Home schooling has proved a struggle for many families during the COVID-19 pandemic but without Australian energy company Jemena’s donation of more than 100 recycled laptops, it would have been an impossibility for some Victorian students.

Jemena stepped in to help after they began noticing a large percentage of children who were going to struggle with home schooling.

“We retire laptops on an annual or quarterly basis,’’ said Andrew Davis, Jemena’s general manager of electricity strategy and commercial. “I approached our digital department to see if it would be possible, instead of disposing of the laptops, to have their memory scrubbed and rebuild them with new software so kids could actually do online schooling.”

Laptops were donated to St Vincent de Paul Victoria and the Brotherhood of St Laurance who have faced their own challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions have forced many services to close at a time when demand for assistance has spiked.

Jeff Antcliff, general manager, retail and youth at St Vincent de Paul Victoria said rather than businesses turning goods they no longer need into landfill they’ve been able to repurpose them for those in need.

“[It’s] a great partnership…I think that’s the most important thing because it’s really at the top level of the circular economy.”

The laptops, which have been rebuilt with pre-installed software use means children can go straight into learning.

One beneficiary of the donation is a Victorian family with three young girls who had been relying on the mum’s phone to access their online learning.

“If it wasn’t for this wonderful donation, we wouldn’t have been able to provide two laptops to that family and we’ve enabled them to continue their education…If you want to get out of poverty, I think one of the most important things is education.” - Jeff Antcliff, general manager, retail and youth, St Vincent de Paul Victoria

Reflecting on the role business plays in Australia, Andrew Davis said: “it’s about the real impact you have in the communities in which you operate.”

Jeff Antcliff said: “the partnerships that we have with many corporates here in Victoria, they’ve just been incredible.”

Around the country, businesses have been offering practical assistance to help their employees, customers, stakeholders and communities in which they operate get through COVID-19.

At Jemena, the company has introduced a range of support for customers including working with retailers to waive or defer electricity bills, free portable battery to use while electricity maintenance takes place, and a donation of $10,000 to Murujaga Aboriginal Corporate to purchase sanitising supplies around the Pilbara in Western Australia.

“Businesses, big and small, are the glue that keeps their communities together.” - Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia

“Across the country businesses are stepping up, along with the rest of the community. They are restocking their shelves, keeping their doors open, paying their suppliers as quickly as possible, keeping the lights on, and the telecommunications system working.

“These are the essential things that will keep our country going now and give us the capacity to bounce back.”

To learn more about what business is doing to support people through COVID-19 visit: www.bca.com.au/what_our_members_are_doing  

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