AMP Foundation supports WorkVentures’ indigenous technology program in which young Aboriginal people in remote communities gain skills in computer repairs.
“Ralph Gatt of WorkVentures Sydney ITeC Repair Centre is so intuitive in his methods,” Helen Liondos, Manager of the AMP Foundation says. “Many people would just give students a manual, but Ralph got them to video themselves solving problems and putting a computer together again step by step. He made a presentation to our Board and everyone was really impressed. WorkVentures links with other non-profits who understand the communities, and there’s ongoing support through a helpline and access to traineeships. Technology is so vital – without it you’re behind the 8-ball these days.”
Indigenous education and employment are priority areas for AMP Foundation. “There are so many smart, inspirational Indigenous people, but you seldom see them in the media,” Helen says. “Contrary to the stereotype, most Indigenous people live in urban areas. We are absolutely optimistic about achieving our long-term goals in this area which centre on helping young people stay in education and find work. Some people seem to think these issues can’t be solved. They absolutely can.”
AMP Foundation also supports a WorkVentures pilot program to mentor Year 7 Indigenous students at Airds in Sydney’s south west.
AMP Foundation was founded in 1997 with a substantial capital donation from AMP and has an income from funds invested with AMP Capital, providing a sustainable funding basis.
The Foundation plays an important role within AMP and is highly valued by employees and financial planners. “We match payroll donations, we match fundraising, and have an active corporate volunteering program,” Helen explains. “We also match mentors with young people with the help of the Smith Family.”
The AMP Foundation believes that philanthropy is a journey. “It can be a bumpy road. You have to be honest about what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to form partnerships with others who have expertise and share your goals,” says Helen.
The Foundation’s partnership with WorkVentures began many years ago when AMP Foundation provided start-up capital for Social Ventures Australia (SVA), together with the Benevolent Society, WorkVentures and The Smith Family. Significantly, these three major non-profits were prepared to share their expertise and that of their CEOs to get Social Ventures Australia off the ground. It was unusual to collaborate as they did – a bit of a shake-up to the sector. SVA has now reached maturity, attracting talented people and finding new ways of helping to scale up innovative non profit organisations.”
Helen says that social enterprise has an ethos of working on skills and strengths, what people can do rather than what they can’t. “You need to measure things, to have an outcome in mind, and be prepared to keep learning and adapting. Sometimes that means tweaking your programs when you learn what worked and what didn’t. It’s all about long-term change. There are always challenges, but you focus on delivering a positive outcome for the community.”