As a traditional manufacturer, our ventures towards a digital realm has been one of the many catalysts that prompted a new way of thinking. We learnt development of a business purpose comes from more than a financial motive. It taught us how a social cause can stimulate a drive to be an active member of the community.
And this newfound realisation allowed us to understand the importance in B2B community collaboration as a way to help better society through genuine efforts in inclusion. We can credit this realisation to the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) as they are one of the leading organisations here in our Local Government Area (LGA) to connect businesses. Regardless of industry, they will network companies with similar values in hopes to enrich communities through collaboration.
Very recently we saw the power of community collaboration as our very own David Fox networked with OutLoud to talk about school-based programs and engagement models. What was supposed to be a mere conversation ended up turning into an instance of collaboration between different industries coming together with the aim of community advancement.
As we walked into the office of Finn Branagáin, who is the current director and CEO of OutLoud, or also formally known as Bankstown Youth Development Centre (BYDS), we saw walls decked out with photos of young and old, performing in high spirits as crowds cheered amongst them. Whilst munching on some Lebanese goods from the local bakery, we started to discuss the amazing work of OutLoud. A resounding sense of pride permeated around the room as we started to understand the amazing complexities of what it means to be a true member of the community.
As a manufacturing company, one might not expect us to interact with an organisation like OutLoud who are key role models in the Bankstown-Canterbury area. The teaching powers of OutLoud are not limited to only school children as we astonished ourselves through Finn’s encouragement in becoming social leaders of the community. Though we went in open-minded and optimistic about our start into a socially driven journey, it made us realise that we undermined the potential in our own abilities as we learnt a valuable lesson in becoming a socially-conscious business.
What we thought would be a simple conversation ended up with us reimagining our own efforts in school engagement as we started to understand how we could help our community to thrive in our own, industrial way.
We were able to connect with Finn and her amazing work through the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce, an organisation created to connect local businesses together to enrich the community by stimulating local investment. They hold networking events and allow businesses like LA Services to interact with fellow community members who would otherwise have no opportunity to do so.
Finn first guided us through the RESPECT project, arguably one of the most important and established programs of the organisation. Supported by the Australian department of Social Services and Bankstown communities for Children through the Smith Family, it connects young boys under the age of 12 to singer/songwriters to create their own songs that discuss Family and Domestic Violence. It is a 12 week early harm reduction initiative and focuses on anger management and gender stereotypes – prevalent issues that perpetuate a cycle of violence. By allowing boys to personally partake in the creation, it allows them to become “active agents of change.” The sheer scale of the program is immeasurable and has worked with many schools across the board from Chullora Public School to Bankstown Public School. It was exciting to hear about an overlap in our visions where we both aim to create a meaningful impact on future generations and reaffirmed that the manufacturing industry is not purely limited to its product and service but rather what it can do for the greater good.
A study conducted by Murdoch University has proven the consequential change in students as 98% of them have shown an increased understanding in healthy relationships and domestic violence. Hearing the quantitative results was a real reminder of the impact in school programs to help shape the perceptions and minds of the future, and our potential to help bolster these improvements as an active member of the community. It reaffirmed our own journey in becoming more socially conscious and to do so in a genuine and responsible manner.
Finn continued her enthusiastic explanation with her vision for current and future initiatives, adding onto the already extensive list of work she and her team have achieved. She announced the exciting creation of the female counterpart to the RESPECT project, where she hopes to tackle body image and perceptions in unhealthy relationships. We also learnt about her work in providing resources and counselling to young queer LGBTQ+ youth in the community, highlighting one of the many issues that we were once ignorant about.
Despite achieving so much with just RESPECT, her vision to do even more in the community was inspirational. It was extremely humbling as we learnt to check our privilege in society and served as a reminder that being an active member of the community meant that complacency and willful ignorance must be proactively fought against.
This was an introspective experience as we started to understand the magnitude of being a social innovative leader. She reassured our vision and potential in becoming a revolutionary figure both in the industry and the community as she complimented our drive to widen our own perceptions and worldview for the better – a value that is stereotypically unexpected of manufacturers.
We concluded the meeting with a newfound respect for Finn’s work as the immensity of OutLoud hit us and she graciously offered to help with our own vision by guiding us through the proper structure needed to engage with students to create a widespread and meaningful impact.
Who would have thought a chance meeting between a youth organisation and a manufacturing company could stimulate so much ideas and inspiration into bettering society.