The boom might be slowing, but don’t think that means times are tight – WA’s community sector is bursting with innovative ideas. From haircuts for the homeless to $50 million tenders, the next big thing is just waiting to explode.

Support System

Burly blokes asking for money usually conjure up a very different mental image from a vision of purple-bra-clad gents collecting coins for a good cause. But that’s exactly what you would have seen if you were out on June 19. Breast Cancer Care WA’s annual Purple Bra Day fundraiser raises money to provide emotional, practical and financial support to West Australians affected by breast cancer and, at last count, more than 4500 bras were distributed statewide to cash collectors, who have raised a total of $245,000 to enable Breast Cancer Care to continue delivering its services for free.

Professionalism & Purpose

That’s how not-for-profits can improve, according to 74 sector CEOs, who were surveyed recently by PricewaterhouseCoopers and not-for-profit impact consultancy Good Foundations. Focusing more on purpose, being more like businesses and merging with other not-for-profits to avoid duplicating services, and improved back-end efficiency were the three main issues raised by CEOs. Interestingly, other employees surveyed cited ‘better management’ as the single most important thing not-for-profits could do to become well-run.

Kristy Ninyette is using her Miss NAIDOC win as a springboard to mentor others (photography Carlo Fernandes).


Leading the way

This award-winning young leader has big plans.

Kristy Ninyette doesn’t hesitate for a moment when we ask whether she’s worried her infant daughter – a child of two young, Aboriginal parents, being raised in Armadale – will have a hard time growing up. “No, not at all,” Kristy says. “If anything, it’ll make her stronger – she’ll get a really strong upbringing in the environment of Aboriginal culture, which is something I’m really proud of.” Kristy, 23, adds that being Aboriginal is part of her daughter’s identity, and part of hers as well – and that she’s proud to be a Balladong woman, raised hunting, marroning and camping with her father and brothers. Kristy has lived in Armadale since she was a child, and says she had a strong support network in her community. With that community presence comes the responsibility for Kristy herself to be a positive role model – a challenge she has gladly taken on, because of her own experience with a mentor at high school, who looked out for her academic career and wellbeing. “She’s a huge part of me graduating, a huge part of my success, and I’ve always been in contact with her.” Now, Kristy is a spokesperson and mentor for other young people, as the winner of this year’s Miss NAIDOC, a leadership program for young Indigenous women. Kristy says the experience of competing – which involved six weeks of skills workshops before the final event – was special because she got to spend time with positive, driven young women, whose ambition reflects her own. And though she’s a role model for a neighbourhood of young people, one in particular is at the front of her mind as she sets her goals. “I want my daughter to be proud of me.”


Wade to go

Eight disability enterprises have banded together as a formidable force for quality employment options.

Kai’s face splits into a grin as he explains how he builds the bright yellow collection bins that house donations to Good Sammy’s – just one of the hundreds of items he makes by hand for their 25 op shops. He points out stacks of huge metal sheets and materials; walks importantly over to the workspace where he solders pieces together; and gently traces the spot on the bin where the iconic black seal image will be painted. He’s impatient to share how he builds the shelves in the op shops, too – it’s easy to believe Lil Paskos when she says Good Sammy’s has to ask its 250 supported employees to take leave, because no one wants to take a day off.

Lil is the procurement manager for an association of eight businesses who provided supported employment for people with disabilities, people like Kai, whose intellectual disability is no barrier to his work. It sounds like the ideal employment model, but it’s chronically under-utilised – and not all employers can see that.

“People’s view of the group we represent is really hard to change,” says John Knowles, the chairperson of WADE – the association of eight Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) located in WA. “They’re the most under-represented group of people in Australian demographics for employment. Rates of employment of people with disabilities haven’t changed in 30 years. But people with disabilities have been shown to reward their employers with greater loyalty, lower levels of sick leave, and equal productivity.”

He explains that employers see it as a risk to hire a person with a disability, and that staff members responsible for placing supported employees in workplaces celebrate every little victory. “Our failures outweigh our successes by three to one,” he says frankly. But if the WADE coalition has anything to say about it, meaningful, skilled employment for supported workers in a range of industries won’t be an unrealistic ambition. Lil says WADE currently has $22 million worth of contracts, and aims to win $50 million, with 500 additional valued jobs being created for people with disabilities. “There’s a sense of self-worth and belonging to the community, but they’re also high-quality commercial businesses that couldn’t function without these employees,” she says of the tandem social and economic value the WADE businesses provide.

“They’re an important part of the production process, and they take really great pride in the work they do. It’s a win-win.”

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