La Trobe Business School

Month: April 2019

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4

“We cannot have young people growing up without the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be productive members of our society. Our societies cannot afford it. And neither can business. Business needs a creative, skilled, innovative workforce. … And investing in education creates a generation of skilled people who will have rising incomes and demands for products and services – creating new markets and new opportunities for growth… Corporate philanthropy is critical, but we need more companies to think about how their business policies and practices can impact education priorities. You understand investment. You focus on the bottom-line. You know the dividends of education for all.”

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The facts

Since 2000, there has been enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91% in 2015 and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by almost half. However, more than half of children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa (41%), Northern Africa and Western Asia (52%), the participation rate in early childhood and primary education is low. A report from 2016 shows that in the least developed countries, only 34% of primary schools had electricity and less than 40% were equipped with basic handwashing facilities (SDG Goals Report, 2018).

The focus of SDG 4

The aim of sustainable development goal 4 (SDG 4) is to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Achieving this reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education (UNDP, 2019).

While education is the focus of SDG 4, it is closely interlinked with all the other SDGs and plays a crucial role in supporting their implementation.  Evidence shows that higher levels of education have a profound effect on improving health outcomes (SDG 3). Providing quality education also opens the door to future job opportunities which can help reduce inequalities (SDG 5 and 10), alleviate poverty (SDG 1), drive economic growth (SDG 8), allow individuals to access basic amenities such as nutrition and sanitation (SDG 2 and 6), and contribute to building a more peaceful society (SDG 16) (UN Global Compact, 2019).

La Trobe Business School and SDG 4

La Trobe University was founded half a century ago to broaden participation in higher education and has done so for many thousands of students who would otherwise have been excluded from the opportunities provided by a quality university education.

Aligning with targets to achieve SDG 4, La Trobe Business School and the University more broadly have significant policies and programs that encourage and support an accessible, inclusive and equitable quality education for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations including people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, first in family, out-of-home care backgrounds (care leavers), refugee children and disadvantaged children from regional and rural areas. It is also significant to note that almost 50% of La Trobe Business School students are from a first in family background.

Thus, the La Trobe University motto “Qui cherche trouve” (Whoever seeks shall find) remains as relevant today in terms of accessibility to a high-quality tertiary education.

CR3+ network

The development of the videos on the 17 sustainable development goals, showcased in this blog series, was a collaborative effort between LBS and three other business schools from around the world, or the CR3+ network.  This CR3+ partnership is another way in which LBS is demonstrating its commitment to SDG 4. Namely, building our international networks and focusing on SDG 4 on a global scale through our research, teaching and outreach activities as part of the CR3+ network.

SDG Video

The fourth video is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). The video features Maria Gloss, director of Education and Culture Sector of the Hospital Pequeno Príncipe talking about education being the “raw material of life” and what education means to children in a hospital environment. The video also features Maria Silva, secretary of education of the municipality of Curitiba, the largest city in the Brazilian state of Paraná. Maria talks about some of the 206 actions, programs and projects the municipality is involved with and their connection to SDG 4.

Please enjoy the presentation:

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3

Workforce success for employees on the autism spectrum

Employment for individuals on the autism spectrum is an increasingly important societal issue. The unemployment rate for autistic individuals of working age is 31.6 per cent, which is over three times the rate of unemployment among people with a disability, and approximately six times that among people without a disability. Therefore, in 2017, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) 2017 launched its Rise@DHHS program.

Rise@DHHS program

Rise@DHHS is an award-winning program created by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with autism non-profit social enterprise Specialisterne Australia, as the State Government’s first attempt to provide leadership in its own employment practices by employing people on the autism spectrum. This pilot program has been evaluated by a team of researchers from La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) and LBS. The full report can be downloaded here.

Lead author Dr Rebecca Flower, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at OTARC, noted “The traditional job interview is a common barrier for people with autism, who may communicate differently to non-autistic people. Candidates in the Rise@DHHS program were given a chance to showcase their skills in a supportive environment, as opposed to talking about them.”

The results

The research report summarises in-depth interviews with the eight people on the autism spectrum who were hired for the pilot program, as well as surveys and focus groups with co-workers and managers. The research identified the most successful aspects of the Rise@DHHS program, including changes to the recruitment, selection, and onboarding processes. Furthermore, focus groups with existing DHHS employees indicated that the program has had a positive impact on themselves as individuals, stating they felt like they had grown personally through their involvement with the initiative and were now mindful of things like clarity in communication.  

The impact of employment on individuals

Most importantly, the research demonstrates the tremendous impact that employment has for individuals with autism. Prior to working as a Rise@DHHS employee, Adam Walton had spent long periods of time either unemployed, or in short-term, casual roles. When discussing the program, he noted:

“It’s been a lifechanging experience for me, being able to have a routine and more structure in my life. I feel like I’m finally contributing to society. I don’t feel like I’m a burden.”

Rise@DHHS employee Adam


The researchers identified several recommendations, including that workplaces need to prioritise diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. “The findings of this research align nicely with other studies, showing that it’s really all about understanding autism, supportive management, and including people. This is a great thing, not only for individuals with autism, but for the companies employing them,” Dr Flower said.

LBS researcher and study co-author Dr Jennifer Spoor points out that “employing people with autism often requires only small changes to management practices, such as making communication clear or being flexible about sound or lighting in the workplace, which often benefits all employees.”


Funding for the research was provided by DHHS and by an Engagement Income Growth Grant from LTU's School of Psychology and Public Health.
More information on the program and the research can be found in the OTARC report here. You might also like LTU News’ article Workforce success for autistic employees.

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3

The relationship between health and sustainable development is based on the premise that human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life, in harmony with nature. It further recognizes that the goals of sustainable development can only be achieved in the absence of a high prevalence of debilitating diseases, while recognising that health gains for the whole population requires poverty eradication.

The facts

Significant strides have been made in improving health outcomes and life expectancy, however, people are still suffering needlessly from preventable diseases, and too many are dying prematurely. Progress has been uneven, both between and within countries. There is a 31-year gap between the countries with the shortest and longest life expectancies. At least 400 million people have no basic healthcare. More than one of every three women have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their life. And, did you know that every 2 seconds someone aged 30 to 70 years dies prematurely from noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer? (United Nations Development Program, 2019).

The focus of SDG 3

Overcoming disease and ill health will require concerted and sustained efforts, focusing on population groups and regions that have been neglected. The specific focus of sustainable development goal 3 is on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health; infectious disease and non-communicable diseases, and; more efficient funding and access to health systems (UN Knowledge Platform, 2019). The targets related to this SDG seek to address some key areas such as:

  • Maternal and new born mortality
  • HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, Hepatitis B and waterborne diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease
  • Suicide prevention, and mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Road traffic injuries
  • Family planning
  • Hazardous chemicals and pollution
  • Tobacco control
  • Vaccines and medicines access
  • Universal health coverage

All the while strengthening the institutions, structures and workforces that deliver these outcomes.

Australia’s Voluntary National Review and SDG 3

On 15 July 2018, Australia released the Voluntary National Review (VNR), which details Australia’s implementation of the SDGs since their adoption in 2016.  The report addresses how Australia is performing against each of the goals and includes case studies of activities currently undertaken to achieve them. These activities include government initiatives and efforts from business, civil society, academia and youth. Australia’s Health 2016 summarises the key findings in relation to Australia’s performance against SDG 3:

 “While there are positive signs and progress on many fronts, it is clear that Australia is not healthy in every way, and some patterns and trends give cause for concern. Chronic diseases… are becoming increasingly common in Australia due to a population that is increasing and ageing, as well as to social and lifestyle changes… Presenting a broad picture of health status can mask the fact that some groups in our community are not faring as well, including people living in rural and remote areas, the lowest socioeconomic groups, Indigenous Australians and people living with disability.”

Australia – Building a healthy ecosystem

The Australian approach to this SDG is centred around the importance of healthy ecosystems and socio-economic factors to human health. For example, the Victorian Government, and particularly Parks Victoria, has worked closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and its member organisations to develop an integrated approach recognising the contribution of nature and parks to overall health and wellbeing, building on a message of “Healthy Parks, Healthy People”. Similarly, Government mental health programs are complemented by broad-based community initiatives such as beyondblue and QLife, a peer-supported telephone and web-based counselling and referral service for LGBTI people.

As a country, we also continue to make strides, and are a global leader in many areas of public health and medical research.  For example, through the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products and the development of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine.  Advances in technology may also assist with addressing health needs in rural and remote communities through the introduction of digital technology, including mobile health, online health records and telehealth systems.

Further, in addressing health challenges and ‘leaving no one behind’, a strategy has been introduced that focuses on reducing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is caused by a mix of social factors, risk factors and differences in access to appropriate health care. And in 2019, the Government announced a royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability, following similar royal commissions which examined the abuse of vulnerable people, including institutional responses to child sex abuse and aged care facilities.

SDG Video

The third video in the SDG series starts with Professor Suzanne Young who gives a broad overview of the third sustainable development goal and its associated targets. Suzanne explains the Every Woman Every Child movement, the infectious disease points but also mentions the high number of premature deaths because of non-communicable diseases, the increase in road traffic deaths and the lack of physicians in about 40% of countries.

The second part of the video shows Dr Emma Seal, a research fellow from the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe Business School. Emma researches the relationship between sport and sustainable development but also provides examples of the Sport for Development project funded by the Australian government, such as the Girls Empowerment through Cricket initiative. The project included girls between the ages of 12 and 18 in Papua New Guinea and consisted of cricket participation and education sessions focusing on key health issues impacting these girls.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.


This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:

Conducting an internship at Australia’s first online party marketplace

Georgia Le Vagueresse, an LBS student studying Event Management and Marketing, sat down with Business Newsroom to talk about her successful internship at Oh It’s Perfect; a platform for party planners to find, buy and sell lifestyle and party-related products and services.

Georgia attending an exclusive event at Sugar Republic as part of her internship

How did you get your internship?

Initially, I knew I’d have to do my own research and reach out to companies to find something unique and interesting. I was really picky on where I wanted to apply as I truly wanted an all-round experience and not simply be there to fetch a coffee for the employees I was working with.

I found Oh It’s Perfect and sent them an email asking if they had an internship available. I explained that I was studying a Bachelor of Event Management and Marketing, and within a week I got a response asking if I’d like an interview!

It is really beneficial to start looking for an internship early in your degree as it takes a while to look around and find companies. I found it better to find companies that I was interested in and email them directly, rather than looking for an advertisement on Seek for example.

What did your internship involve?

Oh It’s Perfect is an organisation that is run mostly on social media. We provide inspiration for our community of followers by reposting other people’s styled parties on the company’s Instagram page, whilst also writing up blog posts on these parties. This way people who are interested can see the process behind the party and also see the vendors who aided in styling the event. That, in turn, gets the vendors’ business. We also create our own content and style our own shoots to create our own party content to publish.

I was responsible for writing up blog posts about parties submitted to us, but also sending direct messages (DM’s) to people to see if they would like to be featured on our blog. I’d get about 4 blog posts published a week, whilst additionally partially managing the company’s Instagram account.

About a month into my internship I began writing bigger pieces, like doing the write up on our own styled shoots, and I began emailing companies that would like to be featured in our styled shoots. This included sponsors and collaborations with brands.

How did the internship enrich your student experience?

There are so many things I learned. I gained valuable knowledge in my writing skills. I heavily developed a professional persona in how I interact with other businesses, and learnt the legal requirements a business has to go through when collaborating with others. My internship revolved around the marketing side, in particular social media marketing, which has sparked more of an interest to this side of my studying, as well as wanting to pursuit additional study of social media marketing in the future.

What is your next step?

I will be continuing on with Oh It’s Perfect as the Deputy Editor while finishing up my degree in a year’s time. After that, I hope to further my studies, especially in social media marketing.

LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems

Over the last years, the agtech sector has taken off with a proliferation of agtech and foodtech accelerators and incubators across the country. Agtech will become increasingly important in driving Australia’s agricultural innovation but is the sector ready? Andrea Koch discusses how Australia can grow its own agriculture innovation ecosystem.

About Andrea

Andrea Koch is the Principal of Andrea Koch Agtech, an agricultural technology strategy, marketing and product development consultancy. Andrea is also a director with the National Farmers Federation Board and SproutX, Austalia’s first agtech accelerator.

Andrea holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and a Master of Sustainable Development and is from a fifth-generation Australian farming family. Her family background and varied career allow her to bring together farming and digital technology. She sees a future where digital technology underpins our farming sector being the most competitive and innovative in the world.

The rural versus the urban world

Australia has a unique agricultural research, development and extension system and Andrea sees a divide between what she describes as the ‘rural world’ and the ‘urban world’. On the one side there are users of on-farm technology – that is the farmers and the ‘ecosystem’ of rural suppliers, advisors and consultants. On the other side, are the investment and finance community, tech developers, urban based research institutions and the agri-political groups. These worlds are somewhat disconnected, and Andrea presents some of the changes that are required.

Please enjoy Andrea’s presentation.

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School.

More blogs in the 2019 LBS Innovation Series:

La Trobe is getting employability right

LBS researcher Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh examined the experience of graduates from China who returned to China to seek employment after completing tertiary education at La Trobe University. Her research found that students from China felt that having studied at La Trobe University made them more employable in China.

The first study

Jasvir conducted in-depth interviews with 19 Chinese alumni from La Trobe University who had returned to China to work. About 70 to 80% of Chinese international students studying in Australia return to their home country to seek employment opportunities (ICEF Monitor, 2016) and previous research has suggested that Chinese employers prefer local graduates. However, Jasvir’s study found that when it comes to having necessary work-ready skills such as leadership, communications and influencing skills, those who have spent some time studying in Australia have the upper hand.

Jasvir mentioned that the Chinese graduates she interviewed were “impressed with the level of investment Australian universities like La Trobe are making into developing international students’ employability skills through part-time work experiences at La Trobe or outside the campus, volunteering opportunities and internships.”

“Programs such as La Trobe’s Career Ready Advantage, designed with Australia’s leading employers to help develop more employable graduates, are clearly working”

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh

The interviewed graduates also said that having an overseas Masters’ degree was particularly beneficial when it came to getting jobs in China, and some had studied further to obtain chartered certification such as Chartered Professional Accounting.

The second study

Jasvir conducted a second study looking at the experience of international students studying in China, with a special focus on development of employability skills. Jasvir interviewed 30 international students, largely from Africa and Malaysia, who had studied at the highly-ranked Wuhan and Tsinghua universities in China. “While these two prestigious Chinese universities score high in terms of academic results, the students I interviewed recognised that content knowledge is not enough”, said Jasvir. Students were expected to find their own work placements and were given little support by the university support services. Thus, in contrast to Australian universities, the second study found that Chinese universities do not place much emphasis on developing employability skills of international students.

Producing employable graduates

Both of Jasvir’s studies have shown that Chinese universities need to increase their focus on helping domestic and international students develop the necessary skills required for entering the competitive and rapidly changing world of work. The good news is that La Trobe University is getting it right when it comes to producing employable graduates!

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh is an award-winning lecturer at the LBS’ Department of Management, Sport and Tourism. Jasvir has been researching on academic success, teaching and learning as well as employability issues relating to international students from Malaysia, Australia and China. Jasvir has received several top La Trobe University grants and has published in quality higher education journals as well as presented her work worldwide.

This blog was originally published by LTU News.

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2

After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again. Conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change are among the key factors causing this reversal in progress (SDG Goals Report, 2018).

Hunger facts

With soils, freshwater, oceans, forests and biodiversity rapidly degrading and climate change putting more pressure on the resources we depend on, many people, especially in rural areas, can no longer make ends meet. According to the United Nations, 1 in 9 people in the world today (815 million) are undernourished, the majority of those in hunger live in developing countries, and Asia is the continent with the hungriest people (two thirds of the total). Poor nutrition causes nearly half of the deaths in children under five, which translates into 3.1 million children each year.

 According to the World Bank, the world will need to produce at least 50% more food than we currently do in order to feed 9 billion people by 2050. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) links hunger and food security to development:

“In food – the way it is grown, produced, consumed, traded, transported, stored and marketed – lies the fundamental connection between people and the planet, and the path to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation

Ending hunger by 2030

Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger – aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The targets associated with this SDG relate to ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. Since food is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 2 is connected to other SDGs such as no poverty, good health & wellbeing, clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, climate action, life below water and life on land. These interconnections call for a global response to hunger and food security that includes multiple stakeholders and multi-level governance structures. It requires capacity development at all levels, and investment in research, technology and innovation to mitigate some of the potential negative trade-offs between the SDGs and strengthen the synergistic effects. 

Some of the organisations that are working hard fighting hunger are World Food Programme, the World Bank Group and International  Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The World Food Programme is the leading humanitarian organization that works towards a world of Zero Hunger. They deliver food assistance in emergencies and work with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

The World Bank Group invests in agriculture and rural development to boost food production and nutrition by encouraging climate-smart farming techniques, restoring degraded farmland, but also by breeding more resilient and nutritious crops, and improving supply chains for reducing food losses. The IFAD focuses exclusively on rural poverty reduction, working with poor rural populations in developing countries.

A focus on Australia

Hunger is not only an issue for developing countries. In Australia, it is estimated that two million Australians rely on some form of food relief, which roughly equates to one in ten Australians. Of these, there is a skew towards regional Australia, low-income earners and pensioners, and children make up approximately 22% of this category (Foodbank Hunger Report, 2018). 

Agriculture is a significant sector of the Australian economy and provides enough food to feed 80 million people, while also providing 93% of the nation’s food supply. The challenge for Australia’s, and the world’s agriculture, is to become more productive and more resilient in order to tackle the interconnected challenges of poverty, hunger and climate change. At the other end of the spectrum, food waste is a growing wicked problem that Australia has to tackle.  While organisations such as Food Bank, SecondBite and OzHarvest have made significant strides in salvaging food and offering food relief, food waste continues to cost the Australian economy close to $20 billion a year. In addition to the cost to the economy, food waste has cost implications in a number of areas, including loss of water and energy, greenhouse gas emissions and of course, hunger (Department of Environment and Energy, 2017).

SDG Video

The second video in the SDG series features Donna Burnett and Dr Tim Clune from the La Trobe Business School. Donna focuses on the problems of hunger and food security, the SDG’s and emphasises the shift in thinking that is necessary to reach the zero-hunger goal. The video discusses the ways businesses negatively impact food security, but also explains what businesses can do. Ultimately, Tim talks about the issues around climate change, how to build the capacity to enable resilient and sustainable agribusiness systems for the future.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:

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