Just after finishing up a volunteer shift at the Country Women’s Association (CWA) in Moruya, Managing Director David Joss took a moment to chat about Southern Phone’s commitment to working with the local community.
Q: What inspired you to start Southern Phone’s volunteering program?
David: The volunteering program came out of a requirement--if you like--to really get the staff involved in the community. Southern Phone’s always been a community-orientated company, one of the reasons we were set up is to improve the economic outcome in regional Australia. But that’s really different from staff displaying everyday our commitment to our community, especially our local community, our own backyard. The ability of the staff on work time to come out and volunteer with the CWA we think is a really tangible way of involving Southern Phone in the local community.
Q: Has the program met or exceeded your expectations?
The program has by far exceeded my expectations in many ways. The way we set up the program, it wasn’t something that was dictated out of management. Volunteers across the organisation at different levels came together to really work out what community volunteering and Community Champs program would be; it was really born from the team itself. So that certainly exceeded my expectations and in the take up of volunteering positions, it has well and truly exceeded what I’d hoped. We already knew that about a third of our staff volunteered in the community in some way. But this is an opportunity to introduce volunteerism and community-based volunteerism to our staff. They’ve certainly gone beyond whatever hoped.
Q: Where do you see the group going in the future?
Where this group can go is kind of endless, in my view. We’ll spend time with the CWA and really get into who we are as a team, and then I’m really open to looking at other opportunities and other organisations out there where we think we can make a difference.
Q: What is Community Champs?
Community Champs is the program that we set up to address the volunteering program, so Community Champs are the people within Southern Phone who have put their hand up to participate in the local community.
Q: Why should staff get involved in the Community Champs program?
I like to think that everyone wants to give back on some level. And if you have an employer who’s saying to you, here’s an opportunity as part of your role to give back to your local community, the place where you live and you thrive, why wouldn’t you take that opportunity up?
Q: Why is volunteering important?
I think volunteering is important for everyone. Giving back is a really fundamental part of who we should be as citizens, and I think having the ability to do that in a way that is visible and makes a tangible difference to your local community is a bit unique, and something that everyone should be doing.
Q: What inspired Southern Phone’s partnership with the CWA?
The CWA have a really good match to who Southern Phone are. Now we looked at a lot of community-based organisations when we were looking at who we wanted to partner with, and the CWA is one of those organisations that’s been around obviously for a long time, but don’t really get the recognition that they deserve for what they do, not just in the Eurobodalla, but what they do across the country. And we felt that they’re an organisation who needed our support locally but also one who makes a really fundamental difference to the community in an “unsung” sort of way. We felt that that really married to who we were and it’ll be a great stepping stone for us to go into the Community Champs program.
Q: What did you enjoy most about volunteering at the CWA?
It’s a great day out. I mean, at the end of the day, you’re working with ladies who volunteer their time all the time. The work with them today serving tea and coffee to customers around Moruya, I just think it’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve really enjoyed it, and look forward to doing it again.