Our CEO, Liz Mackinlay, virtually presented at the International Conference of Sustainable Development (New York). She was part of a session alongside academics, industry experts, and even an enthusiastic student who spoke about Corporate Social Responsibility, which was heartwarming. The session primarily focused on assessing the progress made by the private sector in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Liz used ABV's partnerships with Newcrest, BSP and NAB as shining examples of outcome-driven partnerships with meaningful local impact. She spoke about how we foster trust with our partners, making ABV a sought-after source for advice on local communities and future planning.

Liz emphasised the issue of corporate waste in social initiatives, where resources are misdirected due to a lack of understanding of local needs. She illustrated this point with the example of creating excess waste by sending snowshoes to a region like Africa based on pooled donations from an office in a cold climate. This kind of charity is detrimental to the region the corporate are trying to help because the community's needs have not been considered in the planning process. This is why ABV takes a locally led approach, to honour the needs of the community we are working in and deliver real outcomes. 

One of the speakers commented on how our approach seems to offer a long-term solution where corporates have so often fallen into the chronic problem of only thinking short-term for social impact. The speaker commented on how our approach might be the "next generation" solution. 

Liz responded, "For a corporate looking at social responsibility as a branding or marketing opportunity, they are not going to want to invest in a program like ABV because we are far more transformative than transactional." As corporates recognise social license to operate and how vital ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governancetargets are for shareholders, they realise the importance of investing meaningfully in programs that create real change. 

A crucial aspect of our Martu Business Development Program involves implementing a mentoring initiative that aligns with community cultural values and business ambitions. 

Last week, our dedicated Volunteer Mentors, Sue McCoskerPascal Labouze, and Chris Maddock, travelled to Newcrest Telfer mine, in remote Western Australia with Anna Durward our Senior Program Manager, to personally engage with the Martu community members, marking the commencement of our mentoring program. We extend heartfelt gratitude to our mentors for their invaluable contributions.

The program commenced with success, and both the mentors and Martu community members expressed their gratitude to start on this 8-month collaborative journey together. The potential within Martu businesses is immense, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to support the Martu community in achieving economic self-determination.

We thank our partner, Newcrest Mining, for supporting our Martu Business Development Program.

Congratulations to our partner, the Nauru Chamber of Commerce (NCC), on the official launch of the Nauru Business Hub last week. This marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the Nauru Private Sector Development Roadmap which will strengthen Nauruan businesses. 

Picture below is Nauru Business Hub Manager, Jennifer Harris speaking at the launch event.

The Roadmap underscores the importance of collaboration between industries, fostering a dynamic private sector of local businesses, and contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Nauru, aligning with the Nauru Government's National Sustainable Development Strategy.

Representatives from across the Nauruan Government, as well as the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, the British High Commission, and the Australian High Commission, came together to celebrate this momentous occasion.

One such attendee who spoke was Nauru Chamber of Commerce Vice President, Paul Finch (pictured below).

We are looking forward to providing further training, coaching, mentoring, resources, and networking support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) throughout Nauru in collaboration with the NCC. Stay tuned for more updates!

Title photo: British High Commissioner Tom Coward, ABV SBP Evelyn Moolenburgh, Australian High Commissioner Dr Helen Cheney.

Expanding on our successful partnership in Lihir, Papua New Guinea, alongside Newcrest, we are thrilled to unveil a fresh collaboration as part of our First Nation Business Development Program in Western Australia.

Together, Newcrest Mining and ABV are dedicated to empowering the Martu community by enhancing businesses and nurturing entrepreneurial spirit.

Our approach remains firmly rooted in community leadership, with Senior Program Manager Anna Durward actively immersing herself alongside Telfer’s Social Performance team in Martu community. Anna has begun forging connections and gaining valuable insights into the evolving business requirements of the Martu Community.

Concurrently, we are actively exploring long-term strategies for ABV to provide continuous support for the Martu Community's ongoing business development initiatives.

View assignments page to apply to express interest to volunteer as a Business Development Mentor for this program.

Our CEO, Liz Mackinlay, was thrilled to be on a panel for a NAB colleague forum, where she showcased upcoming volunteering opportunities and highlighted our collaboration with NAB. This partnership began in 2017 with a co-design workshop between NAB and ABV. The partnership extended into supporting community recovery and preparedness post the black summer bushfires and continues to this day. Now our corporate skilled volunteering programs have reached communities across Victoria, supporting those affected by disasters.
The session reached thousands of NAB employees, with community partners and NAB staff together in the room. Liz Mackinlay spoke about how Louise Longley, NAB Head of Insurance, pioneered a solution for Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council. This innovation empowers Local Aboriginal Land Councils to offer accessible cultural burning services, potentially revolutionising disaster resilience for Australia and integrating First Nations practices into our land management systems.

View NAB CEO's post on the event here

Liz was alongside Mary French (Head of NAB Ready Together), who moderated the panel and fellow panellists Les Matheson, (NAB Group's Chief Operating Officer); Geoff Evans, (CEO Disaster Relief Australia) and Andrew Hill, (General Manager, Community Fundraising and PR Secretary, The Salvation Army). (All pictured in title image).

Supporting sustainable growth for small businesses and local entrepreneurs is key to ABV's work in strengthening communities. The Apeketon Business Hub (ABH) has supported local enterprises and entrepreneurs on Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea, with our partner Newcrest Mining since 2019.

Henry Ume-Taule, our Senior Program Manager, met with Augustine Tukas, Chairman, and Albert Negehove, Operations Manager from Kunaye Investments Limited, to review their business strategy. Kunaye Investments manages tourism and transport projects and has established itself as a reputable provider in the industry.

They are pictured above workshopping a comprehensive business plan to build capacity and scope new opportunities for their company. This was an excellent session for our team, and we are excited to follow the growth of Kunaye Investments.

At this year's Australian Disaster Resilience Conference Liz Mackinlay, our CEO had the honour of moderating a panel of courageous community leaders. ABV brought together this panel to bring community voices to this event. The panel had Zena Armstrong from Cobargo, Natascha Wernick from Byrll Creek and Melanie Bloor from Uki. Together, they explored how we can reimagine community disaster preparedness and response from the ground up.

The panel discussed the critical themes of resourcing community, supporting community leaders, respecting and amplifying existing social and economic capital and celebrating the sacred space of conversation. The group also emphasised the importance of connecting leaders at events like these because relationships and trust are what drive the community to be resilient and prepared. ABV facilitated this panel because we understand the importance of community voice in bringing lived experience to disaster resilience conversations alongside fire agencies, Gov bodies and corporate stakeholders.

"We can talk about bringing community to the table, but we have to fund their attendance and provide space for that to be possible." - Liz Mackinlay.

ABV was also invited to have a booth in NRMA's Resilience Lane as part of the AFAC Exhibition. Team members Natascha Wernick (Community Facilitator) and Moneesha Reynolds (Comms Officer) spent the two days conversing with the conference attendees on how skilled volunteering supports disaster recovery.

This year was the first time the conference had a space where not-for-profit organisations could showcase their work in community resilience. We were happy surrounded by like-minded organisations, making great connections and sharing stories.

Mike Taverner and Jenni Connolly, Australian Business Volunteer Skilled Business Professionals (SBPs), conducted a training program on Lihir Island to improve business governance for local business owners and company directors. The training has just wrapped up after two sessions in July and August.

The purpose of the Better Business Governance training program is to provide participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage board meetings, enhance business governance practices, and clarify roles and responsibilities within a company. This program covered best practices for conducting productive board meetings, understanding the separation of roles between board directors and management staff, and other vital aspects of effective corporate governance.

Overall, this initiative aims to empower Lihirian business owners and directors with the tools and insights they need to make informed decisions and foster better governance within their organisations. This program is supported by our partner Newcrest Mining.

Last week, a much-anticipated conference marked a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to integrate cultural burning practices into land management across Southeast NSW. The Cultural Burning Conference, facilitated by Batemans Bay LALC and ABV, brought together Local Aboriginal Land Councils (including Batemans Bay, Bega, Bodella, Illawarra, Ngumbaay – Brungle-Tumut, Merrimans, Wagonga), fire services, and government agencies. Through genuine collaboration and an eagerness to learn, the conference showcased how cultural burning methods can naturally complement existing land management practices. This article delves into the profound impact of the event and the transformative conversations that unfolded, fostering hope for a more sustainable and respectful approach to caring for country.

During the Cultural Burning Conference, listening and understanding were profoundly emphasised. ABV's CEO, Liz Mackinlay, said, "The event centred around listening. There was a lot of listening, in a way that participants expressed to me has never happened before." This shift in approach proved essential in paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable conversation about land management practices.

Ros Carriage, Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council's CEO, spoke to the urgency of breaking down barriers, "Most of the agencies we work with are on board with cultural burning, however cutting through the red tape within their organisations is a barrier," Ros emphasised how caring for country can effectively become established in widely used land management practices, laying the foundation for fruitful relationships. 

"The approach that we have been able to take collectively was one where First Nations voices were heard and respected, and people approached the event with a real sense of learning and collaboration," Liz reflected. This respect for First Nations knowledge and practices was a promising step towards reconciling land management practices in Australia.

The conference catalysed efforts to obtain public liability insurance for Local Aboriginal Land Councils to conduct controlled burns more extensively. By establishing a viable business model around land, fire, and risk management, these councils aim to uphold caring for country while also developing a sustainable economic model. This holistic approach ensures that land management's spiritual, social, environmental, and financial aspects are considered at the same time.

First Nations voices took centre stage during the conference, generously sharing parts of their knowledge about burning practices and their deep connection to the land. Participants engaged in crucial conversations that broke longstanding barriers impeding land management in Australia. As the Walbunja Rangers poignantly stated, this country needs healing, and the knowledge lies within their communities. The responsibility, however, cannot be solely placed on the Land Aboriginal Land Councils. The event highlighted the urgency for fire services and government agencies to collaborate with First Nations fire practitioners, offering support and adopting a mindset of "what can we do for you" instead of "what can you give us." This shift is crucial to avoid the exploitation of First Nations practices and knowledge.

As a tangible outcome of the event, efforts are underway to establish a dedicated working group that will foster ongoing discussions and prioritise the integration of cultural burning in land management systems. The aim is to ensure that cultural burning remains a forefront consideration in driving positive changes for sustainable land management practices.

The Cultural Burning Conference was supported by ABV's corporate program partner, NAB who provided the expertise of two corporate volunteers Louise Longley, NAB Director, Resilience Risk and Adam Fletcher, Associate Director for Indigenous Business and Community NSW and ACT. Louise solved the conundrum of finding an insurance company that would be comfortable enough to provide the Local Aboriginal Land Councils' (LALC) insurance by sourcing a local insurance broker. Tying into this work, Adam Fletcher moderated a session at the conference called "Creating a Business from Cultural Burning." This panel covered insurance, policy and the practicalities of making Cultural Burning an accessible service. 

The event was also supported by ARUP, whose dedicated team helped the event run smoothly. This partnership underscores the importance of cross-sector collaboration to drive positive change in land management practices.

This project is funded by the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) which is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.

Oscar Mussons, a professional lawyer and a passionate advocate for human rights, has always sought to build a career around creating positive change. With a diverse background in international consultancy, non-profit organisations, and public service, Oscar has embraced his role in transforming communities here at ABV as a Program Director. This profile will share Oscar's inspiring journey and highlight the valuable experience he brings to ABV.

Oscar's journey with passion for volunteering started early. At 21, he volunteered in Serbia at a summer nature camp to enrich local school children's connection with nature. Presently, he is a Board member at the Centre for Volunteering, a peak body for promoting and supporting volunteering and community participation. Through his passion for sport, he is involved in various football advisory groups and contributes to initiatives supporting the advancement of First Nations involvement in football. In 2019 he also received the Volunteer Manager of the Year Award in NSW. Throughout his career, volunteering and giving back have always been a focal point for Oscar.

Oscar's career has spanned continents and diverse working environments. In his last role, Oscar was the Volunteer Program Manager at the Asylum Seekers Centre, where he supported people seeking refuge in Sydney that came from over 90 countries. Oscar's compassion, coupled with his legal background, makes him a driving force for change.

Oscar is passionate about staying active and enjoys running, hiking, and spending time in nature. After work, you can find him exploring restaurants in Sydney and trying new cuisines. However, his main hobby is travelling the world, as he finds great joy in discovering new countries and immersing himself in diverse cultural experiences. Oscar takes pride in having already visited more than 125 countries and aspires to make it to all 195.

In Oscar's words, he joined ABV because "I love the fact that we reach very isolated and remote communities through tailored support. I just came back from a trip where we work with a corporate partner to walk alongside First Nations people, which was an incredibly rewarding experience."

We are thrilled to have Oscar on our team, and we are sure he will continuously push the boundaries of what can be achieved by our programs. His commitment to human rights, tireless efforts in promoting volunteerism, and genuine desire to bridge divides make him a valuable part of the ABV family. As he continues to champion ABV's cause, Oscar inspires all those who strive to make the world a fairer and more inclusive place.

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ABV is a team of several hundred Skilled Business Professionals (SBPs) enabled by a small salaried team. Together we source opportunities throughout Asia Pacific and in Australia to work in partnership with corporates and deliver impactful corporate social responsibility programs. We guarantee sustainable outcomes for communities, through strengthening small businesses and not for profits, leading to poverty alleviation. With 40 years’ experience across Australia, Asia and Pacific, ABV is focussed on programs that produce outcomes, positive stories of change for the small businesses and not-for-profits that our Skilled Business Professionals and staff support through transferring Australian business know-how and experience.
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