Stories of impact
Deloitte’s $3 million bushfire response
The Australian bushfires of 2019-20 marked the beginning of an immensely difficult year for our nation and the wider world. In early January, Deloitte’s leadership resolved that in addition to monetary support, the firm would contribute our unique skills and knowledge in whatever ways were needed. A bushfire steering committee was established, consisting of Ellen Derrick, Rob Hillard, Rob Collie, Pete Williams, Matt O’Donnell, Ian Trevorah and Ursula Brennan.
We worked with the NSW Rural Fire Service to support them with procurement, onboarding additional volunteers and handling incoming donations. We reached out to recovery task forces, agencies and government in Victoria, NSW and other affected states to offer our assistance. Understanding what relief local communities needed was vital – from access to power, water, food and shelter to accommodation, clothing, transport and fuel. Assistance with paperwork, grant applications and other administrative tasks was also necessary to relieve pressure. Deloitte’s Bushfire Support Finder was developed to help affected individuals and businesses to identify grants and other assistance opportunities relevant to each case. We prioritised our efforts based on community advice. By May, our total bushfire response amounted to more than $3 million of in-kind, commercial and volunteering support, including more than $600k in pro bono services. Our contributions are ongoing.
Leveraging global and local Deloitte disaster recovery expertise
A Deloitte global team of disaster recovery experts, including two former US FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) emergency response specialists, visited Australia to share their perspectives and expertise on the bushfire recovery. Working with a Deloitte Australia team, they gave important insights and support to help set up the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. Deloitte was proud that our vast global reach and depth of expertise enabled us to identify two emergency management experts and bring them to Australia at short notice. Additional Deloitte expertise was leveraged locally through Deloitte’s Chief Edge Officer, Centre for the Edge, Pete Williams. When bushfires ravaged the east coast in the summer of 2019-20, Pete was in familiar circumstances. He had been in the thick of the deadly 2009 Black Saturday fires as his own family members’ lives were threatened, their houses lost. His experience with bushfire-affected communities, the ways their needs and issues evolve and the importance of consultation were invaluable. Having direct contact with communities to find out what they needed was key.
Supporting bushfire-affected communities on the frontline
Our presence on the ground enabled us to provide effective local support. We brought to bear our capabilities and networking to help organise essential community-based efforts and grassroots initiatives.
The main issue with the recovery effort was matching people who needed help with volunteers. A Facebook group called Tradies for Fire Affected Communities, the brainchild of tradesperson Piers Smart, started up in early January with workers rushing to offer support for fire-affected communities. Some 14,000 skilled tradespeople offered their help. A website was built to manage processes and data. Two Deloitte secondees helped connect 500 people with the help they needed.
Fencing for Fires (FFF) is another grassroots initiative that provided experienced fencing installers and materials to farmers to replace fences. Deloitte teamed up with FFF and Tradies for Fire Affected Communities to kick off Australia’s Biggest Working Bee. Working with community leaders on the ground we identified what immediate needs people had and coordinated volunteer tradespeople or fencing installers to solve problems.
We also helped set up Mission Rainwater, a grassroots initiative that installs water tanks to provide essential access to safe water for families who have seen their properties suffer significant damage from the bushfires. Sustaining water supplies were installed at more than 65 households.
Deloitte also dispatched a secondee to the Business Council Association (BCA) to assist with the immediate delivery and strategic planning of their flagship BizRebuild program. With the clear intent of maximising the impact of limited resources, the program made a significant impact on local businesses and the community by distributing tools vouchers to help tradespeople replace equipment lost in the fires, running professional skills workshop and contributing to the reconstruction of community amenities in fire-affected regions.
Informing and influencing economic debate during the pandemic
Deloitte’s leading economic minds have collectively made a major, positive contribution to Australia’s economic and social policy debate during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Deloitte Access Economics team continues to be at the forefront of a major Deloitte commitment to interpret, analyse and advise clients and policy makers on the evolving impact of the pandemic. Dr Pradeep Philip, Lead Partner, Deloitte Access Economics, said Deloitte Access Economics was the largest private-sector economics practice across Australia and New Zealand, as well as the biggest in Deloitte globally, and with that comes big responsibilities.
“We’re always focused on providing clients with deep economic rigour and insights, but we’re also incredibly mindful of the ways in which we can influence, and contribute to, debates around so many important issues and shape public policy, in good times and bad,” Pradeep said.
Deloitte Access Economics Partner Nicki Hutley sees Deloitte Access Economics' role as being the interpreters "who can hopefully provide some balance and sense to the population in general as well as specific advice to the firm's clients."
Pradeep added, “We do a lot behind the scenes, but we also know that the media remains a vital channel that allows us to inform, influence and help build Deloitte’s eminence. The power of Deloitte Access Economics is that we are great storytellers. And right now, people need to hear accurate, evidence-based stories of our predicament – as well as ways to address it that offer hope.”
Deloitte Access Economics Partner Chris Richardson believes “everyone has a second job in life – the job of leaving the world a better place.
“Lots of us at Deloitte are lucky enough to do work that allows us to work for a better world at the same time as we do our day jobs. Helping our clients has an enormous impact. But that opportunity is perhaps particularly true for those of us in Deloitte Access Economics; and it is even more true right now.”
COVID-19: A once in a generation opportunity to reshape the economy
In the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Deloitte Access Economics considered a series of scenarios – of plausible and possible futures – to understand the signposts and transmission mechanisms which can guide decision-making. Dr Pradeep Philip, Lead Partner, Deloitte Access Economics said: “Our conclusion? We should design our recovery with reform at its centre, to build a better and fairer economy and country, because productivity is no accident. Australia can do, and must do, better than just return to normal”.
New research – Economic scenarios for the COVID-19 recovery – focused on three forward-looking scenarios and timeframes: from the future we hope for, to the future we want to avoid, to our view of the future we should prepare for. The scenarios forecast economic impacts and identify opportunities for economic and social reform.
Mapping global data to understand COVID-19
In 2020, Deloitte worked on an important project with the World Health Organization (WHO) to build a live dashboard that maps the health and economic interventions utilised for managing COVID-19 in 190 countries around the world. The dashboard enables government and business leaders to understand the outcome of those interventions on both the management of the pandemic and on the economy in their own countries or markets. It provides the most comprehensive dataset available globally and brings together health and economic data from 50 global datasets in a unique and integrated way enabling more informed decision-making. The dashboard, the creation and delivery of which was supported pro bono by Deloitte, will feature on the WHO website. Deloitte will also work with clients globally to help guide risk management approaches for businesses as we deal with ongoing waves of infection in our communities. The dashboard provides insights that will inform every business and government in these challenging times. Dr Stephanie Allen Deloitte’s Global Health Leader said, “The depth and breadth of Deloitte’s global health care expertise, economic analysis and digital capability make our firm uniquely placed to deliver this major global project. This source of real-time data will be invaluable for making more informed and evidence-based decisions”.
Elevating opportunities for jobseekers
When COVID-19 began to harshly impact on the lives and careers of many young people in 2020, Deloitte’s Tiffany DCunha, a manager in the firm’s Learning Solutions Consulting practice – along with her sister – began to think about how they could “pay it forward” during the difficult times.
“We had seen talented colleagues, peers and friends lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic and we wanted to do something to help,” Tiffany explained. They assisted with CV and cover letter updates, as well as passing on recruiter details to those they knew. But they also saw that the problem extended way beyond their own professional and social circles. So, in their personal time, they built a digital platform through which anyone looking for employment could request a CV review, and volunteers could register to be a second set of eyes on their website, elev8me.online.
Three months later, Elev8Me had a virtual volunteering army of 600 volunteers, and had helped 420 jobseekers with resume reviews. “We’ve received really great testimonials from applicants who found employment,” Tiffany said.
The team’s thinking and processes continue to evolve to keep up with the response. The manual onboarding processes have been automated and a data specialist recruited to build in recommendations for a jobseeker opportunity based on certain elements of their profile.
“We’re now being approached by organisations to be a registered charity partner. As we grow, our top priority is still to ensure we provide jobseekers with the best support possible and we’re really excited to see where this goes next,” said Tiffany.
Assisting small businesses to survive and thrive
As the impact of COVID-19 continued to grow, so did measures released by the government to support businesses through the crisis. Deloitte developed a COVID-19 Stimulus and Support Finder to identify and understand the stimulus and support available to businesses, helping them to respond, recover and thrive. The Stimulus and Support Finder deploys a series of high-level questions to help businesses identify which types and levels of support are available based on their profile.
An additional Small Business Roadmap for Recovery & Beyond workbook was created to support business owners to navigate through recovery. To bridge the crisis and lay a foundation to thrive, Deloitte identified three phases for businesses to work through:
- Reflect: Define what’s next for a business. Think about what has worked, learnings and what has been missed in response to COVID-19.
- Restart: Manage reopening. Determine where to focus first and what’s required to meet the most pressing business priorities.
- Revitalise: Use these new business priorities to reconfigure and revitalise the business. This requires a balance between ongoing and evolving needs.
The workbook addresses these phases as well as actions and considerations across customers, cashflow, supply chain, workforce, digital enablement and workplace.
Decarbonisation is our future: it must be factored into the COVID-19 recovery
We are experiencing a human tragedy. The COVID-19 crisis is leading to human loss and suffering, hardship and job destruction. It has necessitated immediate and significant public health and economic global responses, affecting all of us, both now and for the foreseeable future. But with the economic recovery comes great opportunity to embrace a low-carbon future and refocus on the green economy rather than stick to 20th century business models and infrastructure. A modernised economy with a more sustainable production system is in our sights.
Seizing the moment: how Australia can build a green economy from the COVID-19 wreckage. Governments need fiscal policies that achieve both short-term recovery and set a longer-term beneficial direction for the economy.
As attention shifts to reflating economies it is time to ensure clean energy, transport and smart infrastructure are at the heart of any longer-term stimuli. A key feature of our current crisis is that all sectors have been disrupted and some devastated. But now, in the very midst of lockdown, we must turn our attention from response to recovery. An unprecedented scale of government recovery measures is already upon us. With the scale of these interventions, COVID-19 is fast bringing our economy to an inflection point – one that will define the structure of our economy for decades and help us to rebuild the lucky country.
With the global shift towards low carbon by investors, corporates and citizens, decarbonisation is perhaps the most significant longer-term issue that must be factored into the recovery. Failure of governments to do so may disadvantage economies with existing infrastructure and production capital that’s becoming quickly outdated, requiring additional future upgrades. It may also lead to bailing out, or letting fail, businesses whose value rapidly diminishes due to being unviable in the low-carbon future. This future is not so far away as countries and companies work towards ambitious 2030 emissions targets. Poor investments today would soon be exposed.
In the very midst of lockdown, we must turn our attention from response to recovery. Recovery and building resilience go hand in hand. Resilience to climate change will continue to be an objective in a post-COVID future. Building for climate risks is building economic resilience, and recovery plans, so targeted, taxpayer dollars will have been invested wisely.
Understanding disruptive technologies in mental health
The World Economic Forum and Deloitte Australia have embarked on a joint two-year project to contribute to better mental health outcomes on a global scale. Based on Australian as well as international health data, it is estimated that almost half of the world’s population experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. This currently includes 300 million people with depression, 284 million with anxiety and 178 million with an alcohol or drug abuse disorder. At the same time there are over 10,000 apps available related to mental health and less than 1% have been assessed for their clinical efficacy. The project engages executives and leaders from across government, big business, the public sector, technology, healthcare, and especially people with lived experience of mental ill-health, to advise on the development of an ethical and regulatory framework to support the strategic, safe and successful implementation of e-mental health solutions. The project’s objectives are to:
- Make the case for change as to how technology can support the delivery of improved mental health outcomes, including a global review of what technologies are available and the importance of using a framework to guide decision-making
- Create a decision-making framework, including ethical, regulatory, governance and funding considerations, to guide policymakers, employers, investors and providers to feel confident to build and implement e-mental health solutions
- Test and refine the framework in a real-life setting.
Deloitte Australia and the Forum have begun a project partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Health to pilot the toolkit in New Zealand and we are actively looking forward to identifying further national pilot opportunities. We have hosted workshops at Davos in January 2020 and the online webinar A Paradigm Shift in Mental Health in May 2020. We are planning major project workshops online at the Global Innovators Summit in December 2020 and Davos in January 2021. These ethics and governance workshops and partnerships mark a turning point in the project from research and community-building towards our project’s second objective: creating a governance framework for ethical, safe, strategic and confident use of technology in mental health. We believe technology has the ability to support the early detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental ill-health and make care much more accessible throughout the world than it is today.
Helping rural workers in Sri Lanka
Deloitte Australia has been recognised as a leading provider of pro bono services. In FY20 we delivered the equivalent of $12 million in pro bono services.
In February 2020, a Deloitte team travelled to Sri Lanka to work with our national community partner Oxfam on a major pro bono project to improve the lives of poverty-affected rural workers, especially women. In Sri Lanka, the average farmer earns less than $275 AUD per month, which is 75% lower than the median Sri Lankan income. The project is part of Deloitte’s WorldClass goal to positively impact 50 million lives by 2030. The aim is to increase the farmers’ income by improving the quality and quantity of products they produce in the handloom, fruit, vegetable and spice sectors.
The joint Deloitte Oxfam initiative will help to improve local communities’ welfare through various initiatives such as increasing female economic participation and empowerment, increasing producer income and crop yield, reducing the impact of price fluctuation, and building alternative income to hedge against climate and crop adversities.
Four key sustainable development outcomes are expected:
- 20% increase in income through improved produce
- Increased skills for more than 930 people
- A more inclusive and gender-equal economy
- Increased women’s participation by influencing national and regional policies.
Lifting our commitment towards reconciliation with Australia’s First Peoples
During 2020 National Reconciliation week (27 May-3 June) we launched our formally endorsed Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). A Stretch RAP is the third in Reconciliation Australia’s framework of four RAPs, the first two being Reflect and Innovate – and the final one being Elevate. A Stretch RAP is about embedding reconciliation into everything we do. Deloitte’s RAP Working Group Chair, Professor Deen Sanders, said Reconciliation Australia’s endorsement of our Stretch RAP was a “unique and important” milestone for the firm. “I am immensely proud of the firm and deeply appreciative of the leadership and of Deloitte Chair, Tom Imbesi’s personal invitation for Deloitte’s RAP to be led by its Indigenous people.” Deen said.
Senior RAP Officer with Reconciliation Australia Christine Dernee said, “On behalf of Reconciliation Australia, I would like to congratulate Deloitte on a great plan which we are pleased to endorse as a Stretch RAP.” The new RAP was the culmination of three years of intense work where we have substantially increased our focus and commitment to listen and work together towards better and fairer outcomes for Indigenous Australians – and to bring all Australians together.