Why One in Ten Australian Children Live with Disadvantage and We Don’t Do Anything About It

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We hear empty promises all the time – from our cultural, political and business leaders. They pass over the airwaves, across the internet and through our minds. In many instances, we filter them out – discard them as spin doctoring or static in an already-too-noisy world. Often these claims are backed up by statistics or a number – $10 billion worth of investment, 65% of respondents – but by the time we reach the “proof point”, the objective has already been lost.

Bob Hawke 1980Remember former Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously promised by 1990, “no Australian child will be living in poverty”?

But 1990 came and went. And a new campaign from The Smith Family explains that we are perhaps, farther away from this noble goal than ever. In fact, one in ten Australian children – 638,000 kids – live with financial disadvantage.

What does financial disadvantage look like?

Take a few minutes to watch the video from The Smith Family. It does a great job of capturing the sense of disadvantage and the powerlessness that comes with it.

What you can do to change this

But the video also provides some suggestions for action … for achievable change that you can support:

Prove me wrong and change a life.


Bob Hawke 1980Creative Commons License State Library of South Australia via Compfight

Pitch the Future–Young Social Innovators in Action

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You know what it’s like when inspiration hits … an idea galvanises in your mind like a bolt of electricity, sending your pulse racing. And the more you think on it, the more you feel your nerve fibres tingling.

But what happens when you tell someone about your idea? Your mouth dries. The words tumble out one on top of the other … you get tongue tied, excited and afraid. What happens if someone steals your brilliance? What if your idea is no good?

Now imagine, that you are taking your idea and pitching it to a room of strangers. Imagine that this idea is a deep seated passion and could have a real social impact if successful. And then imagine pitching your idea against four other people just as passionate about their idea as you are about yours.

Pitch the Future event at the Vivid Ideas Festival last night. Check out the story as it unfolded below. And who won? You’ll have to follow along to find out!

Don’t Give Up

Beginners

Creativity is hard work. Actually, work, life, everything is hard work.

For every 100 good ideas that you put up, you’ll be lucky to see one take root.

For every “yes” that you get, there’ll be dozens of “nos”.

And for every spark you ignite in others, there’ll be whole audiences of blank faces.

Remember, too, it all takes time.

Effort.

Resistance to the resistance.

But your time will come.

If you hold tight.

Push through that last mile of indifference.

And self-defeat.

Learn.

Be humble.

And generous too.

But most of all.

Don’t give.

Up.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Inspired by Stan.

Startups – How Do You Like Them Apples?

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Starting a business is like flying by the seat of your pants. Even experienced entrepreneurs experience the simultaneous challenges of validating and launching a product, marketing, resourcing, managing staff, engaging stakeholders and securing funding. Often – in the whirlwind – a strategic approach to marketing is lost. Or worse – ignored. My view (as it would be), is that it is never too early to market.

But wouldn’t it be great if there was a way that you could accelerate your marketing? What if you could draw upon the experience and know-how of not just your best-friend-who-does-some-marketing, but one of the world’s most respected agencies?

You are thinking big dollars, right?

And yes, it could easily cost $100k.

A Little Help from Leo Burnett

During the Great Depression, Leo Burnett opened a small advertising agency. As a symbol of hope in a gloomy and challenging time, a bowl of fresh apples was placed at the front desk to welcome clients.

These days, Leo Burnett is one of the world’s largest communications companies – and they still welcome clients with fresh apples.

And now – with Help from Leo – they are aiming to give one new Australian business the chance to win $100k in strategic and creative advice.

How? They are taking the apples and turning them into a cider business.


If you think your business – your startup – or your idea could do with a boost, it’s time to hone your pitching skills. To be in the running, the minimum entry requirement is a short written statement of up to 250 words describing your business vision. Polish your words and enter at www.helpfromleo.com.

Prize is up to $100,000 (incl. GST) worth of strategic and creative advice for a single project, and excludes execution of ideas, including production or placement of any TV, press, radio, digital or other campaign, and also excludes 3rd party / external costs. Value of prize will depend on project winner requests. Conditions apply see helpfromleo.com. Ends 03/05/13. Entrant must be 18+ and own or own a majority of an Australian business with an ABN operating for 2 years or less as at 02/04/13. Limit 1 entry per business. Crafted by Leo Burnett with assistance from Eling Forest Winery.

Good luck!

It’s Not Charity: It’s Social Enterprise-investing in the future

It's not charity, it's social enterprise

When I give money to charity, I look closely at the aims of the organisation. I listen to the story and look for the downstream impact. And I look at the finances. I am keen to know how much of the money that is donated goes to programs and how much goes to administration.

Over the years my giving has changed. I noticed that I became more focused on this programs/administration split. I would stop supporting organisations as the admin component grew. In frustration, I eventually shifted my entire focus away from larger organisations to Kiva and to Vibewire – a youth arts and media not-for-profit. Through Kiva I have funded almost 100 loans now and continuously roll them over – I see them less as charity and more as social enterprise. In fact, that is what they are.

The same can be said for Vibewire which is entirely focused on providing a launchpad for young change makers.

But through my work with Vibewire, where I also serve as President, I have also learned about the need for administrative – or core – funding. Sure it is important to support programs and to impact individuals, but not-for-profits run on passion, enthusiasm and commitment. The money simply keeps the doors open. In general, NFPs stretch every last cent out of their available funds. On the surface, this is great. But in doing so, they find themselves with very little capacity to innovate.

As a result, the impact of change is more like a ripple than a tidal wave.

And yet, when we give to charity, we want and EXPECT to see that massive, transformational change. As Dan Palotta explains in the video below, charities are rewarded for how little they spend, rather than on the results that they achieve. Surely this should be the other way around.

So next time you are giving to charity, think about your actions and expectations. What happens when you think of your giving not as a GIFT but as an INVESTMENT in the future?

That’s the way I think of Vibewire (which is easier since it works specifically with young people). See what happens when you change the way you think about charity. What impact do you want to see and how can you make it happen – beyond the transaction of donating/giving? Take an additional step. Contribute skills. Expertise. Get involved. After all, it’s your future too.

Lend Jai Some Muscle for the Cole Classic

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The Cole Classic is Australia’s largest ocean swim, covering about 9km from Sydney’s Dee Why beach to the iconic sands of Manly. In this, it’s 30th year, the Cole Classic has attracted thousands of swimmers from around the world who each commit to raising funds for local charities. But this year’s competitors won’t just be made up of seasoned athletes and competitive swimmers.

This year, 15 year old Jai will be taking on the challenge of the Cole Classic, but he does so with an agenda. As a sufferer of Friedreich’s Ataxia, a so far incurable disease of the central nervous system, he is raising funds for ongoing medical research. He knows he can’t do it alone – so he’s asking for others to lend him some muscle. You can support Jai’s swim here.


The Perfect Gift this Holiday

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Way back in 2009, Mark Pollard and I set out to change the online conversation about men’s health, depression, suicide and alcohol dependency. As part of the Inspire Foundation’s Manweek campaign, we collected stories that would help reinvent manhood. We even had author of Manhood and Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph write an introduction.

This is one hell of a book. Born out of a triple j week focusing on men’s lives, and created by its listeners, it’s a remarkable piece of work.

A man’s life, whether he is 18 or 80, can start to go badly. And often, after that, it just gets worse. How to turn your life around is a serious concern. The men who write these gutsy, honest, emotionally vulnerable stories create an excitement and energy in the reader, because they have faced the dragon of their own pain, and won. They got help, they dived in, they didn’t give up, and they trusted the power of their hearts to bring them through.

Every kind of man, every single style of writing, with pictures, cartoons, short and punchy, you will find bits of yourself all over these pages. Read it and weep. It will change you.l

We know that around this time of year – when we celebrate Christmas and head into the holiday season – some men find themselves isolated and struggling. The book, The Perfect Gift for a Man, was written specifically for them. And it remains as powerful and as relevant today as it did in 2009.

Get a free download of the book today.

If you need help with issues like these, please contact Reachout. If you’re in Australia and want to talk to someone, try Lifeline 13 11 14 or Inspire.


Event Report: ConnectingUp.org’s Social Media Forum

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Connecting Up is a not for profit organisation that provides vital products, resources and programs designed to make the Australian not for profit and community sector stronger and more resilient. As part of this charter, Connecting Up recently held a social media forum in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, showcasing the work of local organisations and sharing approaches and best practices.

In each of the locations I delivered a keynote address designed to set the scene – “Signs on the Road Ahead”. Rather than covering the basics of digital strategy and planning, many not for profits have moved beyond the social media basics and are looking for more targeted information. The aim was to provide communicators with a heads up on some of the trends and disruptions taking place in the world of digital communications. From this starting point, the participants then heard case studies from innovators working with not for profit organisations based in each city – rounding out a fantastic day with Q+A and an inspirational wrap up from Connecting Up’s Ben Teoh.

Adelaide – the hotbed of social media innovation

I am always amazed at the vibrance and innovation that emanates from the social media scene in Adelaide. The evening before the forum I was able to spend some time with some of the speakers and some of the energetic people who drive much of the online creativity coming out of Adelaide. It was clear that social media is maturing as a business discipline and Adelaide businesses are fortunate to be able to call upon professionals like Michelle Prak and Mal Chia.

During the presentation from Ben Osborne (University of Adelaide), many around the room were hastily taking notes and jotting down tips for handling challenging and sometimes volatile communities. His communications and crisis management flow chart was a huge hit and showed just how much planning and thought had gone into not only handling issues, but generating engagement and activating students across the campus.

Petra Durvocinova from RiAus sent all the geeks in the audience into paroxysms of bliss talking about science, story telling and community building. Linking curiosity, emotion, imagination and research together, Petra explained how storytelling can help audiences discover the wonders of science. The use of Livestreaming was a great opportunity to test and learn for RiAus, but the identification and nurturing of those passionate science communicators within the community was seen as essential to the long term success of their social media efforts.

Noriko Wynn from Conservation Council SA shared an in-depth dive into the world of Facebook ads and campaigns. Working not only in social media but across a range of communications and media, Noriko explained that the challenge was that sometimes there was too much to say. Social can accordingly, plan an important role in creating relevant and target communications.

CU-Sydney

Sydney – the niche and the scale

I was still a little jetlagged for the Sydney event, but a jolt of strong coffee soon had me ready for a full audience.

Rafi Cooper from WSPA delved into the narrative structure of digital storytelling. Using public narrative to focus and drive change and action (self->us->now), Rafi showed how WSPA campaigns were able to achieve impact at scale via social media. He did hint that WSPA have an advantage thanks to plenty of good stories and cute images of animals.

Yves Calamette from ACON shared a great – but niche case study on the power of social media to engage men on the topic of HIV prevention. While there was a niche focus for the campaign, Yves was able to show specific impact, ROI and best practices that are now being extended for an upcoming campaign.

Dae Levine from Republic of Everyone showcased how social media can help connect policy, planning and persuasion, presenting a case study on the Say Yes campaign. Integrated planning and digital strategy, events, installations, social proof and widespread educative communications were all used to influence the public debate around climate change and carbon pricing. While not all not for profit organisations can work on such a scale, Dae explained how various elements slotted together to create an overall impact. (And yes, the campaign was successful – with a carbon tax now in effect in Australia)

Treassa Joseph hit to podium like a dynamo. Armed with data analytics and a geek’s passion for statistics, Treassa introduced the audience to Twitter, Tweetups and Twitter festivals and showed how social media can mobilise a community to come together and take action around a cause. Expect to see more non profit tweetups in the near future!

Melbourne – from grass root to the oak tree

Cate Lawrence talked through the Green Renters experience – cultivating a niche community with style and grace on a shoestring budget. Many in the room marvelled at Cate’s grasp of social media and the impact that a very small team (see the presentation) can have when focused on the most important channels.

Chris Roberts from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence provided a great case study on how social media can be integrated into advocacy programs. Their efforts focused on a dental care initiative – and required audience education, influencer management, leveraging of existing marketing and integration of all channels towards very specific objectives. Again, this campaign was considered a success with dental now covered as part of the government’s Medicare scheme.

Daniel Lewis-Toakley from the Oaktree Foundation stepped through the Live Below the Line campaign that challenged Australians to live on $2 a day and share their experience via social media. The approach again followed the public narrative storytelling arc to create champions, engage a community and track engagement towards success. Another great not for profit success, the campaign showed the power of enabling a community not just corralling it.

Richenda Vermuelen from ntegrity provided a deep dive into the social media activation of a blogger program for World Vision. From the detailed selection process, storytelling approaches and on-the-ground management, Richenda stepped through the pitfalls and benefits that come from working with bloggers. It was a great presentation for any not for profit wanting to tap into the social media space.

Men … How Dense Are You?

While osteoporosis more frequently affects women than men, men with hip fractures have a mortality rate two-to-three times higher than women.

And as 30-to-40 per cent of fractures due to osteoporosis occur in men, it’s clearly an issue that men should be (cough) seeing their doctors about. The only way men can find out if they are at risk of osteoporosis is to have a bone density scan – which, yes, sounds like a visit to the doctor.

Rather than searching Dr Google, Osteoporosis Australia have created a simple test to help you find out whether you are at risk. You can take the test at HowDenseAreYou.org.au

Just do it –> remember early detection of low bone density can prevent osteoporosis.

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Go Where Others Don’t – The Digital Newsroom of Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia

msftv There is a lot of talk about brands becoming publishers – as if it was a simple transformation achieved by the stroke of a budget making biro. But what does it really take?

In Australia, Medicins Sans Frontieres or “doctors without borders” aim to put this to the test.

Médecins Sans Frontières is the world’s leading independent organisation for medical humanitarian aid, providing relief after natural disasters, helping victims of conflict and running emergency feeding programs. Working in war zones much of their work happens far from the eyes of the world.

And while MSF are known as a “below the radar” organisation – this poses real challenges for sharing stories, building awareness and engaging with potential sponsors, donors and the interested public.

For the month of October, MSF TV aims to address this challenge head on, creating a digital newsroom to bring stories directly to the public. There are:

  • Seven channels of video content aimed to stimulate conversation
  • Conversations amplified through the #msftv hashtag on Twitter
  • Live updates and headlines from around the world
  • Interviews from those on-the-ground
  • Hosted debates on Facebook and on MSF TV
  • YouTube channel with an archive of episodes and issues from the MSF TV site

The rise of digital opens new opportunities for brands to go peer-to-peer

Marketers generally think in terms of business-to-business or business-to-consumer communications. But the rise of digital has changed the landscape. It’s not one-to-many but one-FOR-many communications. The old B2B and B2C distinctions are crumbling under the weight of social media – with communicators now working in a peer-to-peer conversation.

Very few organisations have followed this path thus far. It’s complicated, challenging and exciting. MSF and their partner agency, Republic of Everyone, are trailblazing. They truly are going where others don’t. But we can only expect more to follow.