9 November 2022

How Canberra businesses are helping keep youth safe and connected

| Dione David
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Monarch Building Solutions Facilities Management general manager Tony Rogers, CRS director family and youth programs Kim Bool, CRS CEO Mel Haley and Monarch Building Solutions Facilities Management director Joseph Pratezina. Photo: CRS.

Children’s respite accommodation Ruby’s House has saved thousands of dollars – and counting – thanks to in-kind support from a local Canberra business.

Earlier this year Monarch Building Solutions Facilities Management (MBSFM) partnered with the Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) to offer maintenance to support their family and youth program, which included the fit-for-purpose therapeutic residence for children experiencing family conflict.

The six-bedroom house opened earlier this year as an expansion of CRS and Marymead’s Safe and Connected Youth Program.

CRS CEO Mel Haley said though the project was ACT Government funded, it had received critical financial and in-kind backing from local businesses and organisations, including MBSFM.

“There was a need for corporate support from like-minded businesses in the community,” she said.

“As a business with a large number of staff who have young families, MBSFM were quite keen on the program. They understood how family breakdown could impact the workplace and the wider community.

“Supporting CRS, and their programs that work to reduce family breakdown, aligned well with their organisational values.”

The charity partnership became official in April this year, with an initial three-year agreement.

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During the set-up of Ruby’s House, MBSFM supplied and installed whitegoods and learning and therapy aids such as whiteboards throughout the facility and helped meet regulatory requirements such as providing door locks.

MBSFM’s ongoing assistance includes labour and materials to maintain and improve both the structure and the grounds.

Ms Haley said in a time of soaring labour and materials costs in the construction industry, the in-kind support was extremely valuable to the operation.

“Their ongoing provision of labour and materials for the building and gardens at no charge means the money we would have to use to fund those types of works can be diverted into our therapeutic programs,” she said.

“It means we can stretch our budget across a longer trajectory and assist more families and young people.”

Kitchen at Ruby's House in Canberra

MBSFM supplied and installed whitegoods in Ruby’s House. Photo: CRS.

Ms Haley said the arrangement was an excellent example of the power of corporate responsibility.

“Strategic alliances like this are critical because it signals that we understand the world we live in,” she said.

“Our corporate partners like Rotary Club of Canberra, IKEA, Canberra Toyota and of course MBSFM are integral to our success.

“It’s about communities supporting communities and a pooling of resources to help people.”

MBSFM general manager Tony Rogers said the company’s philanthropic pursuits tended to lean towards charities focusing on children and families, including Karinya House, The Ricky Stuart Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Canberra.

CRS and Ruby’s House folded into the mix seamlessly.

“We have a workforce with a lot of young families. The realisation of the number of youths who, when the chips are down within their family environments, don’t have anywhere to go … that was eye-opening,” Mr Rogers said.

“What they’re doing at Ruby’s House really struck a chord.”

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Mr Rogers said being a family-run business, these kinds of philanthropic alliances “sat well” with the staff and enhanced their employee value proposition.

MBSFM is currently exploring other forms of in-kind support it can offer, including tapping into its industry knowledge to offer an occupant assistance program when undertaking works at the facility.

“If any of the youths had an interest or capability, at the discretion of CRS, they can be involved in repairs to the house,” Mr Rogers said.

“It gives them experience, teaches them life skills and in some cases the idea of actions and consequences.

“We’re also looking at some of the other charity partners CRS has and how we can assist, not only in the ACT but also in the Riverina and Shoalhaven regions.

“It warms our hearts to be in a position to help.”

Learn more about the Safe and Connected Youth Program here.

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Not only are connected kids happy kids, these programs also reduce mental illness, suicide and youth homelessness. A big call out to those individuals, businesses and government agencies who combine their efforts and funding to support those people suffering hardships in their many different ways. Their kindness and support is beyond measure.

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