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Making a difference: The lives we changed in 2023

18 minute read

2023 has been a year of incredible growth here at Asuria! We have connected with participants, employers and partners across Australia. This growth has been made possible through the dedication of over 700 Asurians who have provided unwavering support to the diverse communities with whom we work with.

Looking at a year full of achievements, we want to reflect on the year of 2023, and share with you some of our favourite moments.

 

At the start of the year, we sat down with Lucy, Asuria’s Customer Administration Specialist, to hear about her journey of working with Asuria’s Disability Employment Services team. Starting as a Disability Employment Services participant in 2018, Lucy worked with Asuria Mentor, Jonathan, to find a job that would cater to her disabilities, which include hearing impairment and a heart condition. Lucy was put forward for an opportunity within Asuria’s Customer Service team, and has been a valuable member of the team since.

“My job has been amazing. I love my job because it’s so special. I like making new friends and hanging out with work colleagues. I love everything about Asuria,” shared Lucy.

One of our favourite stories to come from our Ballarat team was Ballarat Meat Co, who worked with our Workforce Australia team to employ a number of job seekers in their business, including Rachael, who found work as a Bookkeeper after twenty years of unemployment. 

We also placed four job seekers into a variety of roles with Nunn’s Dairy, such as Process Workers and Delivery Drivers. This included Patrick, a First Nations participant who found a Delivery Driver role with Nunn’s Dairy after seventeen years without work due to caring for his family.

“I'm doing much better than before. I came to Asuria, and things started happening nearly immediately, in the first week or so,” shared Patrick.

Through the Self-Employment Assistance Program, we were introduced to Sigrid, an aspiring writer who took part in Asuria’s Small Business Training. Through learning the skills she would need to run a business, Sigrid turned her experience with anxiety, and passion for poetry, into an Amazon Bestseller.

Seeing a person’s journey start-to-finish is a truly unique experience, and that’s what we saw with Sophie, who started as a ParentsNext participant and then went on to actually become one of Asuria’s Support Mentors! After being moved by the assistance Sophie received from Georgina, her Support Mentor, Sophie knew that she wanted to help people in the exact same way, and joined the Asuria Mount Barker team earlier this year.

On Mother’s Day we shared the inspiring story of Crystal, who worked with ParentsNext Support Mentor Kara to overcome her struggles with substance abuse and start her dream career in traffic management. Through Asuria, Crystal upskilled and began work with GoTraffic, where she enjoys a new sense of financial independence and is now on a path towards rebuilding her relationship with her children.

“I’m very grateful that GoTraffic has been truly understanding. They said my sons’ lives are equally important as my work life,” shared Crystal.

Through our Workforce Australia - Self-Employment Assistance program, we helped existing and future business owners bring their ideas to life, like Mari with her ingenius InflaMed App which helps track lifestyle, medications, and diet factors to detect allergies. Through Asuria’s support, Mari has gone on to win awards and speak at important events, sharing her business and passion in the Google Start-Up and Microsoft Founders programs.

"The training and coaching gave me a general knowledge of what I needed to be responsible for. It was good to have a coach and Business Mentor to talk things through, and to have the opportunity for promotional support from Asuria."

Kim Jaewoo and Camille, the dynamic couple behind Kossalii Designs, also came to Asuria’s Self-Employment Assistance program for support in expanding their knowledge in marketing and networking, key elements in running a business. The worked with Business Mentor, Leigh, to set the foundation for Kossalii Design’s success, which can now be seen through their improved marketing strategy and multiple award nominations in the fashion industry.

On Father’s Day, we celebrated Scott, a single father who worked with the ParentsNext team in Warilla to overcome legal battles and mental health struggles. Through Asuria, Scott found work as a labourer with The Hardware Man and has stepped into a brighter future for himself and his daughter.

In our Workforce Australia - Transition to Work Program, we heard from Jamel, a participant who connected with Youth Mentor Monique in our Merrylands office. As a young man who hadn't completed Year 12, Jamel shared his fitness and martial arts passion, through which he completed the GLOVES program, and a Certificate III in Business. Jamel now offers his own fitness services to private clients and sees his journey as an opportunity to better support his clients and help them reach their goals.

“I am grateful for my Mentors who have been able to just believe in me and upskill my hobbies which I did not realise could be turned into a career. They listened to me and gave me opportunities to create a career goal,” shared Jamel.

One of the biggest highlights of 2023 was when Asuria partnered with Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group, Tribal Warrior, and NRMA Marine to bring the Maritime Operations Program into full swing for a second year in a row. This collaborative effort is catered towards First Nations job seekers, who undergo three weeks of hands-on training with Tribal Warrior as they work toward formal maritime qualifications that can be used to support future employment. Through this program, we heard the story of Thomas Wright, a participant of the program who overcame extraordinary disadvantages to achieve employment. A proud Dunghutti man, Thomas came to Asuria with no previous work experience and a criminal record. He had also previously faced a drug and alcohol addiction, an emotionally taxing custody battle, and the impact of the deaths of several loved ones. Despite this, he worked hard towards a brighter future, and never gave up. His journey to employment with NRMA Marine as a general-purpose hand saw him named winner of the Supply Chain and eCommerce Student of the Year award at the TAFE NSW Gili Awards, and finalist for Achiever of the Year at the NESA Awards. Congratulations Thomas!  
 
This year, Asuria placed a big importance on connecting with employers across some of our key regions. Through events such as our Employer Breakfasts, which took place across Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania, we formed meaningful connections with local and national employers, where we created partnerships as we work towards doing recruitment differently.

In our Workforce Australia - Transition to Work Program, we found an innovative way to connect with participants through the launch of our Youth Jobs Fest, an event which introduced young people to work and study support in a fun and engaging way. Asuria also invited Shayne Hood, a social worker, motivational speaker, and beacon of hope for social justice, to share his personal experiences of overcoming adversity and staying motivated during challenging times. His message resonated with the crowd, igniting a sense of limitless potential within each individual. In addition to Shayne’s uplifting talk, an open mic session featuring representatives from Asuria’s employer partners added further depth to the events.

These professionals from various industries and backgrounds shared valuable insights on recognising one’s worth, bouncing back from setbacks, acing nerve-wracking interviews, and understanding the transferable skills between jobs.

Another big achievement was the development of Bizability, a self-employment workshop designed for people with disability. Run over three weeks, with two sessions per week, participants explored the possibility of becoming their own boss, and were provided with all the tools and support to turn their business dreams into a reality, with the help of Asuria’s Self-Employment Assistance program.

Throughout the year, we also worked with Babana through their Aboriginal Employment and Wellbeing Days on Cockatoo Island, which brought together employers, partners and First Nations job seekers to discuss current opportunities in a variety of key employment industries, as well as providing a space to discuss important issues First Nations job seekers are facing.
 
In February, as part of Asuria’s WorldPride celebrations, we held a Pride Trivia event, hosted by King Maggot Banks, also known as Kaitlyn, Asuria’s Disability Employment Services Mentor. Kaitlyn shared their heart-warming queer journey, introduction to the world of King Drag and how they use Drag to advocate for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
 

In March Asuria took part in International Women’s Day, which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. To promote this year’s theme, ‘Embrace Equity’, we invited Asuria staff to share a selfie holding a poster that read #EmbraceEquity, which we uploaded to our social media pages.

On March 21st, we had Harmony Day, a time to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity and show a commitment to inclusivity, respect, and belonging for all. Across our Asuria offices, teams came together to share a love of food, with everyone offering a snack, meal or drink from their own cultures.

In May, we reached out to entrepreneurs in the fitness industry to organise Asuria’s first-ever Fitness Business Bootcamp in Sydney, where more than 20 aspiring entrepreneurs received free information and advice on how to set themselves up for growth and success as part of Asuria’s Self-Employment Assistance program.

From May 27th – June 3rd, Asuria recognised National Reconciliation Week. This year’s theme was ‘Be a Voice for Generations’, a theme that encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in our everyday lives. During the week, we hosted a panel discussion with Asuria staff members and members from our Joint Venture partner, Bamara. This panel gave teams an opportunity to hear from leading voices within First Nations communities, and work together toward achieving reconciliation.

In the first week of July, from Sunday 2-9 July, Asuria celebrated National NAIDOC Week, which recognises and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Throughout the whole week, Asuria staff nation-wide took part in a variety of activities and events to honour this year's theme, ‘For Our Elders’, and support the important connection we have with First Nations communities.

In July Asuria also had the honour of attending and sponsoring the Employee Excellence in Service Award at the 2023 NSW Accommodation Australia Awards for Excellence. This ceremony honoured the achievement of excellence in a wide range of categories in the accommodation industry, including community contribution, accommodation, restaurants and bars, and the people working in these areas.

September 14th saw Asuria take part in R U OK? Day, a national day of action when we remind ourselves to ask the question 'are you okay?' On the day, our Allied Health Team hosted a lunchtime webinar to share tips on how to start conversations in the workplace to check in with team members, and create an open platform for our staff to ask their questions about supporting the mental health of those around them.

In October, our Workforce Australia Hobart team had the pleasure of hosting Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Tasmanian Senator Tammy Tyrrell, Jacqui Lambie Network, and Emily Caswell, State Manager at DEWR. The Minister and the Senator spoke with our dedicated frontline staff, and twelve Asuria participants attended an onsite Retail Food course with one of our local employer partners, Subway.

The month also saw Asuria hold our first ever New Starter Orientation Day at our office in Marrickville, which provided an open and inviting environment to welcome our new team members to Asuria. Nicole Grainger-Marsh, Asuria Australia Chief Executive Officer, and John Mathios, Executive Director of People and Culture, were in attendance as leaders of Asuria, sharing their wisdom and passion.

To finish October, several Asuria team members, alongside Executive Chairman Con Kittos, rolled up their sleeves to volunteer in the kitchens as part of the Saint Elesa Food Initiative, a united effort between the Greek Orthodox Parishes of Kogarah and Marrickville. The team assisted in preparing and packaging hot, nutritious meals, which will aid people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity in the local community, and Asuria donated $15,000 to the Philoptonos Society of Kogarah to support the initiative’s efforts.
 
During November, Asuria acquired GCSNet, a leading provider of employment services to the Government of South Korea. This established Asuria’s presence in South Korea, and marked a significant milestone for Asuria as we expand our global footprint and bring innovative employment solutions to South Korea.

Asuria's Disability Employment Services and Allied Health teams attended the Rural Mental Health Conference from November 8-10. The theme for this year's Rural Mental Health Conference was 'Justice and equity: Issues and solutions for Rural and Remote Mental Health', and at the event our teams explored issues currently impacting rural communities, and shared their ideas towards creating solutions.

Our Chief Executive Office Nicole Grainger-Marsh also attended a Business Leaders Summit held by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As a Silver Sponsor of this event, Nicole was invited to speak on behalf of Asuria, sharing her insight into driving inclusive employment in Australia's workforce on a panel with like-minded industry professionals.

In the leadup to U Day, Asuria commissioned an incredible painting from First Nations artists Luke and Siena, who go by the artist name Bayadherra. Coming from the Yorta Yorta tribe, they created the painting, titled ‘Nitel Yapaneyepuk,’ which means ‘to gather together,’ depicting connection, community and engagement between Asuria, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The painting includes a large yarning circle in the centre, which represents people and is reflective of community, relationships, inclusion and innovation. The painting also features Asuria’s signature teal colours, with a glowing flame in the centre to symbolise Asuria’s Enterprising Heart.
 
On December 1st, Asuria held U Day, our annual celebration for all Asurians to come together and celebrate Asuria's Enterprising Heart. Our staff gathered across the nation with food and festivities, recognising the achievements of Asuria as a whole, and of select individuals and teams through our Enterprising Heart Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to all of our winners:

Rookie of the Year - Alexandra Iordanidis  
Individual of the Year - Nicole Norris  
Team of the Year - Marketing Team  
Chairman's Enterprising Heart Hall of Fame Award - Jackie Moriarty

And finally, December 3rd was International Day of People with Disability, which promotes community awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. To recognise the importance of this day, Asuria hosted a lunchtime webinar session during the week where Angie Antzoulatos, Executive Director of Customer Experience and Innovation led a discussion around disability and inclusion in the workplace with Suzanne Colbert AM, GAICD, co-founder of the Australian Network on Disability (AND). Amongst many other key takeaways, Suzanne encouraged us all to never make assumptions about other people; to always ask people about their preferences and to remember that disability is as unique to a person as a thumbprint.

2023 has been a massive year of growth, achievements and recognition for Asuria staff, participants, employers and partners. We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who played a part in our journey, and we look forward to achieving new goals with you in 2024!

Written By

Asuria