STRONGER TOGETHER: Human Rights - for all people always

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Last updated:
10/12/2020

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA WRITES ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND HOW WE CAN "RECOVER BETTER".

STRONGER TOGETHER: Human Rights - for all people alwaysHuman Rights affect everyone.

They should inform the decisions we make and the actions we take every day.

While most people might not know exactly which 23 human rights are protected by the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019, the essence of each guideline has been engrained in what we’ve been taught is “acceptable behavior” for human beings.

Human Rights are there to protect all people, yet not everybody is aware of their rights to a life of equality, free from abuse, discrimination and unfair judgement.

Over the past month the Queensland Human Rights Commission has been publishing information on their Facebook page about the 23 human rights that are protected by the Act.

These rights include the right to life, feeling safe, being equal, protection from torture or degrading treatment, freedom of thought, expression, culture, privacy, property and liberty, to name a few.

Need support? Check out our range of programs here.

Today, Thursday 10 December, is Human Rights Day; the culmination of what has been Human Rights Month.

The theme this year is to “Recover Better” – a reminder that recovery efforts following the COVID-19 pandemic must assist all people from all walks of life.

At IMPACT we take these guidelines seriously; they provide the foundation for everything we do, from our mission statement to our core values, our overall vision and the way we conduct day-to-day business.

We operate under three main pillars of community service: live, grow and prosper.

Our “live” programs aim to assist people who need support at a base level, our “grow” services are designed to train and upskill people with an aim to become job ready, and our “prosper” pillar focuses on connecting participants to sustainable employment outcomes.

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We also run two commercial businesses that employ a diverse range of people who might otherwise be overlooked for other jobs.

This includes people with a disability, older citizens and those who might be re-entering the workforce.

Throughout each phase of our organisation, people and their human rights are our core focus.

Do you act in a way each day that encourages people to live by these principles?

Do you support people’s human rights to freedom of speech, culture, belief, movement and expression?

Or do you think you could work on the level of acceptance you have for other people’s freedoms?

If you feel as though your human rights are being violated, or know of someone being discriminated against, speak to the Queensland Human Rights Commission on 1300 130 670.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Human Rights - for all people always

If you are making use of IMPACT Community Services, chances are the first people you see or talk to are receptionists Natalie, Anita or Tracee. These very capable women put people in need in touch with the people they need.

Natalie Toms divides her time between HR and admin, and answering queries at the front desk.

She started in hospitality, has done lots of admin work, has worked in sales and customer service, and even managed a Telstra store.

Natalie has been at IMPACT for three months. “I love it,” she said.

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“What makes IMPACT special, is they genuinely encourage your optimum work/life balance. It has a family feel to it. At the other places I worked you were just a number, but here, you’re part of a family.

“You know it’s a good place to work when you are greeted everywhere you go by smiling people. It just doesn’t happen in other companies. It means people love what they do.

“Because of the kind of work done here, it means you have to be a people person and everyone is. It’s a very supportive environment.”

When Natalie learned IMPACT had a female managing director, she felt a certain amount of pride, but says equality is all about the right person getting the job, male or female, so it doesn’t matter.

“Tanya O’Shea is the best person for that job, and that’s why she got it.

“What did matter was that she started in my job, which means that there’s a great career pathway for me. If you have the ability, you can go right to the top, regardless of gender or background.

“There will always be great opportunities here.”

Tracee Houlahan has also only been at IMPACT for three months, and like Natalie, also loves her job.

She shares the reception duties with Natalie and also manages the company resources – cars, rentals vending machines, maintenance and also the purchasing of supplies.

Tracee has worked at lots of small companies. She worked at Superior Pak for 4½ years and 3M for 15 but loves the family atmosphere here. “There was a good atmosphere at 3M and I felt that same family feel here as soon as I started.”

Tracee likes working for an organisation that isn’t just about sales. “We’re not just selling products to improve people’s lives, we’re improving people’s lives from their very foundations.”

Tracee loves the working conditions here, and that IMPACT genuinely cares about their employees. “You can really feel that. And the flexibility of the working hours is great.”

Though she calls her work in resources “behind the scenes” she knows that if “behind the scenes” isn’t working smoothly, then the frontline workers aren’t either.

“It’s important to keep things running smoothly. You’re a small cog in a big machine, but you’re still contributing.”

Anita Duke started around the same time as Tracee and Natalie which makes them all a tight team.

Anita spreads her time and expertise across reception duties, accounts and logistics. And loves the work she does at IMPACT. “It’s so interesting. No two days are the same. It’s impossible to get bored.”

Anita came to Bundy from Noosa via Cairns to be close to her parents. And she’s glad they made the move and she found herself at IMPACT working for the local community.

“You’re not just dealing with, say, retail,” says Anita, “you’re dealing in people’s lives. It makes a difference when you get up in the morning.

“It’s a very friendly place to work.”

Natalie, Anita and Tracee may well be the first amazing women you meet at IMPACT, but they won’t be the last.

This profile is part of our Women of IMPACT series. Each day during Queensland Women’s Week we share the story of one of our amazing female team members whose work helps make such a big difference in the lives of so many in the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

As manager of IMPACT Support Services, Sandra Higgins is used to juggling multiple priorities to meet the needs of her teams and their clients.

Sandra manages the Positive Start Parenting Program, Family Mental Health Support Service, Community Visitors Scheme, the local partner office for the Cashless Debit Card and the Community Navigators team.

She also manages the Foundation for Life midwife program which helps women when they’re at their most vulnerable and in need of assistance; sometimes she even accompanies pregnant mums-to-be into the delivery room when they have no one else.

This is the personal and human touch that characterises Sandra’s approach to supporting others.

It’s a privilege to be part of the lives of all the people in all our programs,” Sandra said.

“The trust they give you when sharing in their lives is very powerful and humbling.”

Program participants needn’t look any further than Sandra for inspiration.

Sandra had to grow up quickly in her teen years.

She was brought up by a single mum with six children, living in a housing commission home.

Her eldest brother left school to support the family and Sandra followed him, leaving in Year 9.

Sandra’s own employment history is as rich and varied as her current workload.

She has worked with Housing NSW as well as in strata management, community development, youth work, retail and she’s even operated her own successful businesses.

Sandra educated herself while raising her own family and climbed every step to where she is today through hard work and determination.

She never accepted someone else telling her she couldn’t do something.

Now Sandra leads 14 people, who are all highly skilled in their area of work.

The goal across all her programs is to facilitate and foster solutions that promote resilience and community connections and help participants achieve their personal goals.

Sandra has a never-give-in attitude.

She was determined to be self-reliant and that is perhaps what IMPACT saw when they looked beyond her resume.

“IMPACT look beyond your qualifications to see if you’re a good emotional and cultural fit,” Sandra said.

She said IMPACT was an amazing place to work, and even though it had an above-average number of women on staff and on the board, she didn’t see any special favouritism of one gender over another.

“Women are treated well here because all staff are treated well,” Sandra said.

Sandra believes that the advantage of being a manager is meeting people she never would normally have the opportunity to meet, and to be involved in things that bring about real change.

One of Sandra’s current passions is trying to effect change in family law, getting down to real brass tacks and improving the lives of her charges at the foundations.

This profile is part of our Women of IMPACT series. Each day during Queensland Women’s Week we share the story of one of our amazing female team members whose work helps make such a big difference in the lives of so many in the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

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