Woodside Commits $20M to Early Childhood Development
Thursday, 13th February 2014 at 10:58 am
Australia’s largest oil and gas company, Woodside, has announced it will contribute up to $20 million over 10 years to support programs and Not for Profit organisations that focus on early childhood development.
Launching the company’s new social investment initiative, The Woodside Development Fund, CEO Peter Coleman said it aimed to help children in Australia and overseas and represented the continuing evolution of the company’s social investment program.
The company said it is committed to working closely with the Not for Profit sector and early childhood development specialists to ensure the Fund’s activities are realistic and targeted, and that its outcomes are measurable.
It said the $2 million per annum, 10-year initiative will focus on projects that contribute globally to the education, health and and well being of children 0-8 years of age.
“The Fund will target some of the core building blocks of childhood – such as personal safety, medical care, nutrition, literacy, numeracy and engaged learning – through programs that are carried out at an individual, family or community level,” Peter Coleman said.
“The initiative follows six months consultation with experts in the field and responds to studies showing that focusing on the learning, physical, social, emotional and cultural dimensions of childhood directly impact a person’s ability to achieve their potential throughout their life.”
Coleman said the advice from those consulted was to tackle challenges at their root cause via a collaborative approach.
“Woodside is making this multi-million dollar investment over a decade because we firmly believe that a strong society is the best foundation for the future,” he said.
“By improving outcomes in childhood, projects supported by the Fund will aim to alleviate health, wellbeing, learning and social challenges that can occur later in life.”
Woodside says it will work collaboratively with industry, governments, community organisations and practitioners, as it is critical that the views and resources of many are shared in a collective approach to tackling complex social challenges.
The aim is to provide long-term funding and serve as the catalyst for different organisations and sectors to come together, working towards clear goals, Coleman said.
“Woodside’s role in the new fund is to be an energiser, advocate, collaborator and funder.”
Woodside said it will continue to engage with potential collaborators and key stakeholders during 2014 and beyond to ensure it develops the most effective model for community support, and that the target areas are relevant and realistic.
Immediately after announcing the new fund, Woodside convened a 30-person workshop to define its focus areas.
It said the progress of the Fund will be guided and shaped by a range of leaders from many sectors:
• an expert advisory panel, to be established later this year, will provide advice and help to shape the goals, monitoring and evaluation of Fund programs. The panel will be comprised of respected experts in the areas of childhood and social development;
• a range of Not for Profit organisations and practitioners with strong track records in working with children, families and communities support will be involved in Fund programs. These partners will be responsible for implementation of projects, ensuring progress towards goals is achieved;
• tertiary and leading research institutions and consultancies will be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of programs supported by the Fund. Measurement information and progress will be shared and used to inform decision-making processes.
Woodside said the Fund will complement other philanthropic and partnership activities funded through its broader social investment program, which supports health and safety, education, youth, environment, arts and culture, community development, Indigenous and volunteering activities.
Woodside is a member of the London Benchmarking Group (LBG), which provides an internationally recognised framework for measuring social investment. The company has set a target of voluntary social contributions representing 0.5 per cent of profit before tax by 2015. In 2013, its contribution was A$10.1 million, which equated to 0.35 per cent of a three-year averaged profit before tax (2011-2013).
Woodside’s Social Investment Guidelines can be found at here.
Further details about the initiative and a fact sheet about the new Fund can be found here.