Just Jeans, Lorna Jane, Myer on Oxfam's critical Naughty list

OXFAM WANTS MAJOR FASHION retailers and brands in Australia – such as Just Jeans, Lorna Jane, Myer and Peter Alexander – to be open about how and where they manufacture their clothes, to help lift the women who make them out of poverty.

Oxfam made the call ahead of the Black Friday and Christmas sales period, with the international development and human rights organisation released its updated Naughty or Nice list. The list is a crucial one for responsible fashion brands and retailers to be on the right side of in making commitments around living wages and avoiding being 'called out' to do better. 

Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said it was particularly unfortunate that some brands had failed to make commitments to ensure the payment of a living wage during the pandemic, "a time when the industry has grown yet many garment workers have lost their jobs". 

A living wage means enough money is earned to cover basic essentials for a family including food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transport, education and some money for unexpected events.  

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant, which is why transparency around issues of power, whether business or politics, is so important,” Ms Morgain said. 

“Three major clothing companies in Australia – Lorna Jane, Myer and The Just Group – have failed to take the basic step of publishing key information about where they manufacture their clothes. 

“It’s particularly disappointing to see brands that promote the wellbeing of women, such as Lorna Jane, failing to be transparent about the factories in which their clothes are made. This supports a culture of secrecy that is harmful to the wellbeing of all women, including those who make our clothes, and entrenches the massive power disparity between brands and garment workers.” 

While those three companies have found themselves on the Naughty list, others have taken positive steps towards backing up their commitment to a living wage. Those on the Nice list this year are Best & Less, Big W, Bonds, City Chic, Cotton On, Country Road, Dangerfield, David Jones, Forever New, Gorman, H&M, Kmart, Mosaic brands including Rivers and Katies, and Target. 

Oxfam’s recent report, Shopping for a Bargain, revealed that poor business practices – including aggressive price negotiation, inaccurate forecasting of orders, short lead times and last-minute changes to order – are having a profound impact on the lives of workers. 

“To help combat this, last year we asked brands to commit to separating out labour costs to ensure there was clarity between factories and brands about the expectations of payment to garment workers. It’s been so heartening to see so many brands step up to the plate,” Ms Morgain said. 

Meanwhile, other brands – such as Jeans West and Zara – have made some progress, but still have work to do to catch up to the Nice brands on their living wage journey. 

“What is at the heart of this issue is the garment workers – mainly women in low-income countries – who make our clothes. These women aren’t paid enough to build a better future for their children, because their low wages keep them in poverty. 

“It’s time for Australian brands to acknowledge and use the power they have to ensure these women are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty through the payment of a living wage.  

“This Christmas, we want shoppers to demand better from the brands they love so that our celebrations don’t come at the expense of the women who make our clothes and their families.” 

Oxfam's 2021 Naughty or Nice list is here

 

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New CBA-Lifeline partnership to help meet record mental health demand

A NEW $500,000 donation from Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is helping Lifeline meet record demand and support thousands of Australians in crisis, Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden and Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn said in a joint statement.. 

“Demand for Lifeline has smashed records this year and we’re on track to take more than 1.2 million calls by the end of the year," Lifeline's Mr Brogden said.

“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day, today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500 – a 40 percent increase.

“The good news is that with the support of partners like Commonwealth Bank, we’re answering more calls than ever before. Australians are reaching out for help and they are getting it, supported by generous donations like this,” Mr Brogden said.  

Commonwealth Bank's Mr Comyn said, "As many Australians continue to face a variety of personal challenges during these difficult times, we know that this is not just a physical health pandemic. 

“The impact on people's  mental health has been significant and should not be underestimated. It’s important that we acknowledge the huge contribution organisations like Lifeline make in providing care and assistance to people and communities when they need it most.

"We hope this contribution will allow Lifeline to support even more people when they reach out for help,” Mr Comyn said. 

Mr Brogden said a donation like this was crucial, with unprecedented demand expected to continue into the future with the pandemic and lockdown restrictions leaving a long tail of trauma in the community. 

“We want everyone to know that Lifeline is always there for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

“If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable. Phone us to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 13 11 14.” 

Lifeline is Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, operating the 13 11 14 telephone line within 40 centres around the nation.

www.lifeline.org.au

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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.

 

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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.

https://axonproperty.com.au/.

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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.

www.traction.community

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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.

www.accesseap.com.au

REFERENCES

[1] Cone Communications

[2] The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020

[3] Haworth, Raising the Bar 2017

[4] https://businessagility.institute/download/whitepaper-employee-engagement/?wpdmdl=4438&refresh=600e1e2a0fb5f1611537962

 

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