On 23 May, the GO Foundation held a Parliamentary Breakfast in Canberra, at parliament House.  Below are the transcripts of two speeches, one from Jill Hannaford from GHD and one from Shirley Chowdhary, the CEO of GO.

Jill Hannaford profile photoI am delighted to be able to share with you the perspective of GHD, a mutlidisciplinary Professional Services firm, as to why corporate Australia is partnering with the GO Foundation.

GHD was founded in Victoria in 1928 and for 90 years we have been working on infrastructure projects across Australia to have a positive impact on the communities in which we work . We have a network of 45 offices around Australia – the majority in regional areas.

Through our partnership with GO we are able to mentor and guide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students. We are able to do things like STEM activity days where our engineers and scientists spend time with the GO Scholars showing them the wonderful world of science, engineering, technology and maths. Our Aboriginal professional staff members can share their career journey and pique curiosity about practical STEM careers. We enable the students to think about how roads are designed, where their waste goes or how bio-banking works.

GHD employs 3500 people in Australia and the vast majority of them come from STEM backgrounds. They solve complex problems and create thoughtful and innovative solutions – be it working with the NSW Department of Education on the redesign of a school in Moree or acting as the Technical Advisor to the Army for its Aboriginal Community Assistance Program. Recently we assessed the social impact of the Redfern Waterloo redevelopment proposals in Sydney. In each of these examples, and for all our projects, we are impacting the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students are keen to give back to their community, very few have thought of doing that through STEM. But that is possible when they know more about the infrastructure and utilities that they use every day. Through GO they can have a pathway, they can be supported and enabled. With GO, organisations like GHD can have a collaborative impact. We can’t do it on our own but with GO and other members of their Ecosystem we can.

GHD is proud to be part of the GO Ecosystem, our people are committed to sharing their knowledge and we are keen to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pursuing STEM subjects and careers in engineering, environmental science, architecture and location intelligence to name a few.

I think back to my days at Griffith High School in south western NSW where in the top English class i sat next to an Aboriginal girl who was just as capable as me. I knew then and i definitely know now that that girl would not have the same opportunities as me in terms of education. This didn’t seem right to me and the inequity played on my mind for many years. I went back to Griffith to work on the Murrumbidgee irrigation Scheme water savings program and thought some more about my early high school days and the impact of the work that GHD does. Working in STEM is a great career and a great enabler for our communities.

The GO model works for us, it is simple but effective , it is focussed on high school students – the time that many young people decide their future career. It feels like a true partnership. It provides our people with the opportunities to do three fundamental things – share their technical knowledge, learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia and come up with better technical solutions that are cognisant of the end users of infrastructure including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Partnering with GO means that firms like GHD; corporate Australia, can be part of affecting positive change over time through education and opportunity. We look forward to a long partnership with GO.

Thank you.

– Jill Hannaford, GHD