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Here at Qantas Super, our purpose is to go above and beyond to help our members, so you can look forward. We know this is a value all of our members live and breathe in their own lives, so we wanted to recognise you and the work you do.

A few months ago, we ran a competition to recognise you: members who go above and beyond. We received entries from members who inspired us with what they do, so we wanted to start sharing their stories with you.

Meet Jessica

If you’re at the stage where you or your kids have been out of school for a while, you may be surprised to discover that the offerings at the school canteen – or tuckshop – have changed since your day.

Not only is the brown paper bag with your name and lunch order a thing of the past for many schools, long replaced by apps, but so too are the standard meat pies, stale chicken burgers, and Paddle Pops, with parents across the country working to create healthier menus for kids.

One parent is Business and First Class Flight Attendant Jessica Chester, who spent a year transforming her kids’ school canteen.

The work started when her daughter was a year or so into school and there were rumblings of the canteen potentially being closed down because it was losing money – after all, a school canteen is essentially a small business.

“I thought that would be a shame, because the canteen is one of the ways that kids learn how to use money and get brave to ask for things,” Jessica said.

Jessica and another parent, a dad with an accounting background, put their hands up to do an overhaul of everything from the menu, with Jessica testing new recipes, to processes.

“They were still counting coins and using brown paper bags, so we looked at all the different online operators and found an ordering system that wouldn’t cost us a lot of money,” Jessica said.

Another key process to bed down was staffing; while the team was able to hire a staffer, school canteens largely run on volunteers, and with parents now often working longer hours, it had been difficult to find people able to commit a number of day-long shifts ahead of time. To help, the team created a spreadsheet allowing volunteers to commit to one morning or afternoon at a time.

The team also found a way to get the wider school community involved, running a Grandparents’ Day high tea and ‘Ice Cream Fridays’ for the community on Friday afternoons during the summer.

“We had to work out different ways to be profitable without spending money,” Jessica said.

About a year into the project, the canteen was now running smoothly, and Jessica returned to flying full time.

Of course, her love for volunteering means she’s now giving back by helping with another organisation. She’s volunteering at the Steve Waugh Foundation, which helps children and families affected by rare diseases.

“The Foundation helped my daughter when she needed help, so it’s nice to be able to give back,” Jessica said.

Meet Anthony

Anthony Cohen had a classic Qantas career over his 16 years at the company: having started out in domestic reservations in Sydney, he had a stint in Melbourne before moving into relationship marketing, a space that was effectively the precursor to Qantas Loyalty, before moving to the IOC to work in crewing.

He then moved into a role in brand marketing, working on everything from the music played on board aircraft, helping to bring Oprah to Australia, major sponsorships, and more.

In addition to a wealth of different work experiences, Anthony said his time at Qantas also brought him community.

“Qantas people have always been family to me, and they continue to be; some of my closest friends are still the people that I worked with,” he said.

This was never more important than during the pandemic. Having just taken on a contract role in the hospitality industry in March 2020, Anthony found himself without work. Almost everyone he knew was in the same boat: his partner, a musician, was also left without work, while all his friends from the airline had also been stood down.

So Anthony took to LinkedIn and posted a call out, asking whether anyone had any jobs available.

“Without exaggerating, I got sent just over 3,000 jobs in one afternoon,” Anthony said. “It was mind blowing.”

As Anthony explained, many of the jobs were in supermarkets and warehouses, as click and collect and delivery services exploded, but, he said, “they were jobs.”

He began sharing them in a Facebook group for Qantas staff before realising that he needed a more robust system, soon finding a white label product that allowed him to set up a Seek-like jobs board.

“Over that weekend, my family just sat there plugging these 3,000 jobs into the system,” Anthony said.

Not long after, Anthony was contacted via LinkedIn by Ikea’s Australian HR lead at the time, who offered to help people with their resume. This proved popular, with Anthony quickly seeing there was more value in coaching than the jobs board.

He dropped the job board in July 2020, and by that September added mental health services, First Aid and mindset coaching, and general career coaching.

The organisation came to be known as Project Displaced (though it’s soon to go through a rebrand. Over the last three years, Anthony has registered the organisation as a charity and received a small grant from IMB Bank to keep it running.

It’s been an interesting challenge, he said, with one of the most important things he had to do is ensure the right policies were in place to look after both those needing help, and those providing it.

“We’re not a crisis service, but we have emotionally charged conversations. When you lose your job, even if you were just stood down, you go through a range of different emotions – you lose your sense of identity, you feel grief, you feel anger, you feel guilt,” Anthony explained.

“In some cases, people are feeling complex emotions, so we need to make sure that we’re looking after them, and recognising when people perhaps need help from maybe their local GP or services like Lifeline. In turn, I also need to make sure that my coaches are ok.”

Three years on, Anthony said that while the organisation continues to serve people who worked in aviation, he’s also looking at how they can help different people, from new arrivals to Australia, refugees, parents returning to work after parental leave, and more.

You can learn more about Project Placed here.

Meet Christine

Like so many others, Christine de Marigny found herself stood down soon after the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Her journey over the next three years was a difficult one, but she’s hopeful that sharing her story will help others who may need it.

Stood down from her job in Fleet Presentation, where she had worked for five years on the Dash aircraft, Christine unfortunately found herself homeless soon not long into the pandemic.

“It took me to a pretty dark place,” Christine said.

A case worker then introduced her to a company called Two Good Co, which works to support, empower, and employ women with lived experience of homelessness, domestic violence, and complex trauma.

The organisation’s work is two-fold: its business side provides catering services to corporates, with the catering work done by women in its employment program. The organisation also provides volunteering opportunities for businesses, with the output then donated to shelters.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful program, and I’m a prime example of why something like that does work,” Christine said.

As Christine explained, the program was not just about “cooking meals and getting paid”, but rather, the emotional change that she went through.

“It was the emotional change that happened for me that was the most profound. The program taught me consistency, and how to just back up and get out of bed and do it, even on the days I felt horrible and was full of anxiety. That was the biggest thing for me,” Christine said.

Having completed the Two Good Co program, Christine has now found full time work, is living on her own, and has just bought a small car – but perhaps the most important thing she’s gotten back is her confidence.

“I went there with absolutely no confidence…it was always in me, but I got so lost in transit that I didn’t even feel that it was there anymore,” she said.

“It takes a lot of courage to allow people in to dig deep and get it back again. But having it done in a safe environment is paramount; you need encouragement in a safe environment to get your confidence back again.”

You can learn more about Two Good Co here.

Share your story

If you’d like to share your story of how you go Above and Beyond with us, we’d love to hear from you – send us an email here.

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