News Feature

Brisbane business leaders forge ahead in health and tech innovation

INNOVATIONS that can save lives, improve health, and strengthen the workforce have been highlighted at the 2022 Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (LMBAs), which were presented at a gala ceremony at Brisbane City Hall on October 21.

Nine companies – Audeara, Vaxxas, Save Our Supplies, Populous, Australian Spatial Analytics, Kiddo, DoubleTake Sports, The Princess Theatre and simPRO – were recognised for outstanding contributions to Brisbane’s economy, across a wide range of fields and categories.

SimPRO also won the Optus Platinum Award as the peak business named from the field of 2022 category winners.

Three business people were recognised for outstanding contributions to Brisbane’s economy: Andeara founder James Fielding, AIS Water CEO Elena Gosse and construction industry supplier Stoddart Group’s founder and managing director, Jon Stoddart.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the awards demonstrated the courage and entrepreneurial spirit of Brisbane business owners. 

“Brisbane is Australia’s most small-business-friendly city,” Cr Schrinner said. “These talented people invest in our city, create jobs and help enhance Brisbane’s global reputation for innovation.

“Our award winners each have a vision for the future, a passion for their cause and the courage to try and create a better world. It’s that entrepreneurial spirit that’s driving Brisbane forward and helping to grow our $181 billion economy.”

Healthcare innovation was a prominent theme among this year’s winners, reinforcing Brisbane’s status as a world-leader in medical technology. Cr Schrinner said medical devices developed and manufactured in Brisbane were saving lives around the world.

“From needle-free patches to specialist headphones for the hearing impaired, Brisbane businesses are pioneering research and innovation that can help millions of people,” Cr Schrinner said. “The global impact of some of these businesses could be enormous.”

VAXXAS WINS ACCENTURE AUSTRALIA INNOVATION AWARD

The needle-free dispensary patches the Lord Mayor is talking about are from Vaxxas, a company that came out of the innovative work of University of Queensland-based biomedical engineer and scientist, Mark Kendall, who founded the company in 2011 to commercialise his patented ‘nanopatch’ invention.

Vaxxas won the Accenture Australia Award for Product Innovation and the company is now on a mission to revolutionise the way vaccines are delivered worldwide through its needleless skin-patch technology that is effective, as well as easy, to administer and transport.

The Vaxxas needle-free microarray patch (MAP) is applied briefly to the skin using a small applicator device and thousands of vaccine-coated micro-projections deliver the vaccine directly to immune cells just under the skin surface.

Vaxxas has been operating from the Brisbane-based Translational Research Institute (TRI) since 2014 but has recently firmed up a $8.2 million second round grant as part of the Australian Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) to support the manufacturing scale-up at a new facility.

Also securing the support of the Queensland Government, the new Vaxxas Biomedical Facility is being constructed in riverside Northshore and is due to open in early 2023.

As well as relocating its existing workforce of more than 100 employees to the site, the new facility will support the creation of 29 new high-skillset jobs and the ongoing growth and development of the biotech and medtech sectors in the region, Vaxxas CEO David Hoey said.

Accenture Australia CEO, Rob Mahoney, presented the award to Vaxxas and also made special mention of one of the other finalists in the category, RedEye Apps for the company’s work in developing technologies to help protect critical business, community and now natural infrastructure. RedEye was recognised for its new Bushfire Management Platform which combines powerful technologies including simulation, spatial data mapping, long-term forecast weather analytics and machine learning to protect communities, sacred sites, and natural areas against the disastrous effects of bushfires.

Other finalists in the category included Circonomy – formerly known as World’s Biggest Garage Sale – and lightweight high energy lithium-sulphur and lithium-metal battery developer Li-S Energy.

AUDEARA HAILED AS CCIQ OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS

Another Brisbane-headquartered leading light in the medtech innovation space, Audeara, received the CCIQ Outstanding Small Business Award for the company’s life-changing audio technology which helps people with hearing impairments.

Audeara is fast-developing a global hearing health leader, specialising in innovative listening solutions for people with hearing challenges.

Audeara CEO James Fielding said the ASX-listed company’s teams were passionate about redefining hearing health, with a focus on products that deliver world-class tailored listening experiences. Dr Fielding said Audeara came out of a vision and commitment to create a world in which hearing impairment rates reduce rather than expand and where all people are able to “use a personalised sound experience to bring joy and connection”.

Audeara works with a team of industry leaders in audiology and engineering to develop products that connect people in meaningful ways to the experiences and people they love — whether that is watching a favourite TV show, FaceTiming family or listening to music.

Dr Fielding said products such as hearing headsets were carefully crafted to the needs of each individual, with precision detail and state-of-the-art technology, “to deliver a unique, personalised listening experience”.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) CEO Heidi Cooper said there was also a special mention in the category for Goodwill Projects, which pioneered Brisbane’s farmers markets in 2006. Today Goodwill Projects co-ordinates 12 popular public markets across South East Queensland, as well as special events, designed to rejuvenate under-utilised spaces to provide appealing public markets and events.

Other finalists in the category were ethical active and leisurewear brand ‘dk active’ which designs and manufactures in Brisbane and is leading the way in sustainable circular fashion; and PeopleBench which is an innovative school workforce improvement company that has developed technology and processes to help schools build better equipped and motivated educational workforces.

JAMES FIELDING: PORT OF BRISBANE’S YOUNG BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

From a field that included, Ashe Reddy of Chess Mates, Hayley Brown of Vacayit and Nina Nguyen of Pakko, Audeara CEO James Fielding was named 2022 winner of the Port of Brisbane Young Business Person of the Year award.

Audeara’s products are now available in more than 1300 hearing health clinics around Australia and international expansion plans are underway.

Audeara founder and CEO Dr Fielding said, “It’s an incredible honour to be recognised at such a prestigious awards event, especially as the emphasis is on where we’re going as much as what we’ve already accomplished.

“In the face of a particularly challenging year, these awards, and the event itself, serves as a great opportunity to take stock and connect with the community around us.

“For the team's hard work and positive impact to be appreciated in this way means a lot to us,” Dr Fielding said.

Like prescription glasses, an Audeara tailored listening experience gives clarity and depth that cannot be achieved with generic headphones, Dr Fielding said. Audeara users experience clearer sound that ‘preserves hearing health’ while keeping users in touch with conversations and entertainment experiences around them.

“Audeara’s technology and over-ear comfort means our headphones are also suitable for people using cochlear implants and hearing aids,” he said. One of Audeara’s advocates is ABC Radio National Late Night Live broadcaster, Philip Adams, who said he had been better able to listen directly to television without resorting to subtitles through using the tailored headphone sets.

SAVE OUR SUPPLIES WINS URBAN UTILITIES AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Winner of the Urban Utilities Award for Environmental Sustainability in Business, Save Our Supplies (SOS) has salvaged millions of dollars in medical waste by shipping usable items to countries in need.

In fact, seven Brisbane hospitals have signed up to donating internationally through the SOS service. Incredibly, the business was created while founder, nurse Claire Lane, was living in a granny flat, raising a two-year-old child. SOS made a positive difference right away.

SOS is a not-for-profit charity that uses a ‘circular approach’ to improve the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people by providing them with free medical supplies. Australia’s high standards of medical care mean that once packaging is opened and the contents are no longer sterile, the remaining unused, clean supplies cannot be used and are simply dumped. SOS achieves its goals by repurposing the clean waste generated by our hospitals that previously would have been dumped as landfill. It sorts and repurposes this waste into usable medical supplies. Not only does this help people in need, but it also helps “save the planet” at the same time.

“It is an honour to shine a light on local businesses that share our commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural environment ,” Urban Utilities CEO Paul Arnold said, presenting the award to Ms Lane and the SOS team. “We applaud businesses whose focus extends beyond profit to include the impact they have on both people and the planet.”

Mr Arnold also mentioned a recent innovation being introduced by Urban Utilities to utilise wastewater to generate hydro-electricity.

Other finalists in the category included Give Industries – a sustainable electrical contractor service that has so far donated more than $380,000 to assisting people in extreme poverty and energy poverty – Brisbane’s iconic destination Howard Smith Wharves, which diverts more than 90 percent of its waste from landfill each year; and Winson Group which has transformed is Signet and Insignia packaging and identification businesses to help its clients and industries to reduce waste and lower energy consumption.

KIDDO NAMED XERO MICRO BUSINESS AWARD WINNER

LMBA winners adapting technology to improve lives include Kiddo, which has developed a smartphone app which supports more than 20,000 parents Australia-wide to find trusted care for their children.

Kiddo won Xero’s Outstanding Micro Business Award, presented on the night by Xero state manager Andrew Hurst.

Kiddo is a platform that connects parents to fully verified, local babysitters, nannies and National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in-home carers for children.

Kiddo is headquartered in Brisbane and led by mother of two, founder Rebecca Dredge. It was through her own struggle to find a trusted babysitter that she knew there had to be a better way for parents to manage such situations. Kiddo uses the latest technology to provide parents with a safe and efficient way to find trusted care for their children.

Since launching in late 2019, Kiddo now has more than 20,000 active users and proudly continues to grow communities, build connections and give parents much needed support every day. Kiddo can be downloaded on app stores and its services are available throughout Australia.

Ms Dredge said there were now more than 6000 carers registered on the app and climbing. Receiving the Xero-sponsored award at Brisbane City Hall, Ms Dredge said she was proud to be included in such a fine group of micro-business finalists – including Styling Station Australia, The Brand Builders and Vast Yonder – and to head up a team developing “a mum-run business that pushes well above its weight”.

Styling Station is a not-for profit sustainable fashion hub at Milton that helps women in need while providing and avenue for fashion brands to minimise textile waste; The Brand Builders delivers athlete brand education to sporting organisations and athletes across the globe, teaching them how to leverage their personal brands for commercial opportunities such as sponsorship; and Vast Yonder is an experiential creative agency that manages key festivals and projects across Brisbane and South East Queensland.

SIMPRO TAKES OUT BOTH ANZ AND OPTUS AWARDS

SimPRO, which took out the ANZ Award for High-Growth Business as well as the Optus Platinum Award for the overall business of the year, supports more than 200,000 users around the world with its project streamlining software.

Providing field service management software solutions to trade and specialty contracting industries is the basis of the simPRO business. Its verticals broadly include security professionals, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, solar, and data networking.

The simPRO cloud-based software systems streamline field service workflows to increase efficiency, improve cash flow and enable business growth. The company has more than 7,000 clients, 200,000 users and 480 employees over six global offices.

Executive chairman and CEO of simPRO, Sean Diljore said over the past year, simPRO had “seen tremendous global growth” when it acquired Clockshark, a US-based time sheeting and scheduling platform, and AroFlo, an Australian-based job management software provider, which grew its global employee team by 25 percent and opened two additional offices.

“We are a US$1 billion company now and we are still based in Brisbane,” Mr Diljore said.

Today simPRO is operating beyond Australian shores in the US, UK, New Zealand and Singapore.

Mr Diljore paid tribute to simPRO’s hard working teams and the way they constantly innovate and said it was “an honour to have been nominated alongside other successful Brisbane businesses in our category” Aginic Holdings, Explorate and Midnight Health.

Aginic is a niche digital services company that is at the forefront of dashboarding, big data analytics, business intelligence and ‘cloud’ movements. Explorate is a rapidly growing Brisbane-based technology company that has built an open and industry-leading operating system for global trade. Midnight Health is a digital healthcare start-up that enhances patient outcomes through technology, consolidating the fragmented health industry, simplifying experiences and improving accessibility.

AUSTRALIAN SPATIAL ANALYTICS WINS HUTCHINSON BUILDERS OUTSTRANDING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CATEGORY

Australian Spatial Analytics, which took out the Hutchinson Builders Outstanding Social Enterprise category, is helping champion neurodiversity in the workplace by recruiting young people with autism into data careers where their talents can shine.

Australian Spatial Analytics (ASA) is a unique data services provider because its purpose is to use data to employ diversity. ASA is now one of Australia’s largest and fastest-growing social enterprises in the technology field, adding value to corporations and governments by training and employing young autistic adults to process and analyse big data.

ASA CEO Geoffrey Smith said ASA focuses on the societal need to “digitise for diversity”.

Spatial and data analytics are forward-looking sectors, and ASA believes neuro-diverse people should not only be a part of the digital ecosystem, but also can use distinct cognitive talents to add value. With more than 100 employees, 80 percent of whom live with a disability and reside in Brisbane, ASA is contributing significant social and economic impact to this great city.

Sponsor Hutchinson Builders director, Jack Hutchinson, also praised the other nominees – Multhana Property Services, Jigsaw Australia and Silver Memories – for their innovative, hard-working approaches to social enterprise and said it was “good to see so many job-focussed businesses nominated this year”.

DOUBLE TAKE SPORTS HONOURED BY AUSTRALIA PACIFIC LNG AWARD FOR BUSINESS INNOVATION

A Coorparoo-based company that has streamlined and revolutionised the way live sports coverage is produced and aired, DoubleTake Sports, won this year’s Australia Pacific LNG Award for Business Innovation.

Traditionally, production of a sports broadcast would happen at the stadium, court, or venue, with all equipment and crew onsite. DoubleTake Sports recognised that this was inefficient and costly, making high-quality production out of the reach of all but the elite leagues. So DoubleTake Sports innovated to meet surging demand for low-cost, high-quality sports content by becoming the first mover in remote production for sub-elite sports. Since then, DoubleTake has been engaged by Stan Sport, Seven, Nine, Kayo, News Corp. Australia, SBS and Fox Sports to build coverage of certain elite sports as well.

DoubleTake’s revelation was that remote production required only the cameras to be at the venue. They produce the same onscreen product as major production teams with a far lighter environmental impact, and at a higher quality. This means more sports and leagues can access higher-quality production at a time when broadcast and digital revenue is critical to the health and vitality of all sports, and especially the uplift of sport for women and girls.

DoubleTake Sports pursued remote production with the endorsement of key sports partners and rights holders and has remotely produced hundreds of broadcasts nationwide since early 2021.

Other finalists in the category were social welfare enterprise Circonomy which tackles repurposing the many billions of dollars of returned and repaired tech goods across the Australian retail sector; Electric Mobility Solutions (EMoS) which has developed sustainable end-to-end solutions for the ‘first and last mile’ transport of goods and people in urban environments; and Skedulo which has developed a deskless productivity cloud solution, powered by AI and machine learning, to help organisations globally to manage and engage their staff who do not work in traditional office settings.

POPULOUS TAKES HSBC AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

The extraordinary global stadium and venue design work of Populous – which has driven export success for the Brisbane-based company over more than 20 years – win the highest accolade of the HSBC Excellence in International Business category.

Populous opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Brisbane in 1999 after winning the design contract for the Sydney Olympic Stadium. It was the catalyst for Populous to begin exporting creative and professional design services from Brisbane.

Today, the business has grown to 200 designers with offices throughout the Asia-Pacific region and its design success stories of ‘places where people love to be together’ have included Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Kai Tak Sports Park in Hong Kong, Yankee Stadium in New York City and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.

Populous is the largest employer of Queensland architects and designers involved in export, where every dollar earned in the Asia-Pacific creates jobs for Queenslanders. Populous’ unique expertise is in designing iconic, city-shaping places that sit at the intersection of sports, entertainment, arts and culture.

HSBC state manager Gerry white said the calibre of the businesses challenging for the category was very high, including other finalists underground mining guidance systems innovator Applied Mining Technologies, specialist aquatic environmental consulting group Hydrobiology and jewellery manufacturer and retailer Michael Hill International.

THE PRINCESS THEATRE WINS ISPT AWARD FOR INVESTMENT IN BRISBANE

Winner of diverse property investor and developer ISPT’s Award for Investment in Brisbane, The Princess Theatre is a heritage site transformation that extends Brisbane’s appeal in the live entertainment market.

After laying largely dormant for more than 70 years, Queensland’s oldest surviving and only 19th century theatre building, The Princess Theatre, has been given a new life as Brisbane’s newest home to performing arts.

The magnificent state-heritage-listed building was acquired in early 2021 by the owners of The Tivoli, Steve and Dave Sleswick, and prominent local businessman, Steve Wilson, who collectively shared a vision to transform the theatre into Brisbane’s newest home for music, entertainment and the arts.

Together, they overcame the extraordinary challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the live industry to complete a timeless restoration of ‘The Princess’ for future generations to enjoy.

Following a meticulous and faithful restoration, The Princess reopened to the public in 2021 as a state-of-the-art performance auditorium designed for a standing capacity of 900 people and a seated theatre capacity of 500. It also features four bars, a public cafe, private event spaces, a rehearsal room and an outdoor courtyard.

ISPT currently has a $22.2 billion portfolio that invests in and develops office, retail, industrial, educational, health and residential property across Australia. Other finalists for its 2022 investment category award were technology-enabled kitchens provider Chef Collective; social welfare enterprise Circonomy which tackles repurposing the many billions of dollars of returned and repaired tech goods across the Australian retail sector; and the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, which is gearing up to become Australia’s cruising capital. Brisbane International Cruise Terminal also received a ‘special mention’ in the category.

ELENA GOSSE NAMED THE COURIER-MAIL’S BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Elena Gosse, CEO of AIS Water, was named the The Courier-Mail’s Business Person of the Year, for growing her Brisbane innovation and manufacturing operations to export to 55 countries around the world. The award was presented on the night by The Courier Mail editor, Chris Jones.

In her award speech Ms Gosse paid tribute to other leading business people nominated in 2022, Cryptologic Technology Group founder and chairman, Jamie Wilson; Paypa Plane co-founder and CEO Simone Joyce; and Stoddart Group managing director Jon Stoddart.

AIS Water is an innovative, multi-award-winning manufacturer of water disinfection technology and anode material for swimming pools and future clean energy applications that has gone international from its Brisbane headquarters and manufacturing base. Under Ms Gosse’s leadership, AIS Water constructed and opened its third Brisbane manufacturing facility in 2022 at a cost of $9 million.

AIS’s reputation for  excellence in the field is recognised worldwide, with its technology exported to over 55 countries. Ms Gosse is also well-known for giving back to her community by empowering other women to find their voice and embrace female leadership. Elena Gosse is also an in-demand  public speaker and advocate against domestic and family violence. (See separate story on Elena Gosse.)

JON STODDART HONOURED WITH BRISBANE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards has only presented a Lifetime Achievement Award a handful of times in the past – and 2022 was one of those occasions when Stoddart Group managing director Jon Stoddart was honoured.

As Australia’s largest supplier and installer of building products, Stoddart Group is an integral part of the national housing landscape, servicing more than 30,000 homes each year – about one quarter of all new homes built across Australia annually.

With a company mission all about creating solutions that deliver a better way to build, Jon Stoddart is passionate about helping builders deliver better performing, more environmentally responsible houses.

Under Mr Stoddart’s leadership, this family-owned business has evolved from its humble beginnings to now turn over $400 million a year and employ more than 600 employees and 2,000-plus subcontractors, with 31 branches across the eastern and western seaboards of Australia.

“I am truly humbled to have received this award and accept it on behalf of my family and the amazing team at Stoddart Group, who work incredibly hard every day to provide our customers with solutions that deliver a better way to build,” Mr Stoddart said.

Cr Schrinner said he hoped the recognition of all business that took part in the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards would inspire even greater growth and investment in Brisbane. 

“As we prepare for a decade of city-defining change in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I want local businesses to have every chance to thrive and succeed,” he said.

“Together we will create long-lasting change and opportunities that will be enjoyed for generations.”

www.choosebrisbane.com.au

Category

Winner

CCIQ Award for Outstanding Small Business

Audeara Limited

Accenture Australia Award for Product Innovation

Vaxxas Pty Ltd

Urban Utilities Award for Environmental Sustainability in Business

Save Our Supplies Ltd

Hutchinson Builders Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise

Australian Spatial Analytics Ltd

Xero Award for Outstanding Micro Business

Kiddo

HSBC Award for Excellence in International Business

Populous

Australia Pacific LNG Award for Business Innovation

DoubleTake Sports Pty Ltd

ANZ Award for High-Growth Business

simPRO

ISPT Award for Investment in Brisbane

The Princess Theatre

Port of Brisbane Award for Young Business Person of the Year

Dr James Fielding – Founder, Audeara

The Courier-Mail Award for Business Person of the Year

Elena Gosse OAM – CEO, AIS Water

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jon Stoddart – MD of Stoddart Group

Optus Platinum Award

simPRO

 

ends

AIS Water CEO Elena Gosse named Business Person of the Year in Brisbane LMBAs

THERE ARE TWO reasons Elena Gosse has won so many business and community awards over the past two decades. The first is her company’s global commitment to providing safe, simple and smart water disinfection technology for commercial and residential swimming pools – and this is closely followed by the contributions she makes to community.

Last Friday night, the AIS Water CEO added another prized acclamation when she was officially named Business Person of the Year at the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (LMBAs) presented at a gala ceremony at Brisbane City Hall. 

Ms Gosse, who is this year celebrating AIS Water’s 30th anniversary, said she was proud her company’s innovative and water saving technology was now operating in more than 55 countries.

“This is a year of celebration for us, as we look back and recognise our hard work and the evolution of our technology from swimming pool disinfection to exploring future clean, green energy,” the Brisbane-based business owner said.

In June, Elena Gosse received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her service to manufacturing and to the community, acknowledging her ongoing work in advocacy and fundraising for the prevention of domestic and family violence, her personal mentoring of women into leadership roles and her public speaking engagements.

“The Lord Mayor’s Business Person of the Year award caps off a fabulous year of recognition both for our company and myself personally,” Ms Gosse said. “It is just that little bit extra special having faced a few years of uncertainty and challenges, as all businesses have in the face of COVID.

“In this time, we continued trading as an essential business and were fortunate to retain all our staff, add new employees in new roles and build our third manufacturing facility at a cost of $9 million, where we continue to develop world-leading water disinfection technology.”

Brisbane City Council describes the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards as recognising “the best and most innovative businesses and entrepreneurs in Brisbane”.

“The awards centre on the energy, drive and passion behind businesses in any commercial or industrial sector contributing to the growth of Brisbane’s economy,” Council states. “A diverse range of businesses and businesspeople have been named winners since the awards started, highlighting excellence, success and those who think outside the square - all trademarks of Brisbane’s business community.”

The three other finalists for this year’s Business Person of the Year were Jamie Wilson of Cryptoloc, Simone Joyce of Paypa Plane and Jonathon Stoddart of Stoddart Group who also received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms Gosse, who was also named as a finalist in the 2021 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards, said she felt honoured to be in the company of such accomplished and successful Brisbane-based entrepreneurs.

“I find attending award nights such as the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards allows me the opportunity to meet some incredible business people, to network and to share our stories,” Ms Gosse said.

“To be twice listed as a Business Person of the Year finalist for the Lord Mayor’s Awards and to then be named the winner, when I am in such esteemed company, is humbling while encouraging me to continue to strive to be the best business woman I can be.

 “It is always exciting to win awards. But our day-to-day business is developing ground-breaking pool chlorination systems so our focus now turns back to the job at hand.”

Ms Gosse and AIS Water have won acclaim in the LMBAs before, in 2014, and have won awards from the Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence, the Stevie Awards, the Women in Business Awards of Australia, a Dancing CEOs award and regular finalist honours in the Telstra Business Awards, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Queensland Premier’s Awards among many others.

www.aiswater.com.au

www.elenagosse.com.au

Elena Gosse TEDx Talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_DcpVn1fkY

ends

Cultural change required for Australia to overcome COVID says CEDA panel

MANAGING an ‘open Australia’ will require a re-evaluation of city and workplace design. That is the consensus of an expert Pandemic to Endemic discussion series panel recently convened by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and sponsored by GSK Australia.

The panel discussion, titled Proofing against future pandemics, focused on how health, smart cities and resilient workplaces should inform Australia’s success as the Australian public and business leaders learn to live with COVID-19.

GSK Australia and New Zealand head of human resources, David Fitz-Gerald said building resilience into the workplace required a change in culture. 

“GSK is known as an innovator in medicines and vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to take further steps forward as an innovative workplace,’’ Mr Fitz-Gerald said.

“It prompted us to find new ways to support our people to thrive. We have applied a new philosophy of ‘flex-pathy’, providing our workforce with ‘maximum flexibility’, coupled with clear and consistent communication. This philosophy was embedded while also ensuring a sustained focus on our company goals.” 

Mr Fitz-Gerald also said companies that apply lessons from the pandemic would reap the benefits when it comes to attracting talent in competitive labour markets.

“Looking to the future, we created a framework, called Performance with Choice, which is brought to life in our culture, not in policy. We encourage our people to have open conversations to identify ways of working that support their performance and their team and to feel safe and secure knowing that this flexibility is available to them.” 

RE-EVALUATE CITIES

Arup's Australasian Cities leader and panellist, Malcolm Smith said re-evaluating Australians' "approach to the way we design our cities for work, education and leisure" will be important in the management of pandemics into the future.  

“Cities are not just about physical structures, they are representations of our social and economic aspirations," Mr Smith said. "When we have our cities disrupted, it affects all of those aspects.

"We need to understand re-integration of those aspects as we come out of disruption and model new scenarios with the lessons we’ve learnt.

“This includes seeing an increase in local trends, provision of services and changes to the composition and concentration of city centres. This has consistently played out in the pandemic as we saw inequitable access to open space across the world," Mr Smith said.

“We now have the digital capacity to monitor the impact of disruption and its social effect on our cities – and we need to use it. We need to model our cities for multiple-use scenarios and have a conversation about making this a requirement for city design, like some countries in Europe.” 

SMART TECHNOLOGY A 'CRITICAL LEVER'

Siemens ANZ CEO and panellist, Jeff Connolly emphasised "smart technology as a critical lever" to address the global challenges of pandemics.

“We used to be bricks and steel only, but now we've got fully intelligent buildings and infrastructure. Pandemics require the real-time response that technology can provide, helping us to address the challenges of future pandemics," Mr Connolly said. 

“At the start of the COVID-19, we used a lot of preventative measures with some of them proving unnecessary later. This was all because our environments were not designed to contain a virus like COVID-19. We now have an opportunity to use smart technology so we can design these environments with purpose.

“Digitalisation is at the heart of the solution. Smart technology is already being used in purpose-built locations like the National Gallery of Victoria. Solutions like increased filtration, UV lighting and ionization mean we’re able to address the challenges of the disrupted cities we now live in.”

The CEDA panel discussion was facilitated by Deloitte Access Economics partner Mel Miller and was the second in a series of three sessions that focus on Australia’s post-pandemic future.

The next Pandemic to Endemic panel discussion will be held in February 2022.

www.ceda.org.au

ends

Global cities summit launches in Brisbane today

FROM AUSTRALIA to Mongolia, city leaders, policymakers and businesses are preparing to create global opportunities and strengthen international networks as the Asia Pacific Cities Summit (APCS) launches its first full conference day in Brisbane this morning. 

The three-day Summit — which will attract more than 600 key decision-makers and influencers from 74 cities — is a catalyst for enabling partnerships and knowledge sharing between cities and business to shape urban agendas and strengthen global trade and investment links. 

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said APCS wpould offer delegates an impressive line-up of internationally renowned speakers and curated sessions in line with the theme of ‘Redefining Cities through Opportunities and Challenges’. 

“The number of people attending this year’s event – either in-person or virtually – is incredibly strong, particularly considering the wider challenges this country and the world is facing,” Cr Schrinner said.   

“2021APCS is a golden opportunity to focus on the benefits and start planning for the world's biggest sporting event, being held in Brisbane in 2032. 

“Following the APCS Mayors’ Forum on Wednesday, the 61st Governor of Maryland and former Director of Infrastructure for the London Olympic Delivery Authority, Simon Wright OBE, will deliver his keynote address today. 

“There will also be a special showcase from key figures behind the successful London, Tokyo and Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as a panel on aviation's role in reigniting tourism, events, art and entertainment with executives from Brisbane Airport, Auckland Airport and Air New Zealand.” 

On Friday, former Paralympian and gold medallist Kurt Fearnley AO will headline the morning session, following a project showcase on Brisbane Metro. 

Cr Schrinner said running throughout the Summit will be the APCS Hybrid Exhibition, an interactive virtual space where sponsors and exhibitors will showcase their brand, services and products.  

“APCS provides a platform for community leaders and local businesses to leverage the exposure of Brisbane 2032 and promote their capacity and capability to foreign businesses,” Cr Schrinner said. 

“By facilitating these invaluable connections and partnerships, we hope to build on the success of previous Summits held here in Brisbane and cement our status as a global city.” 

Since its inception, APCS has been held 12 times across six cities, alternating between Brisbane and an international host city every two years. 

2021APCS is being held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and virtually.

www.apcsummit.org.  

ends

Challenges in how working from home should really work – Pitney Bowes

FLEXIBILITY and productivity are held up as shining examples of the benefits that remote working can deliver during the pandemic lockdowns – and many businesses have now permanently adopted hybrid working practices.

While this can continue to deliver significant benefits to organisations and employees alike, it is vital that business leaders consider ways to continually improve the hybrid working approach, according to Pitney Bowes.

Stephen Darracott, the vice president and country manager for Pitney Bowes Japan, Australia and New Zealand said, “The past 18 months have been disruptive yet transformative as companies have adapted to doing business during a pandemic. This has demonstrated how essential it is for businesses to provide alternative working models for their staff to produce great work. 

“However, with the impacts of this situation continuing to develop, taking note of what is working and what can be improved on will help drive further opportunity and growth for businesses.”

For this reason, Mr Darracott warned, it was important for businesses to reflect on key considerations for staff and customers when it comes to remote working.

“Now that remote and hybrid working environments are becoming the norm, it’s essential for businesses to continue to proactively manage the way they support employees and customers,” Mr Darracott said.

“Getting the balance right can help businesses stand out from the crowd and compete more effectively even in a challenging landscape.”

Mr Darracott said Pitney Bowes research had revealed a range of clear and helpful touchpoints:

CONSIDERATIONS FOR STAFF

Connection
Despite not being in the same physical workspace, remote working should not equal isolation. Regular formal meetings and informal check-ins with team members are essential in fortifying bonds between colleagues. Communication channels should be varied and provide options for all staff to participate and share their thoughts. Honest and open communications about how the business is performing can create trust, particularly in an increasingly virtual business world.

Processes and tools
With staff splitting time between workstations, organisation of home and in person offices should be clear and communicated to all staff, with the end goal to keep everyone up to date on the status of accounts. Additional software to digitise files is another great option to save information being lost in translation. Accounting programs, shipping software, and human resources (HR) systems can all work to keep staff and business owners accountable regardless of office location.

Boundaries and burnout
Although commutes may have disappeared and chores may be completed on lunchbreaks, working from home can still incite high levels of stress, comparable to that experienced in traditional offices. In some cases, the lack of physical distance from a workspace can result in the perceived need for longer hours or immediate deadlines. It is essential to continue to monitor employee stress and mental health levels to prevent burnout.

Mindfulness and wellbeing
Another area to consider during these times is mindfulness, which can positively impact a workplace in many areas including through reducing stress, absenteeism and presenteeism. Mindfulness helps to increase resilience and focus, and to create a creative and productive work environment. Check in regularly to see how teams are feeling and if they need additional support. Encourage employees to take breaks during the day whether they be mindful breaks or active ones.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR CUSTOMERS

Be prepared
As the longer-term effects of the pandemic begin to set in, teams need to be agile and prepared to serve customer needs in new and efficient ways. This means team members need to know how to execute processes both at home and in the office and supplier contacts need to be able to deal with quick turn arounds or last-minute changes. It is essential to put these building blocks in place to prepare for the unexpected.

Put the client first
It is important for clients to know that the business is in their corner, particularly during challenging times. As changes occur in the workplace, it can be useful to increase levels of client communication to provide support or offer relevant information. Customer service needs to remain the number one priority, be it face-to-face, online, via phone, or over a video call. By staying up to date with each client’s unique situation, businesses can better anticipate their needs.

Leverage data
While data can be used to process orders, monitor the health of a business, or inform which products or services will need to be provided next, it can also help inform the strategy behind customer service. Leveraging available data can let businesses prioritise customer needs and offer tailored solutions in the short term. It can also help project potential services customers may need in the future, letting staff fortify customer relationships.

www.pitneybowes.com

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How will vaccine passports actually play out?

By Leon Gettler >>

ONE OF THE BIG issues now is getting vaccination passports for international travel.

However, doctor Ted Dunstone, founder of Biometix and Bixelab – one of only two labs in the world accredited for international biometric identity standards – a world-renowned biometric and identity expert, has predicted we will wait some time before a passport is developed that works internationally.

“It’s hard to imagine it will be sooner than another six months,” Dr Dunstone told Talking Business. “There is a significant demand at the moment around this. I don’t think the time horizon for this will be years, but it might be up to 12 months

Dr Dunstone said developing a passport was critical for “getting life back to normal”. 

“There needs to be broad agreement internationally on the way forward on this and it has been very difficult to find the right forum for that broad agreement,” he said.

“If the international standards are not set up properly, the outcome would be you would have bilateral or multilateral agreements, but you can’t just take your passport and have it recognised anywhere – which is of course what’s really needed.”

Passport to better world health

Dr Dunstone said a range of international institutions were now working on this problem. These included the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the European Union (EU), which has a vaccine passport internally.

He said the IATA app seemed to be the leading contender. Because IATA represents the aviation industry, it comes with a lot of credentials.

Dr Dunstone said the IATA app is now being tested and has been adopted by a number of air carriers. If enough carriers accepted it, it would create the momentum for the IATA app to become the global standard.

“We’re yet to see a real consensus on exactly the right path forward but there are some leading contenders,” he said.

One of the issues, he said, was that there were different vaccines and different views about their efficacy.

“It’s entirely possible that you will end up with some vaccines being recognised in one place and not in another,” Dr Dunstone said.

For example, one needs to be vaccinated with Sinovax before one can enter China.

“Obviously, the vaccine passport will need to record enough information so that the recipient country can make sure that the person really has got a vaccine that’s compatible with their risk level.”

Verifiable background detail is the key

The passport would also have to specify the conditions under which the vaccine was administered, as well as the location where it was administered.

That said, we are still a long way from having a system of internationally accredited vaccine passports.

“It’s surprising to me how long this process has taken, given that everybody has known it is critically important,” Dr Dunstone said. “But it shows you how difficult these multilateral things from a global perspective really are to push through

“We need to make sure that when these schemes are adopted, that they are obviously internationally recognised, that they’ve got the right information but they don’t overshare information. You don’t want to have vaccine passport hesitancy.”

Dr Dunstone said there had already been instances documented pointing to a black market in vaccine passports, with people presenting false certificates of vaccines.

“We’re heading into a world where those who’ve been vaccinated will enjoy privileges and those privileges will not be insignificant,” he said.

“So there will be a market place for those who haven’t had, or can’t get vaccinations to try and circumvent that.” 

www.biometix.com

www.leongettler.com 

 

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

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Tenants Queensland calls for urgent re-think on new ‘renting fair’ legislation

QUEENSLAND HOUSING Minister, Leeanne Enoch introduced proposed legislation last week that “would see tenants at the whim of the well-funded real estate lobby” according to a community action group backed by more than 50 organisations.

The Make Renting Fair Queensland campaign is supported by over 50 community organisations and it has come out strongly outlining their combined disappointment with the mixed bag of changes to the government’s new proposed legislation, after waiting more than 30 months.

Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, the state’s tenant advisory specialists, supported the government’s move to make rentals more pet friendly and introduce minimum standards, but expressed strong concern for the lack of protections for battling renters from unfair evictions.

“Our staff received over 14,000 calls in March this year,” Ms Carr said. “This just shows how many Queensland renters, and their families, are in housing distress and are facing crisis point.”

Ms Carr is concerned the proposals have been watered down to the point where they undermine the current tenancy laws, by introducing more grounds to end tenancies when the tenant is not in breach. 

“We advocated new grounds to end tenancies, but only with the view to removing the ability to end tenancies without grounds,” Ms Carr said. “The government has done the former but not the latter.” 

Make Renting Fair is concerned the proposed legislation was watered down following “a scare campaign run by the well-funded real estate lobby”.

The ability to undertake minor modifications has been removed from the proposals completely. 

Queenslanders with Disability Network CEO Paige Armstrong said she was worried that people with disability would be impacted by this.

“Minor modifications like the addition of a shower or other rails make places safer for tenants with little impact upon the appearance and structural integrity of a property,” Ms Armstrong said.

“What we hear from our members is that they are often reluctant to contact their real estate in fear of a backlash like ending their tenancy or not renewing their lease,” she said.

People experiencing domestic and family violence and older women are among the people reliant on private rental homes.

Q Shelter director Fiona Caniglia said the proposals included very important protections for people experiencing domestic violence. However, without protection from unfair evictions, many people will continue to live in properties in poor repair and be forced to move frequently. 

This causes poverty and people experience significant instability, she said.
 
“We know that older women are one of the fastest growing groups of people facing homelessness across our state,” Ms Caniglia said. “These are women who have worked their entire lives, raised families, paid taxes and they are left with virtually nothing and sometimes, not even with a place to call home.”

Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh said the State Government demonstrated that they recognised their responsibility to act on housing insecurity in the State Budget this week, but the 1.8 million Queenslanders who rent cannot be forgotten.

“The most important factor of the government’s prior commitment to rental reform was protecting tenants from unfair evictions. This bill does nothing to improve the status quo,” Ms McVeigh said.

“It defies belief that minimum standards for air and ventilation have been dropped from the reforms. If a person or company can afford to invest in property, they can afford to ensure a tenant has enough light and air.

“We need reform that ensures that all Queenslanders have access to safe, secure and certain housing, whether that be social housing or privately renting.”

www.makerentingfairqld.org.au

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