Education Could be Bolstered by NFP-Business Collaboration
6 February 2018 at 5:16 pm
There is “huge potential” for business and social sector collaboration to tackle pressing issues in Australian education, according to a key leader of PwC’s new social impact venture.
Jacqui Jones joined PwC’s Impact Assembly at the start of 2018, after previously serving as CEO of the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN).
The Impact Assembly was launched in October last year, with the aim of bringing not for profits and businesses together to tackle social problems, such as homelessness, Indigenous incarceration and suicide prevention.
Jones, who spent a decade at ABCN engaging businesses to provide opportunities for young people experiencing a disadvantaged education, told Pro Bono News that she was deeply passionate about education.
“My core passion is always education and high quality education for all young Australians. And by education I don’t mean K-12, I mean lifelong learning,” Jones said.
“For me, when you talk about quality education in Australia, you tap into so many other issues that are critical. And we know when young people get great education the opportunities that are available to them completely change and so education is literally life-changing.”
Jones said there were many exciting opportunities for cross-sector collaboration in education, which she would look to facilitate at Impact Assembly.
“I think there’s huge potential. Education has been a key part of PwC’s social impact strategy for some time now,” she said.
“With education, there’s huge opportunity right now because we’ve had so much talk particularly around needs-based funding and the kind of education system we want to build in Australia.
“And as that conversation matures and progresses, I feel we’re in a really good moment to start to hopefully work on some of those issues around education.”
She said the key would be to work out how a “really great” education system for all young Australians could be created.
“I certainly see out there… many organisations doing really wonderful work and so the exciting opportunity is then essentially to bring them together and to create a collaboration and a space where collaboration can occur,” Jones said.
The former ABCN CEO said there was a tremendous appetite for collaboration across the for-purpose and the for-profit sector, which Impact Assembly would look to facilitate.
“At Impact Assembly we talk about collaboration between business, government and community. And we can bring all those elements together on complex social problems in order to solve them,” she said.
“The way we do that is very process-driven. Working in the for-purpose sector the last 10 years, I really hear a lot of talk about how we need to work better together [with other sectors]. And the great challenge is working out how we do it.
“At The Impact Assembly we’re process facilitators who want to enable these groups to work together to address those problems.”
PwC social impact partner, Rosalie Wilkie, said as Australia faced growing social challenges, it was “more important than ever for business to play a role in the solutions”.
“Many of these challenges are so deeply entrenched that no single organisation or sector can create meaningful change on its own. While organisations increasingly recognise the need to collaborate to solve these issues, it’s hard to do in practice,” Wilkie said.
“The Impact Assembly builds on a concept we’ve been prototyping for the past five years. It brings together organisations from the business, government, community and not-for-profit sectors, people who’ve actually lived and experienced the issues we’re trying to tackle, as well as experts from within our firm to help unpack complex social issues and drive systemic change.
“This involves convening cross-sector discovery sessions, trying to make sense of what’s possible and helping groups work together for greater impact. Some of the issues we’re currently tackling include suicide prevention, homelessness, youth underemployment and achieving social and economic equality for Indigenous Australians.”
Jones said that she would focus on capitalising on the opportunities the sector provided to make a collaborative difference.
“I think what’s really important for me as I come into this role, is looking at the opportunities in the sector and looking at the big social problems that [collaboration between] groups working in that space can make great gains in,” she said.
“It’s also great to be joining a firm like PwC which has a record of being vocal on a whole range of policies including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, violence against women and Indigenous issues, and actively works to solve big social problems.”