In 2018-19, we made direct impact on the lives of people through our services.
Read on to learn about participant and partner stories from 2019.


Zura in her kitchen

Stepping Stones to Small Business has given Zura new opportunities

Cornering the cupcake market can be a tough game despite the popularity of small sweet cakes.

Zura, who migrated from Malaysia, knew that if she wanted to build a successful business she needed help, but due to a traumatic workplace experience, she had become socially isolated and didn’t know where to start.

Then she joined our Stepping Stones to Small Business program and decided to combine her passion for making cupcakes with her interest in Asian-inspired cuisine.

Stepping Stones, as many participants call it, is a Victoria-wide micro-enterprise program offering mentoring, training and support to eligible women.

“I decided that my point of difference would be Asian-inspired and seasonal cupcakes,” says Zura. Varieties include pandan, teh tarik, miso caramel, lemon meringue, apple crumble, orange curd and many more. Her cupcake business, Happy Crumbs, was born in mid-2018.

Zura is a chef, but she found the traditional chef environment highly stressful.

After a bad experience, she decided to leave the field, “I wasn’t able to go back to work, but I wanted to use my skills.”

Stepping Stones to Small Business taught Zura about invoicing, budgeting and quoting. She wrote up a business plan and learnt to market her business. Without the program, Zura says she would still be isolated and not working.

In 2019, Stepping Stones broadened its reach across Victoria and is now also available to older women from regional areas.

Since 2011, Stepping Stones to Small Business has trained and supported 190 mentors from a wide range of sectors to support program participants towards running a small business.


Employment diversity – good for business

Repurpose It is a new cutting-edge resource recovery business in Melbourne’s north.

The company is breaking new ground by converting construction waste into reusable materials for infrastructure projects. It extends this progressive thinking with a purposeful employment strategy and is working closely with the Brotherhood’s Given the Chance program.

Repurpose It has made an active choice to promote diversity and hire workers from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, says company founder and managing director, George Hatzimanolis.

“The benefits go beyond making a bigger impact to your local community; it’s just good business. It puts you in a good position with social procurement obligations.”

So far, 11 workers have been placed with the company, some in casual or part-time roles and others in full-time positions.

“I heard about Given the Chance from the City of Whittlesea when we were starting up. For me, it’s about the legacy we leave behind. It’s about creating a long-term sustainable business.”

“My parents were immigrants and their parents were also refugees from Asia Minor to Greece. I hear the stories  from my father and how they started from nothing. It’s important for me to do my bit now to help others,” says George.

After the success of the initiative in Victoria, Given the Chance is now being extended to select sites nationally to meet the demands of even more employers and job seekers.

Given the Chance has worked with marginalised job seekers and employers since 2007. The program recognises that some job seekers require higher levels of support, and participants and employers are fully supported prior to and during employment to maximise positive outcomes. Job seekers gain invaluable workplace experience and usually go on to further employment after their initial placement.

Through its advocacy work at both federal and state government levels, Given the Chance has had a notable impact in key areas of employment policy.

Michelle of ANZ Bank

Our work with ANZ to increase financial inclusion

For over 17 years, ANZ has partnered with the Brotherhood of St Laurence to build high impact programs promoting financial wellbeing.

Saver Plus, MoneyMinded and Given the Chance have helped thousands of people to improve their financial position, gain skills and get work.

Michelle Commandeur, Head of Financial Inclusion at ANZ, says the partnership started in 2003 when the bank began shifting its community investment focus to financial inclusion and wellbeing programs.

“The Brotherhood of St Laurence was one of the first organisations prepared to talk with the bank about money issues in the community and how hardship and  disadvantage leads to financial exclusion.”

Over the past decade, the partnership has deepened and has included the recent addition of the ANZ Tony Nicholson Research Fellowship, launched in May 2019.

Volunteering opportunities for the ANZ workforce, payroll giving and sponsorship of the annual Sambell Oration have been other long-standing elements. Senior ANZ staff also consult with Brotherhood leaders over areas of  mutual interest in the social policy space.

The bank has provided job opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum under the Given the Chance program and has supported the Brotherhood with program expansion.

“The depth of the partnership we have with the Brotherhood is unique. This includes codesigning Saver Plus – from the early pilot to the hugely impactful program it is today. ANZ and the Brotherhood share intellectual property and all decisions are jointly made,” says Michelle. “We share a commitment to financial wellbeing and economic participation for all Australians.”

Saver Plus participants received over $1.6 million in matched funds from ANZ in 2018-19.




Using NDIS to build a strong future

Twice a week, Christian Hansen makes a three-hour round trip from his home in Melton to Arts Project, an organisation in Melbourne’s inner north that supports artists with intellectual disability.

Christian’s main focus is painting, but he loves many other art forms too. Going to Arts Project allows him to connect with other artists, receive specialist support and develop his visual arts career.

A year ago, going out regularly would have been very difficult for Christian. With the support he now gets  through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), he is gaining more confidence and connecting with people who can provide employment opportunities. “I feel a lot better now,” he says.

Working with our Melton Local Area Coordination team, Christian developed his NDIS plan to improve his financial aid and other supports. This has been key in helping him travel to Arts Project each week. “I wouldn’t be able to go without the funding,” he says.

“I want to be seen, not judged.”

Christian is also studying digital illustration at RMIT University and hopes to illustrate a children’s book.

Having a place to practise art gives him access to quality art supplies, teachers, job prospects and the chance to exhibit and sell his work. “The other people at Arts Project are like me,” he says. “If I didn’t go there, I wouldn’t be sociable. I would just be a homebody.”

The Brotherhood of St Laurence works in 21 Local Government Areas across greater Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula, delivering NDIS Local Area Coordination and Early Childhood Early Intervention services. We support people with disability, their families and carers to navigate the NDIS and access community and mainstream services.


Bridging the gap through care at home

Selminaz and Nurettin have been accessing Brotherhood Home Care Package services, through our Sunshine Aged Care centre, for the past five years. They get support that includes shopping trips, showering assistance, house
cleaning and getting to medical appointments.

The service has improved their lives in many ways by also supplying equipment such as a walking frame and recliner chairs. Before getting care at home, they say they were really struggling to live in their home.

With little education and coming from a difficult family situation, life hasn’t been easy for 75-year-old Selminaz. Talking about the past brings up painful memories. Her parents died when she was an infant, and she was raised by her uncle until, in 1957, she was married to Nurettin. Since then, the couple have never been separated.

In 1991, they moved to Australia from Turkey. Because of their limited English, their bilingual case manager, Sam, has been a godsend. He also makes sure to connect them with support workers who have Turkish language skills.

Having home support allows Selminaz the opportunity to do things she enjoys. “I’m a very good cook.” Nurettin, who doesn’t look anywhere near his 90 years of age, is very happy with this arrangement. “She cooks, I eat!” Kofte and
lamb pilaf are her specialty. She extends a warm invitation for guests to come to dinner.

At the local Turkish seniors’ club, the couple are happy to promote the Brotherhood’s aged care services to their community. Says Selminaz, “I trust them, they provide the best service. Always available; a solid service. I never tell a lie.”

Brotherhood Aged Care is a leading provider of Home Care Packages, with over 20 years of experience. We provide around-the-clock support to assist elderly people to stay at home – in familiar surroundings, and in touch with the people and places they value.

Through our advocacy work, we aim to lead change to improve policy and service models for older people on low incomes.


Kiara is looking ahead to further her education

In late 2018, Year 11 student, Kiara was living in a youth refuge and at risk of leaving school early. She had an uncertain future, but was determined to get back on her feet.

Fast-forward six months and Kiara is living at the Kangan Education First Youth Foyer in Broadmeadows. She is about to celebrate her 18th birthday and is smiling with pride as she plans her future.

Kiara is on track to finish Year 12, is working part-time and involved in many social and leadership activities at the Foyer. She hopes to study for a Diploma in Community Services after finishing school.

Kiara also appreciates the support she gets from Foyer staff when her day has been overwhelming. “If you want to talk to someone, it’s always okay to have a chat with one of the workers; they are so friendly.”

The Foyer provides a sense of belonging too. “I like that every Sunday we have a cook-up – students and workers make a meal together and anyone can come down and eat. It makes new students who have moved in feel welcome.”

“That is what is really good about this place. Everyone feels secure.”

The Brotherhood partners with Launch Housing and Berry Street to deliver the Education First Youth (EFY) Foyer model in Victoria. Three EFY Foyers operate on TAFE campuses, in Broadmeadows, Glen Waverley and Shepparton, combining mainstream education and training opportunities with affordable accommodation, employment and other support services.

Education First Youth Foyers provide integrated learning and student accommodation in mainstream educational settings for young people aged 16 to 24 years, who are at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. Foyer students have access to round-the-clock support for up to two years while they pursue their education goals and clarify their sense of purpose.

A longitudinal study published this year found that the education first system makes a significant difference to the lives of young people, with 85 per cent of them in work or education in the year after leaving the Foyer.

Goal 3



Community of Practice creating meaningful program development

Carmen Auer is passionate about supporting young people to find meaningful jobs that suit their skills and aspirations. After working with young people for over 16 years, Carmen also understands that deep collaboration with other partner organisations is vital.

The Transition to Work (TtW) national Community of Practice enables the collaboration of local communities to test, improve and demonstrate a mutually beneficial model of TtW that moves young unemployed people into sustainable employment pathways.

Carmen is General Manager of GenZ Employment in Queensland, one of the 12 TtW Community of Practice providers. “We help young people to set and achieve their employment and education goals by focusing on the strengths and abilities they already have.”

“Our core work involves building a young person’s skills, confidence and readiness for work.”

“Working in partnership with other organisations takes what we do to the next level.” The TtW providers’ national Community of Practice has met regularly over the past four years to refine and improve the service. “We always feel reinvigorated after meeting with everyone,” says Carmen. “We share all our data and learnings, warts and all. The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a very good facilitator, bringing people together, so everyone learns from each other. They have been with us every step of the way.”

The TtW national Community of Practice works to promote a shift in the way the community values young people – from passive service recipients to valuable, contributing members of the community – through partnership with government, community organisations, philanthropy and education providers.

The Transition to Work national Community of Practice is a collaboration between 12 of the 43 program providers across Australia. In 13 regions, the Community of Practice providers and their partners are implementing a consistent approach to the delivery of the Transition to Work service.

Ahlam and Meredith

Community services hubs enabling local partnerships for collective action

Our work in the City of Whittlesea, at the Epping Community Services Hub, brings together resources and support needed by the community to make the changes they wish to achieve.

Through community hubs, meaningful local partnerships to improve local services can grow. We want local organisations, businesses and community services to understand the capabilities and needs of people experiencing disadvantage or social exclusion. Our aim is for government, civil society, the community and private sectors to jointly address disadvantage in priority locations, and consider social inclusion a normal way of doing things.

The City of Whittlesea is rapidly growing, with a population expected to almost double over the next 20 years. Many refugees and newly arrived migrants are establishing their families in Whittlesea, with high rates of unemployment and lower levels of qualifications resulting in communities that are excluded from participating in the economic and social mainstream.

We are working to increase the range of services available at the Epping hub. Available support services from a range of service providers currently range from disability,  employment, running a small business, retirement and ageing, family services, mental health, through to alcohol and other drugs, and family and domestic violence. We also provide specialist support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with refugee and multicultural backgrounds.

Navigating lots of different services can present a challenge for people with complex needs. By integrating services from multiple providers, community service hubs, such as Epping’s, can provide a central where people can be assisted more easily and effectively.

“Creating local partnerships means improved access to a wider range of services for local participants.” Lucia Boxelaar, Director, Community Programs

Ahlam, left, with Meredith from our Epping Community Services Hub, is a Stepping Stones to Small Business graduate, and has recently established her own business, Cookies by Dreams.

Riham and Zeinab

Our Diversity Unit – building inclusion and cultural responsiveness

In 2018-19, our Diversity Unit led 55 training workshops to raise cultural awareness with 1,186 attendees from a range of non-profits, local councils and internal teams.

Riham and Zeinab both work as Bilingual Disability Community Educators, assisting community engagement through the Diversity Unit.

Goal 4



Our youth employment campaign speaks to the nation

Our youth employment campaign spotlights the persistently high rate of unemployment among young people at a time when, as a nation, we are navigating a period of testing social and economic change. More than a decade after the global financial crisis, the national youth unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 11.7 per cent, more than double the overall rate.

The modern economy, with its emphasis on skills and knowledge, presents new opportunities for job seekers, but poses particular risks for our young people, who often have little or no work experience. Those without training opportunities or higher educational qualifications face a double jeopardy.

A key part of our campaign is the Youth Unemployment Monitor, which includes reports that draw on the expertise of our Research and Policy Centre to analyse data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other sources.

These reports have regularly found that youth unemployment rates across the country are far from uniform, well above the national average in some regions, with regional and outer suburban localities bearing the heaviest burden. The prosperity dividend for our young people from almost three decades of economic growth is deeply uneven.

In tandem with the campaign we are working with all levels of government on evidence-informed solutions, locally and nationally.

The campaign is not only about the numbers; we work with young people affected by unemployment, and underemployment, to share their stories on our website and through the media. They put paid to ‘smashed avocado’ stereotypes about young people to reveal the reality that many are doing it tough.

Media reporting of our March 2019 youth employment campaign reached an estimated cumulative audience of 9.4 million.

Quaylin, who has featured in the campaign, is among the young people who, despite their talents and willingness, encounter barriers to finding ongoing meaningful work.

John Thwaites

Energy equity essential in climate change policy

For John Thwaites, Chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, climate change and equity go hand in hand.

John has had a long association with the Brotherhood and, since 2008, has chaired the organisation’s Climate Change and Low-income Households program.

“Everything we do to mitigate the impact of climate change has to be done with the lens where we ask ourselves, ‘how will this impact low-income people?’,” he says. “We need to connect economic, social and  environmental elements. Not working in silos.”

“Older people, infants and people with disability, especially those who live in poor quality housing or who can’t afford air-conditioning, are particularly vulnerable to the increasing impacts of rising temperatures.”

John backs the Brotherhood’s critical role in setting up projects to promote energy efficiency and pushing for lasting change by being at the policy-making table on these issues. We are committed to advocating for other broader changes to cut emissions and support moves to a low-carbon economy.

“By being involved in a practical way coming up with solutions for low-income people, the Brotherhood has helped governments make better policy for example with fairer electricity pricing and access to energy efficiency retrofits,” he says.

The Brotherhood has an important role in being part of the push to act more ambitiously on climate change, for the sake of everyone.

Our Energy Equity and Climate Change team in the Research and Policy Centre knows that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect communities where poverty and disadvantage are concentrated.

Tam Johnston

A partnership aiming to affect energy reform

Schneider Electric is a global energy management company that creates products and services to support sustainable energy use.

The company has a long history of philanthropic activity and community engagement, and in 2018 began its partnership with the Brotherhood.

Tam Johnston, Schneider Electric Pacific Foundation and Community Lead, says there is strong alignment between the company and the work of our Energy, Equity and Climate Change team.

“We believe that access to energy is a human right, and we support the Brotherhood because we believe in the program of work. We have a shared commitment to the idea that people should be able to access the energy they need to thrive. They should be able to do that in a way that is in the best interests of our planet.”

Two key areas of activity are piloting an initiative to assist low-income households, particularly renters, to reduce energy poverty by installing rooftop solar panels; and helping the Brotherhood cut its energy bills and carbon footprint. We aim to use our efforts to lower emissions to position ourselves as an exemplar of best practice in the non-profit sector.

Damian Sullivan, Senior Manager, Energy, Equity and Climate Change says, “Schneider Electric’s commitment to working with us to reduce energy poverty in Australia has given us the resources to develop the pilot study assisting low-income renters to access rooftop solar. We’re looking forward to delivering on this project and expanding our
engagement with Schneider Electric in other ways.”

Findings from the pilot study will be used to develop scalable solutions that will help us advocate for further energy reforms, such as the Victorian Default Offer, and relieve the effects of energy poverty.

The installation of rooftop solar in rental properties should save renters stressed by high bills about $900 a year.



We have invested in business capabilities and capacity to improve our service to the most disadvantaged in our community.


A streamlined structure to increase interconnectivity
and more effectively harness
the skills and experience
of staff to:


The development of a whole-of-organisation monitoring, evaluation and learning approach to enhance the impact of our programs, partnerships, research and advocacy to:


Added focus on expanding our workforce diversity to better reflect the diversity of the
people we serve through the creation of:


Significant investment in technology upgrades, including services and systems to support staff in achieving strategic
goals by:

Read on to learn about our 2018-19 financial results.