03/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 21:30

Education—a key driver of progress

I strongly believe access to a good education is fundamental as we #PressforProgress.

Listed as one of the United Nations' 17 goals to transform our world, Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 states that we must 'ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and promote lifelong learning opportunities.' In many places, children (girls in particular) don't have access to education or are not encouraged to use their education to create a better future for themselves and their families.

One of the benefits of a strong Corporate Responsibility program is that it provides a platform to see where inequity exists as a real issue in our own communities. It gives us context in which to build a better world, and education has come to the forefront of our review of the issues that need to be tackled. By helping girls benefit from a good education, they're more likely to grow into women with full contributing power and economic stability.

As part of our Australia/New Zealand Give Back program, we wanted to choose a partnership that would influence the SDG Goal 4 in our region. The Smith Family was perfect, because it focuses on supporting young disadvantaged Australians through education and provides opportunities for our AECOM team members across the country to give back in a tangible way through volunteering, mentoring, donating and fundraising.

Last year, I volunteered as an iTrack mentor through The Smith Family and had the privilege of working with a Year 9 student as she considered her future career. My mentee, a very bright person with amazing potential, had not been encouraged to think about or start planning her career path. It was a humbling and rewarding experience to give her focused attention, help her build confidence, and provide support and ideas with regard to what her future could look like. It reaffirmed my belief that a good education, coupled with career counselling, can make a huge difference in the lives of so many.

As a mother of three daughters, I'm also driven to #PressforProgress in my personal life. Recently, my eldest daughter came home and told me she had been interviewed as part of a film being shown at the United Nations about gender parity. Apart from being amazed that she's been listening to me, I was also heartbroken that my intelligent, capable daughter needed to be interviewed about gender equality.

My wish is that through our collective efforts, she and all women can just get on with being amazing and not have to campaign for what should be basic, fundamental rights.