it was a physical requirement, such as helping to get their shopping, or whether it was a social or member welfare requirement, such as having someone contact them, or include them in social activities online.

“So it’s really just an ability for us on a week to week basis to monitor the membership, but on an individual basis, to be able to see what people are doing and what we can help them with,” he said.  

“The challenge with volunteers and any people in a group is we can ask them collectively how they’re going and they will say okay, however, what often happens is people will suffer in silence,” Mr Moutia said.

“But when you do reach out to them, our experience with this particular product is we get real feedback from people, particularly those who are struggling or who would otherwise not put their hand up or to offer that in a public forum.”

He said some of members had struggled with the social isolation aspects.

There had also been volunteers who had lost their jobs or family members to coronavirus.

When certain responses are elicited in the survey, an email is sent to leaders like Mr Moutia.

St John has an extensive peer support and chaplaincy program and leaders can engage those services for the volunteers.

He said it has well received by the volunteers who have remained totally engaged in a challenging time for everyone.

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

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.


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