The Hunter business community showed a successful Australian business woman and former Prime Minister’s wife its generosity when she visited the region this month.
Thérèse Rein was in the region to promote and fundraise for the work of Barefoot College, of which she is Patron. She spoke at the Newcastle Business Club luncheon and at a private fundraising dinner that evening. The events raised $20,000.
At the luncheon, all of the funds from the three sponsors, Hall & Wilcox, GWG Partners and Jirsch Sutherland combined with some proceeds from ticket sales to allow Newcastle Business Club to donate $7,000.
Additional donations were made by businesses and individuals at the lunch.
Advertising agency Enigma and aged care facility, Moroba’s new registered training organisation both sponsored a Barefoot night school.
Organisations at the private fundraising dinner in the evening included Keystone Lawyers, People Fusion, Life Without Barriers and PwC. Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson and Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon also attended.
At both functions, Therese spoke candidly about the trials and tribulations of starting and growing her business. She spoke about the need for purpose in business and in life. She said all staff in her business knew their purpose was to walk along-side clients to help them to find solutions to make their life better.
Thérèse founded the human services company, Ingeus to help people with disabilities find work. Ingeus then generalised the person-centred, strengths-based approach to working with people who were long-term unemployed. The firm grew from a single person in an attic office to have 6,000 colleagues serving 500 thousand people at any one time in 12 countries around the world.
Local businesswoman, Shivani Gupta has brought Thérèse to the region and organised the fundraiser. Shivani is the only Australian Board Member of Barefoot College.
“The support of Newcastle Business Club and the local business community was amazing and will mean 12 night schools can run for an entire year,” Shivani said.
Shivani said Hunter people can have a further opportunity to support and see the work of Barefoot first hand with her. She is leading a professional development tour of India in November.
Thérèse’s business success was recognised as EY Champion Entrepreneur of the Year and Queensland Telstra businesswoman of the year. Thérèse was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 2010 and has had three honorary PhDs conferred. She was the Queensland representative of the Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors and sat on the Board of the National Employment Services Association.
She has spoken at OECD forums on employment, particularly of people with disabilities, at congresses of the World Association of Public Employment Services and for other peak global bodies. She studied psychology at the Australian National University, doing her honours thesis on learned helplessness as a model of depression before practicing as a Rehabilitation Counsellor.
Barefoot College has been operating for more than 40 years. It has two main programs that are designed to sustainably help women and girls to help lift themselves out of poverty.
Solar Mammas teaches grandmas solar technology skills so that they can return to their village as solar engineers. The women can bring power to their villages to help people to study, access clean water and undertake other business opportunities.
Barefoot College also runs student led night schools for girls in rural India who are taken out of education to work to support their families.
Today, Barefoot College serves people in more than 90 countries.
IMAGE | Australian Board Member of Barefoot College, Shivani Gupta; Thérèse Rein; and Newcastle Business Club President and Founder of The Marketing GP, Holly Martin.