Our social impact strategy was first developed in 2016–17 by the Social Impact Committee, a group of committed CHOICE staff. The strategy is an important link between our organisational values and the broader community.
Staff consultation identified two key priorities:
1. Linking people experiencing domestic violence and homelessness with sustainable accommodation
2. Improving the quality of our local environment.
One of our first steps was to develop a partnership with the Women's and Girls' Emergency Centre (WAGEC), a nonprofit homelessness service for women and families escaping domestic violence. The main element of this partnership has been donations of some of the products we test, which have been used to furnish the centre's accommodation services and client homes.
More than 200 products, with a total value of more than $100,000, have been donated so far. These donations have a direct impact on the lives of women and children who have experienced domestic violence and homelessness.
Staff complemented this with over $2000 in personal donations collected at events during the year. These funds have supported educational programs for children and young people, employment skills training, and therapeutic and wellness activities.
Workplace Giving Program
The CHOICE Workplace Giving program helps employees donate money to our selected charities, both of which support those in need at a grassroots level. Employees currently donate to two causes:
- Womens & Girls Emergency Centre (WAGEC)
WAGEC helps women and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The people they assist often have little or no family or community support. They come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and may have been impacted by issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is a development organisation working in more than 25 countries. It helps train and empower local eye doctors, nurses and health workers to create a sustainable system of care in the communities that need it most. The organisation's purpose is to make sure everyone, whether they're rich or poor, has access to high quality, affordable eye health.
Workplace Volunteering Program
The Social Impact Committee's work to improve the local environment started towards the end of 2017, with the introduction of a workplace volunteering program.
Marrickville Council approved a patch of land along the Cooks River for CHOICE to regenerate in partnership with the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA). Staff contributed their time once a month to work caring for and restoring this area. The committee also organised a 'Clean Up Marrickville' event. CHOICE has allocated two days per employee per year to volunteer.
Measuring our impact
Recognising that even small contributions can be meaningfully magnified when introduced as workplace initiatives, all staff have the opportunity to contribute however they choose through these giving and volunteering programs. At the end of the 2017 financial year, a staff survey found that 97% of respondents believed CHOICE was making a difference through its social impact activities.