City Of Newcastle has today committed to a historic partnership with a local charity dedicated to helping women who have experienced the trauma of domestic violence.
Got Your Back Sista will be Council's inaugural official charity partner, selected after an extensive engagement program with 1,300 staff on the community issues they feel most strongly about.
From mid-next year, Council staff will be provided the opportunity to undertake, during work hours, two days' volunteer work. Charities will benefit from Council staff's diverse skills and experience, including marketing, accountancy, engineering, planning, landscaping and legal.
Local charity Got your Back Sista will partner with Council for a VIP lunch at Fort Scratchley on Saturday during the Newcastle 500 on White Ribbon Day, hosting 250 prominent members of the community and business world.
Concillors Peta Winney-Baartz and John Church together with Mel Histon and the Lord Mayor greeting Mark Winterbottom.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the partnership was the first in Council's new Community Impact Program, designed to partner Council with local charities and community organisations.
"This is a perfect opportunity to support a fantastic local charity," Councillor Nelmes said.
"It's also perfect timing. Saturday is White Ribbon Day - a time for everyone to consider the devastating effects of domestic violence and show their support in the fight against it.
"What better way than to support Got Your Back Sista and the work they do in our community supporting women escaping domestic violence."
As part of the partnership, Got Your Back Sista will be promoted at Saturday's Supercars event, where founder Melissa Histon will address the audience.
Ms Histon said she was excited about the partnership and the exposure it would deliver.
"We're dedicated to helping vulnerable women thrive and live independently and we are thrilled that City Of Newcastle shares our vision," she said.
"We want to keep that message going that domestic violence is never acceptable and we stand behind people experiencing it to reach out and ask for help."
Got Your Back Sista founder Mel Histon and Council's Interim CEO Jeremy Bath at today's partnership announcement.
Council Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said Council's role as one of the city's largest employers provided it with the opportunity to support Got Your Back Sista in a way that would be difficult for smaller organisations.
"Council has almost 1,300 people working for it," Mr Bath said.
"Our staff are passionate about supporting the community and have made clear they want to do even more.
"The reality is that for most working people, it's only the weekend when they have the opportunity to undertake volunteer work. Unfortunately, with family commitments for many of us, it's hard making time for charities and community groups.
"City Of Newcastle will change this forever with our commitment to provide staff two days every year where they can undertake volunteer work when they would otherwise be at work.
"This will not only make a substantial difference to our nominated charity and community groups, but also enhance the lives of our staff. As someone who has previously worked for an employer who allowed me to undertake volunteer work, I know that Council will also see tangible benefits, such as gains in productivity, staff morale, retention and recruitment, as well as a reduction in absenteeism.
"I hope other larger local employers will take interest in Council's commitment to providing its staff with an opportunity to work with local charities, and will consider following our lead.
"My door is certainly open to any CEO or Chairperson wishing to better understand the program or how it can benefit their organisation as well as the community.
"Our staff have indicated their three most-supported charities involve cancer, mental health and domestic violence. We look forward to announcing more partnerships in the near future."