12.11.2020Working Together: NAB

1/ How does your organisation contribute to the wellbeing of society?

In April 2020, NAB announced a new strategic ambition to serve customers well and help our communities prosper. A key component of “what we will be known for” is making decisions for the long-term to deliver sustainable outcomes for the communities we operate within.

Within Government, Education and Community (GEC) banking at NAB, our clients are predominantly in the not-for-profit sector. We play an important role in supporting the growth of organisations and the associated sectors they service. They deliver a direct community benefit through their actions and achievements. This aligns well with NAB’s priority of building stronger communities that are sustainable, accessible and inclusive. We aim to support via community grants, volunteering, workplace giving, supporting Indigenous success, and most recently our commitment to increasing the stock of affordable housing in Australia – as demonstrated by NAB joining the Constellation Project as an alliance member.

Launch Housing is a large Melbourne-based not-for-profit organisation with the goal of ending homelessness. Launch Housing plays a significant role in addressing the social issue of homelessness and has worked with several organisations to achieve positive outcomes that have provided permanent accommodation for long-term homeless and reduced the number of rough sleepers across Melbourne.

2/ Prior to COVID-19, did your organisation collaborate with a NFP / private organisation to deliver a positive social outcome? How did you collaborate and what did you achieve together?

In the past year, NAB and Launch Housing have taken significant steps to deepen the partnership between the two organisations. Their relationship has a strong foundation and history, with NAB a key banking partner to Launch Housing.

In 2019, NAB’s GEC team & Skilled Volunteering Program, in partnership with Australian Business Volunteers (ABV), nominated Launch Housing as their community partner to participate in an immersion project. This was a two-week deep dive made up of 14 volunteers selected from NAB’s high talent cohort, and co-ordinated by ABV; an organisation with whom NAB has a long relationship.

The group of 14 volunteers collaborated with the Launch Housing team on two major strategic business challenges to develop a viable business model to:

  • improve the performance and scalability of their existing social enterprise, Home Ground Real Estate, a real estate agency; and,
  • to create a business case around the financial benefits of the redevelopment of a vacant site into an affordable housing tower in Melbourne’s south.

After the two-week period, the NAB group presented their findings and recommendations to the Launch Housing Board, with debriefing sessions held upon completion of the program. NAB received positive feedback from the Launch Housing team around the significant and ongoing impact the program has had on the organisation over recent months.

In addition, Launch Hosing’s CEO has presented to a large cohort of NAB employees (across Business and Private Banking and JBWere). By doing this, the mission statement and work of Launch Housing has progressed right throughout the NAB network.

3/ Have you and your partner organisation increased collaborative efforts in the wake of COVID-19? What measures have you taken? Please describe.

Central to this development has been the deliberate action of Launch Housing to define a clear 2020-2024 strategy, which outlines the roles that partners can play in Launch Housing achieving its purpose collaboratively.

The ‘Critical Friends’ dialogue, which involved NAB, together with Launch Housing’s strategic planning ultimately delivered a clear platform that NAB and Launch Housing (and other stakeholders) could work on together.

With this background, Launch Housing presented NAB GEC a plan of potential areas, or ‘strategic impact partner opportunities’, for further engagement and collaboration. Through discussion of this proposal, we have agreed on four initial key focus areas. In arriving at these four, it was important that the agreed areas were of significance to both parties and that it was reasonable for both parties to be able allocate the necessary resources towards the achievement of their outcome.

While these steps were not necessarily borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic, their timings did overlap, and the impact of the pandemic on the collaboration cannot discounted. The pandemic has presented many challenges, but it has also offered some opportunities. For Launch Housing, the opportunity has been to reduce the number of rough sleepers by utilising vacant accommodation in the Melbourne CBD and to subsequently highlight this outcome through the media and with policy-makers. The accompanying ‘Melbourne Zero’ strategy, provides a clear pathway to how the eradication of homeless in Melbourne can be achieved.

For NAB, working with a partner that has such a clear and specific set of objectives has been great, as we have been able to activate around areas of knowledge and capacity that we possess, and feed directly into Launch Housing’s plans. As a partner organisation, it is critical to play your part. Through the clear plan presented by Launch Housing, NAB has been able to do that, with a sound foundation that has clear expectations.

4/ Why will Melbourne be a better city if more NFP and private organisations collaborate in the post-pandemic period

Melbourne has traditionally been a strong economy, which in recent years has enjoyed strong growth on the back of a diverse range of businesses excelling in their respective fields. As one of Australia’s major economic zones, and the home to a significant number of not-for-profit organisations and social entrepreneurs, it has always had the components of establishing a culture of collaboration and partnership which benefit both sectors. While COVID-19 has had a marked impact on the city, it has also provided the opportunity to reflect on things that can be done differently – whether that be more efficiently, inclusively or sustainably.

It is evident that there is notable upside in fostering strong ties between the private and NFP sectors, but perhaps the most critical is the merging of ideas and options that can arise. In the case of NAB and Launch Housing, the collaborative effect is a cohort of more astute and aware people across Melbourne of a significant social issue impacting our most vulnerable people in the community.

Aron Whillans, Banking Executive, GEC, NAB

Bevan Warner, CEO, Launch Housing

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