INSTITUTE of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive officer, Andrew Conway, delivered a moving and meaningful address to hundreds of delegates at the World Congress of Accountants in Sydney recently on dealing with threats to the mental health of small business leaders.

Professor Conway said IPA members were increasingly dealing with the mental health fallout of small-to-medium enterprise (SME) owners and leaders struggling with – and too often succumbing to – increasing levels of physical, emotional and financial stress.

“The real statistics are unfathomable, when over 1,000,000 people commit suicide each year – one every 40 seconds globally and estimated to grow to 1,500,000 each year by 2020,” Prof. Conway said. 

“As a profession, it is beyond time that we have a mature and robust discussion about this dilemma that faces our world.  Today, I am asking the profession to start this global discussion.

“Our research, and much more research will be done, points to the biggest stress points for small business owners, is the fact they are striving to survive.

“We were openly told real truths when we conducted our study over a 12 month period, such as: ‘I am doing well, but my business is killing me – I’m never there for my family; I went to a client with bandages on her wrists and I took her to the hospital to get professional help; I was told by a client that he couldn’t manage anymore, the phone call ended and I haven’t been able to contact him again’.

“As a profession, we cannot ignore our social responsibility. That does not mean we are the fixers but more the concierge service … that when we recognise our small business clients in stress, we guide them to ensure professional assistance and solutions are achievable.

“Our early studies show that when a small business client engages with their accountant, 95 percent of them feel a relief in their stress levels,” Prof. Conway said.

“We also know that people will turn to their accountant for advice well beyond compliance and audit requirements. This is the power of trust that is divested to us, and one which we must respect and live up to.

“Look at the statistics; they speak for themselves. Simply, the risk is too great – we cannot ignore our social value or responsibility.

“Collaboratively, we must agree on resourcing the appropriate tools and systems that enables us all to address this trend and hopefully, together, we can make a difference,” Prof. Conway said.

The IPA Group is the largest SME focused accountancy organisation in the world. The IPA is a member of the International Federation of Accountants, the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board and the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information in Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025:

For more information on Sodexo’s Stop Hunger program:

For more information on Foodbank’s Key Staples Program: donate-food/key-staples-program/


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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By Mike Sullivan >>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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