In celebration of National Families Week, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all our participants and partners for their contribution towards the success of Apeketon Business Hub. This year's theme, "Embracing Diversity, Strengthening Families", resonates deeply with our mission. We are excited to share some updates from the Family Money Management sessions, which are a testament to our collective efforts in building economic resilience in Lihir.

Our mission to build economic resilience in Lihir involves strengthening families through financial empowerment and income stability. The Family Money Management sessions help families manage their income, set savings goals, and create budgets that align with their financial objectives.

The April sessions drew participants from Zuen and Londolovit villages, and the cohort included members of all six major clans in Lihir. 

The Bank South Pacific Lihir Branch and Niu Ailan Savings and Loan Society presented during the training sessions. They encouraged attendees to prioritise their savings to facilitate their short-term and long-term financial objectives.

Merleyne Soralien, who participated in the second program, shared her feedback,

"I am delighted to have attended this training. I engage in informal market sales, I struggled with managing my finances effectively. This training has been immensely beneficial, equipping me with the knowledge and skills to budget and save money efficiently not only to sustain my family but also achieve my future savings goals."

This program is in partnership with Lihir Gold Limited (LGL), a subsidiary of Newmont Corporation

As our Capable Communities program draws to a close, our ABV team is hitting the road to celebrate, thank and reflect with the communities we’ve walked alongside since 2022.  

ABV is proud to have been on this journey with communities across the shires of Snowy Valley, Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Queanbeyan-Palerang to create lasting short- and long-term solutions to building the resilience necessary to withstand the environmental challenges to come. 

An overview of the program:

Since October 2022, we have facilitated almost 1,000 hours (about 1 and a half months) of pro bono work over 25 ABV projects with 25 ABV Skilled Business Professionals (volunteers), 6 Arup pro bono projects with 26 infrastructure engineers and technical specialists as well as 14 industry expert volunteers across 3 ABV economic resilience and cultural fire projects. 

Among the projects completed since 2022, several stand out as significant highlights in our efforts to support disaster preparedness and economic resilience in regional communities. The co-facilitated Cultural Burning Conference with the Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council (BBLALC) emerged as a pivotal event to foster collaboration among Local Aboriginal Land Councils, emergency services, and government agencies on cultural burning practices.  

The economic resilience workshops, conducted in partnership with the Tumbarumba Chamber of Commerce and the Braidwood and Villages Business Chamber, helped strengthen local businesses, preparing them for the unpredictable and volatile economic circumstances that come with increased climate disasters. Hazard mapping exercises developed in Eden and Tumbarumba, in collaboration with Disaster Relief Australia (DRA), resulted in the formation of working groups and community-led initiatives to bolster disaster response capabilities.

These projects, alongside collaborations such as brokering relationships and partnerships, for example, between the BBLALC and the Braidwood community, exemplify our dedication to fostering resilient networks and partnerships across sectors. 

Capable Communities Roadshow event information (17 -21 June):

During the week of 17-21 June, the ABV team of Oscar, George, Natascha, and Moneesha will be holding a series of meetings across the region with the NSW Reconstruction Authority.

These sessions aim to further develop the community stakeholders' disaster and economic resilience projects. As ABV continues to advocate for communities to lead their resilience-building activities and shape improved public policy and resources to facilitate a community-led model. These meetings will also include an evaluation component to assess how our program outcomes were achieved. 
This project is being facilitated by Australian Business Volunteers and is funded by the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) which is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments. 

"Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool. We all, as humans, learn through storytelling," - Susan Goldie.

Susan Goldie has dedicated her life to humanitarian work, including mental health education, better end-of-life care, poverty reduction, and economic empowerment.

Susan joined us as a volunteer in November 2023 and has started working with our Nauru team on capacity building of local small-medium businesses. Susan's work supports the Nauru Private Sector Development Roadmap program, a 4-year partnership between ABV and the Nauru Chamber of Commerce to help foster closer collaboration across private, public and community sectors in support of Nauru's National Sustainable Development Strategy.

A key opportunity for Nauruan small businesses was the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant, held in Nauru in January 2024. This important regional pageant celebrating Pacific cultures was a landmark event for Nauru to host, and many small businesses, such as vendors, sole traders, and goods and service providers, stepped up to the challenge. 

The previous year's Miss Pacific Islands winner, Josie Nicholas, advocated for increased youth involvement in sustainable tourism. This youth-led approach to building sustainable tourism resonates with the vision set by the Sustainable Tourism Working Group, established in 2023 as part of the Roadmap's implementation, to support closer collaboration between private sector, government and community stakeholders to achieve shared sustainable tourism goals. 

Susan played a crucial role in conducting workshops for local vendors, volunteers, and hosts in preparation for the Pageant. These hybrid workshops, a highly tailored iteration of ABV's signature YES Program, were co-delivered by Susan with another ABV volunteer, Marcus Alexander, along with Jennifer Harris, the Nauru Chamber of Commerce's Business Hub Manager. The workshops covered essential aspects of customer service, work health and safety, and financial tools to start and grow a business. 

Image: Volunteers Liane, Matt, Susan and Marcus facilitating workshops from online with Jenn Harris (Nauru Business Hub Manager)

One of Susan's unique approaches includes educating through her lived experience. "Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool. We all, as humans, learn through storytelling," she said. In her other community roles, Susan uses storytelling as a way to break down mental health stigma by delivering talks in schools and sharing her lived experience as a carer for someone with a mental health condition.  

Outside of ABV, Susan is a board member of a community-owned mortuary service that supports people who struggle to pay for their loved ones' funerals and connects local organisations to better serve their community's needs in times of grief and loss.

Beyond her humanitarian work, Susan finds solace in Taiko drumming, a mind, body, and soul workout she discovered during her first trip to Japan. "The drums can be so large that you need a crane to bring them in; it's an amazing art form. I leave the studio after drumming feeling so refreshed and clear-headed."

Susan was excited to join ABV and contribute to sustainable change-making. "The theme of all my volunteering is to build capacity and empower people, which very much aligns with ABV's mission, and that's what drew me to the organisation," Susan said. 

When asked what made Susan choose ABV, she said, "ABV is working in such a streamlined way; no one is indispensable, and people are valued. ABV continues momentum but never becomes the destination; they are the wind in the sails of the next community."

We feel privileged to have a volunteer with such diverse and meaningful experience. Thank you, Susan!

Image: Susan and her daughter hosting the Vinnies Community Sleepout in Western Sydney.

ABV, in partnership with BSP Samoa, has launched a program to support Micro, Small, and Medium businesses in Samoa. The YES Grow program offers a three-week workshop series with six months of ongoing online coaching and mentoring provided by ABV's experienced Skilled Business Volunteers. 

The program aims to help businesses in Samoa succeed by providing mentorship, access to resources, and networking opportunities. This collaboration between ABV and BSP Samoa has been in place since 2018, and successful programs run in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

"We are thrilled to partner with BSP Samoa to introduce this transformative MSME Mentoring and Coaching Program," said Liz Mackinlay, CEO at ABV. "Our goal is to equip MSMEs in Samoa with the tools, knowledge, and networks necessary to thrive in today's competitive landscape." 

Through customised, sustainable, and practical solutions, YES helps businesses reach their full potential and contribute to Samoa's sustainable economic growth.

This partnership is part of ABV's broader efforts across the Asia Pacific region, bridging business expertise with community needs. By empowering local businesses, ABV and BSP Samoa aim to drive growth and innovation in Samoa and support the development of a strong and vibrant local economy.

Image: Representatives from the businesses of the YES Grow Program attended the launch event.

ABV was brought in to work alongside the Braidwood Villages Business Chamber to do what we do best: bringing in experts and strengthening the chamber's networks.  After regular meetings and consultations, a tourism corridor project was discussed. This project is the brainchild of ABV’s volunteer, Professor Brian Roberts, who has replicated this successful model in several developing countries for the United Nations.

The purpose of the Tourism Corridor is to facilitate the recovery of businesses in disaster-affected areas by boosting tourism. Tourism corridors link groups of tourism assets together such as wineries and biking trails, motivating visitors to explore the area. This drives up trade for local businesses, which is crucial to building back post fires.

Within those networks, ABV has brought in tourism leaders from Canberra, New Zealand, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and the South Coast. Since August 2023, we've been working on the Braidwood Regional Brand, defining the region's strongest offerings. We recently organised a workshop inviting the wider community to pitch new tourism ideas. Despite the Braidwood Villages Business Chamber being able to select only five pitches, we had over 20 fantastic entrants. This workshop is a testament to the progress the chamber is making towards a stronger economy, becoming stronger against future natural hazards.

Image: Adam Nye and Andrew White presenting their pitch from the Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council.

We express our heartfelt gratitude to the stakeholders who have played a pivotal role in this project's success, including Braidwood Villages Business Chamber, Enterprise Plus, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Tourism, University of Canberra, Braidwood Community Association, Braidwood Visitor Information Centre, Bulah Delah Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Development West Coast (NZ), our volunteer Professor Brian Roberts, and our facilitator, Natascha Wernick.

Your contributions have been instrumental in our journey towards a stronger tourism corridor.

The Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments

#communityresilience #community #capacitybuilding #economicresilience #businessresilience #disasterpreparedness

Big Congratulations to the February graduates of our Family Money Management program! Run by dedicated local staff at the Apeketon Business Hub in Lihir, Papua New Guinea, this initiative equips families with essential tools for financial planning, budgeting, and saving.

It's truly inspiring to witness participants taking concrete steps towards their savings goals, paving the way for brighter futures for their families. Empowering communities to thrive begins with imparting financial freedom through knowledge and skills.

This program is in partnership with Lihir Gold Limited (LGL), a subsidiary of Newmont Corporation.

Our partner, Arup, has been providing technical expertise to our programs in Australia for almost 4 years, and we are beyond grateful for all the knowledge and experience their team brings.

We grow more substantial businesses and local economies to build disaster resilience, and Arup's contribution of highly specialised skills has been invaluable to the communities we serve. This partnership is a commitment to leveraging specialist expertise and delivering it where it's most needed.

Their estimated contribution of more than $100,000 worth of services to our programs is a testament to their dedication to helping communities rebuild and prosper after natural disasters.

The team of Arup specialists, including quantity surveyors, hydrologists, engineers, and environmental scientists, are dedicated to providing their expertise to help communities.

We want to extend a special thank you to Michelle Cheah, Melanie Grills, Trish Sunga, Edward Rowe, Madison Downey, Frankie Coen, Justin Peachey, Michael James, Angel Z., Gaenor Gibbs-Harris, Annabel Kerr, Joshua Atkinson, Vincent Chan Kun Wa and Christopher Serrano for their dedication and expertise. The impact of ABV's mission is amplified due to their contributions.

Image 1 (Header): Michelle Cheah (Arup’s Australasia Community Engagement Manager/Social Impact Leader) at the Cultural Burning Conference 2023 participating in the group brainstorm.

Image: Melanie Grills (Arup’s Associate Principal of First Nations Programs & Projects) and Oscar Mussons (ABV’s Program Director of Australia Programs) signing in participants at the Cultural Burning Conference 2023.

Image 3: Edward Rowe (Arup’s Resilience and Adaptation Lead for NSW/ACT and the Pacific) supported the Cobargo Visioning Workshops with ABV which brought together Cobargo’s community to share ideas and create disaster action plans.

Image 4: Christopher Serrano (Arup Senior Environmental Consultant), Madison Downey (Arup Environmental Scientist), Thanda Bennett and George Barrett (ABV Australia Programs Team) Amanda Foster (Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council) meeting.

The Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments

Australian Business Volunteers submitted a statement to the Senate Select Committee on Australia's Disaster Resilience. The committee aims to investigate the roles of different entities, including the Australian Defence Force, volunteer groups, not-for-profit organisations, and state-based services. Its purpose is to determine the necessary support to improve Australia's resilience and response to natural disasters. 

Our submission is based on our deep experience working in multiple areas affected by natural disasters in New South Wales and Victoria. It stresses the importance of community-led approaches and place-based models in disaster resilience efforts.  

Our recommendations encourage a collaborative approach, bringing together stakeholders such as community leaders, organisations, charities, emergency services, and government agencies. We believe this collaborative effort is essential to avoid working in isolation and to effectively support preparedness and recovery efforts.  

Read full submission here (see submission #162)

Meet Corina Jadai, a proud Martu woman from the Broome region of Western Australia. 
Since joining our program in 2023, Corina has been thriving under the guidance of her amazing volunteer mentor, Liz Reece.
Corina is an incredibly talented creative who has found success in the fields of art and graphic design. Currently, she is venturing into the exciting realm of First Nations fashion.
Recently, Corina had the opportunity to showcase her work, business ideas, and reflections on her program experience with our CEO, Liz Mackinlay. Liz was thrilled to hear how Corina’s mentor and the Martu program team has been helpful to Corina in her creative journey.
Corina is pictured here with the ABV team, Garth James PreeceBrigitte White and CEO Liz Mackinlay, on a recent visit to Perth to see the program in action. 
This trip was a part of ABV's dedication to supporting First Nations entrepreneurs develop and launch their business in Western Australia.

Image: Allan and Shirley in their Woodend Rotary uniforms.  

For most of their lives, Allan and Shirley have done everything together. Their lifelong partnership intertwines with work, volunteering and their enthusiasm for travel. Through volunteering, they have travelled across the Pacific to the Soloman Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji with Australian Business Volunteers and other international agencies. 

"Allan found the assignments, but I always went with him. We are the Coles 2 for 1 special," says Shirley. 

Image: Allan and Shirley with the President of the Indigenous Business Council Fiji and his staff 2016. 

Their first ABV assignment was in Vanuatu in 2006, where they helped two small businesses start up. This experience led to their passion for helping small businesses, which continued for the next two decades. In 2017, the Vanuatu Department of Industry asked them to develop a Strategic Plan for the Manufacturing Industry in Vanuatu.  

This project led to further assignments in 2021/22 to create a Manufacturing Standard of best practices for safety and financial reporting to help businesses grow and become legitimate. Since 70% of Vanuatu's income comes from tourism, the region must build resilience against inevitable travel disruptions by developing other core industries. 

Image: Presentation of attendance awards to participants of the Business Training course we ran for the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in 2017. 

When they aren't volunteering, Allan and Shirley have plenty to do on their leafy five acres in Woodend North in the Macedon ranges (70 km from Melbourne). Between gardening and maintenance, Allan loves picking up and trying new musical instruments.  

They have devoted their lives to serving their community. Allan has been a member of Rotary for 33 years, the last 12 with the Rotary Club of Woodend, while Shirley has been a member of the Red Cross for 10 years, with 7 years spent in the Emergency Services; she is also an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Woodend. 

Currently, they are working on a disaster resilience ABV assignment to help develop a business plan for the Compost Club in East Gippsland.  

"We are taking it slowly, giving the innovator time to make changes. It's a step-by-step process, but we are getting there," says Shirley.  

The Compost Club aims to reduce food waste by providing educational programs about composting and sustainable practices. Building community organizations and small businesses is crucial to creating a more robust local economy more resilient to natural disasters. 

We are grateful to have volunteers like Allan and Shirley in our ABV family. We feel incredibly proud that they recently received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) at the Australia Day Awards.  

Our ABV volunteers have given over 10,444 days of volunteering work during the last four years of our Disaster Recovery programs in NSW and VIC. This is equivalent to more than 41 people working full-time over three years. 

Image: Picture of students outside the new school the Woodend Rotary built in a remote village in Vanuatu. Allan and Shirley travelled to Vanuatu in February for the opening.  

Are you feeling inspired to give back? Whether it's volunteering locally or abroad, your contribution matters. Take the first step today by expressing your interest in volunteering with us at Volunteer - Australian Business Volunteers (

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