Community Business

Canon Oceania Grants Program supports small businesses again

CANON Oceania has opened submissions for the second year to Australian small businesses for its 2021 Grants Program. 

Canon Oceania managing director Akira ‘Dave’ Yoshida said, in the spirit of Canon’s guiding philosophy of Kyosei – which means living and working together for the common good – over the last 15 years, Canon Oceania has supported more than 75 schools, not-for-profits and community groups with more than $420,000.

“Australian communities and organisations have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. As the JobKeeper program has drawn to a close, it’s important for us to get behind small businesses and support their shift from survival to recovery mode,” Mr Yoshida said. 

“Last year we extended our Grants Program to include small businesses for the first time and we were thrilled to see the positive impact this delivered. 

“Looking ahead, it’s imperative that small businesses not only adjust to the ‘new normal’ but are set up for success in the future. We’re committed to helping our local business community navigate a COVID-19 world.” 

That is why Canon is once again including a small business category in its Grants Program, he said.

Winners will also be selected from two additional categories: Community, which is open to organisations ranging from not-for-profits, to grassroots groups and environmental causes; and Education, which is open to schools and other educational centres for children and adults alike.

Winners will be selected based on the strength of their initiative and the impact it will have on their community or business. 

Each grant recipient will receive $5000 in cash and Canon products, ranging from cameras and printers, to projectors and other accessories. This year the value of the Grants will be equally divided between cash and equipment – $2500 each – reflecting organisations’ greater need for cash to help rebuild themselves in a weaker economy. The split prior to 2020 was $1000 in cash and $4000 in products. 

Mr Yoshida said, “At Canon, we believe the Kyosei philosophy is something we live and breathe every day, so we’re pleased to continue supporting small businesses as they take the important next steps towards recovery.” 

The winner of the 2020 Small Business Grant was Dogs for Kids with Disabilities, an organisation that raises and trains assistance and therapy dogs for children whose everyday activities are restricted by emotional, physical and intellectual challenges. They used their prizes from the grant to create videos that drive awareness of their work among the wider community. This awareness has been imperative in helping Dogs for Kids secure sponsors so that they have the means to continue their important work for children with disabilities.

“The Canon equipment has been wonderful in enabling us to create educational videos to promote the work of our amazing volunteers, staff, families and of course, our incredible dogs,” Dogs for Kids with Disabilities chair, Tracey Harris said.

“Educating the community and attracting new sponsors has been critical during the lockdown period,” she said. “At the same time, it’s been very rewarding to connect with our community through the love of assistance dogs.

“For any small business in need of support – big or small – I encourage you to apply for Canon Oceania Grants.” 

Telethon Speech and Hearing, an independent school offering therapy services for children with hearing loss and speech delays, was another worthy 2020 winner. Telethon’s grant was used to develop a ‘mobile pack’ to facilitate tele-therapy sessions. 

“During lockdown, the prize money and cameras from the Canon Grant allowed us to facilitate online delivery of high-quality learning to families in remote Western Australia,” Telethon Speech and Hearing CEO Mark Fitzpatrick said.  

“A highlight has been providing children in our Chatterbox Program (aged up to five years) and their families with access to specialised teachers, regardless of their location. Thanks to Canon, we’ve been able to conduct virtual intervention, ensuring that distance isn’t a barrier to quality support for children in the early years of development.” 

The winner of the 2020 Community Grant, Action for Dolphins, is working to stop cruelty and gain legal protection for dolphins. The organisation is using equipment supplied by the grant for everything from recording evidence of animals trapped in underwater nets to recording interviews with experts. 

“We were lucky enough to receive the Canon Grant which enabled us to create a video warning against illegal handfeeding of dolphins on North Stradbroke Island,” Action for Dolphins CEO Hannah Tait said.  

“The video was displayed on the ferry to the island, educating visitors as well as our local community about how to end activities that harm marine life.”

The 2021 grants will be awarded under the following categories: 

1 x Small Business Grant – $5000 
Open to any for-profit entity that employs fewer than 20 people and have less than A$10 million aggregated turnover (according to ABS and ATO guidelines). 

1 x Community Grant – $5000 
Open to a range of organisations keeping their community at the heart of what they do, ranging from not-for-profits, to grassroots groups and environmental causes. 

1 x Education Grant – $5000 
Open to schools and other educational centres for children and adults alike. 

1 x Runner-up Grant – $1000 
A runner up will be selected from any of the categories above. 

Submissions are now open until Friday July 30. The wider community will vote on finalists in August, and winners will be announced in September.



Axon helps secure 'financial future' of Defence community, reaching $100m milestone

ACKNOWLEDGING the immense challenges faced by Australia’s service men and women transitioning from military to civilian life, Axon Property Group (Axon) is creating a sense of community and purpose for the Defence Force community. Axon provides personnel with property coaching and mentoring to best utilise their unique housing entitlements.

Since the business was first established on the Gold Coast in 2017, Axon has enabled 191 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, veterans, and their families to build and invest in more than $106 million worth of property. 

In 2018, ex-servicemen were 21 percent more likely to commit suicide than other men, and ex-servicewomen 127 percent more likely than other women, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found.

Axon co-founder and general manager, Tamara Turner said Axon was purpose-built to provide not only property coaching to current serving ADF members and the community, but a sense of connection and purpose to combat these disturbing figures.

“We set out to support our community by offering property guidance and to help them navigate their ADF property entitlements. As the business has evolved, we’ve realised this is only scratching the surface of how we can help,” Ms Turner said.

“We know our work not only provides mentoring and property coaching to current serving members and Veterans, but a community and culture that feels and sounds like home and lets them know they’re not alone as they go through the essential process of transitioning into civilian life.

“Many on our team are Veterans themselves, and so the world of Defence is built into our culture – the mindset, the terminology, and the unique experience of service life.”

Starting out as an idea on a Gumtree-bought whiteboard, Axon now has a team of 14 employees, including nine veterans, with a combined 117 years of service and more than 23 deployments. The experience of the team also includes 72 years in the property sector.

This business model of service for the Defence community extends to charity and community work through partnerships with iconic veterans’ charities.

“We give back by supporting many Defence charities (like Soldier On) through community involvement and financial support. To date we have donated over $38,000 to these charities” Ms Turner said.

“We also run weekly Live Q&A nights on Facebook for the community to respond first-hand to any questions that our community has around using their unique housing entitlements, the very casual and interactive nature of these sessions provide continued comradery and mateship among the Defence community.

“These events initially started as a way for serving ADF members and their families to access property guidance and coaching in a supportive setting. It has since become a weekly catch up for the community to share knowledge, support each other, and network.

“We do this because of our love of this community. Axon is a Veteran-owned and operated company and are passionate about supporting and empowering one another.

“Our service men and women are real Aussie heroes; and we hope to be their ‘soft landing from Defence’ as they make the undeniably challenging transition into civilian life,” Ms Turner said.


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.”


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