Sustainability gains momentum with youth voices

Communities@Work 8 September 2020
Members of Communities@Work's Youth Advisory Board standing by lake.

Communities@Work’s Youth Advisory Board has developed a sustainability action plan for the organisation. Photo: Supplied.

Organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of an environmentally sustainable work environment. An eco-friendly and healthy workplace can produce happier and motivated workers, and a cleaner, greener environment.

Communities@Work’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is passionate about improving sustainability by targeting waste management, energy efficiency, paper reduction and food waste. Its resulting Sustainability Action Plan and Paperless Policy for Communities@Work also has an education and training component to encourage staff to adopt best practice.

YAB is a group of voluntary, young Communities@Work employees who provide insight to company executives about youth issues, both within the organisation and through the broader Canberra community.

“Being a member of the YAB means having the opportunity to redirect some attention and resources to things that matter to the younger employees of Communities@Work,” says YAB member Mitchell Deigan. “I’m pleased to have been a part of the sustainability project.”

Communities@Work’s chief financial and operations officer Andrew Chenery acts as YAB’s facilitator, providing members with guidance and mentoring, and being a conduit to the ‘senior’ executive team.

“YAB members have been researching issues affecting young people within our organisation and the wider community,” he says.

“They report their research to our executive team, who use this information to inform policy and professional development opportunities. The sustainability project was an important milestone in this initiative.”

Members of Communities@Work's Youth Advisory Board writing its Sustainability Action Plan.

Members of Communities@Work’s Youth Advisory Board writing its Sustainability Action Plan. Photo: Supplied.

YAB member Aditi Verma: “The sustainability goals identified within this Sustainability Action Plan align with the organisational Strategic Plan. Embedding these values ensures our services are prepared to lead the community as we build our capacity for a sustainable future.”

Communities@Work’s community development manager Karen Jesson agrees.

“Making Communities@Work more environmentally sustainable has always been on the agenda,” she says. “Originally, we developed a Sustainability Action Plan back in 2011, which involved members from across different organisational areas.

“While the project could not be completed at that time, we continued to be sustainable across the organisation without it being formalised. However, now the timing is right to take a bigger step.

“I am glad we now have an amazing group of young employees who have reactivated the project and created a powerful sustainability action plan that we will strive to implement in the organisation.”

The next step for YAB is to roll out the implementation of the Sustainability Action Plan, with support from key members of the organisation who will be ‘sustainability champions’.

“It’s the little things that matter before we can take the bigger steps,” says Aditi. “We hope to address both short-term and long-term goals with our Sustainability Action Plan and Paperless Policy.”

Three children leaning on recycling bins.

Recycling and waste management is already actively practiced through many parts of Communities@Work’s operations. Photo: Supplied.

YAB is viewed as essential in Communities@Work’s role in developing future leaders.

“Our Youth Advisory Board is an important part of our innovation strategy, supporting our formal training program and helping to develop our next generation of leaders,” says Andrew.

Find out more about Communities@Work’s Youth Advisory Board here.


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