Young people need to be prepared for a world that is changing rapidly thanks to digitisation and globalisation, says our Foundation Chair, Steven Sargent. He believes the next generation of employees not only require a deeper education in STEM-related subjects, but must develop an adaptive capacity, a sense of endless curiosity and be truly flexible, to flourish in a world of work that will be very different than it is today.


Today’s school children are likely to live 100 years, work for 65 of them and have around 6 careers in their lifetime. But rather than be threatened by these changes, today’s young people are rising to the challenge, with resilience, optimism and entrepreneurship. Our Head of Foundation, Sean Barrett, reflects on the programs we’ve supported this year, and how young people, teachers and schools are embracing a new spirit, to meet the needs of Australia’s emerging STEM economy.



At the heart of our Foundation is a network of individuals from across Origin, who help facilitate activities and advocate on our behalf. Thank you to our Foundation Champions for your support in 2017:

Sebastian Tegen-Anderson



Distributed amount in FY 16/17


Grants Program


Give Time Volunteering program


Give2 Matched Giving program (includes
employee contributions)


(includes employee contributions)

Distributed amount since inception (2010)


Grants Program


Give Time Volunteering program


Give2 Matched Giving program (includes employee contributions)


(includes employee contributions)



Our Grant Program provided resources to a range of organisations who are preparing young Australians for the future world of work; a future where STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills will be paramount.

The Smith Family’s Let’s Count program for pre-schoolers continues to impress both in terms of the thousands of children benefiting, and the proof it provides that children have no disposition against mathematical concepts; indeed they thrive on solving tasks.

It is only later in life that young people turn away from STEM. That is particularly the case with females who are underrepresented in the STEM subjects. Initial findings from research work we commissioned from Engineers Without Borders, and will publish in 2018, indicate that one solution is to contextualise STEM and link it to social outcomes.

Catherine Richards is proof of this hypothesis. Catherine has not one, but two engineering degrees with First Class Honours from the University of Newcastle, which she studied for simultaneously whilst working full time. In 2017 she was awarded the Origin Foundation John Monash scholarship: she is our 7th scholar and 4th female.

With her scholarship Catherine is studying for a PhD at University of Cambridge in England, where she’s addressing the complex issues of energy, water and land sustainability. Her vision is to bridge the gap between STEM, policy-making and business on critical world issues, and lead Australia’s sustainable resource future. She is a future global leader in sustainability.

We saw further proof of the research hypothesis in the classroom. Young people were excited by participating in applied learning; seeing what the sciences can do and achieve. Outreach programs run by Beacon Foundation, the CSIRO, and Engineers Without Borders engaged children in creating solar vehicles, mini clean-water plants, and prosthetic limbs.

The STEM-based industries and jobs of the future provide an opportunity for Indigenous young people. Many of these new jobs will be in new companies, and new industries, where all will start, and progress, on merit. There will be no history of ‘low expectations’ to dog Indigenous people. So, we were excited to form an alliance during the year with the University of New South Wales to deliver two scholarships each year for Indigenous young people to study for a degree in engineering, or science.

The inaugural scholars for the Origin Foundation Grant King Indigenous Scholarships program have been selected and have begun their university studies at UNSW. Caitlin Ramsay from Moreton Bay in Queensland will study for a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Science. She has volunteered as a maths tutor in her local community and overseas. Patrick Long is a keen sportsperson from Bathurst in NSW and will use his scholarship to study for a Bachelor of Science and Business. Both are residing on campus.

The Grant Program is not solely focussed on STEM. We continue to focus on educational opportunity for Indigenous children, and young people living in rural and regional Australia. We continued to support organisations working in these areas such as AIME, the Stronger Smarter Institute, Gawura, the Country Education Foundation, and the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal.

Origin volunteers at
Ashgrove State School’s
Tech Girlz Conference

Students at Brigalow making a prosthetic leg

Origin and EWB volunteers in the classroom

Catherine Richards, our
2017 General Sir John
Monash Scholar

Read more

Patrick Long AND Caitlin
Ramsay begin their
studies at UNSW

Students from Roma
enjoying hands-on

Catherine Richards reflects
on her first few months at
The University of Cambridge





Origin employees give their time and skills through our Give Time volunteering program to help young people reach their potential in education.

1 in 5 employees participated in our volunteering program in 2016/17. Through their work in the classroom, our volunteers impacted more than 2,000 children.

Some of Origin’s most experienced STEM professionals brought science and engineering to life for students in schools throughout Queensland and NSW, through our partnership with the CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools program.

Origin’s Randeep Agarwal and Helena Lo are amongst a cohort of volunteers developing partnerships with teachers, to bring programs of STEM excellence into the classroom.

“We have seen a significant boost in student engagement in STEM subjects by involving industry professionals like Randeep, who has a unique ability to take complex principles and turn them into fun and practical learning opportunities,” says Corinda State High School Principal, Helen Jamieson.

From the Torres Strait to Corinda, students are experiencing the humanitarian side of engineering as they build their own solar fans, sustainable bridges and prosthetic legs from limited resources. The school outreach workshops are developed by Engineers Without Borders, with the help of Origin employees.

Our partnership with the Beacon Foundation, connects employees with young people to share career experiences and explore the world of work. Our volunteers are using technology to mentor young people in some of the most isolated parts of Australia, including the remote Indigenous community of Goodooga in NSW.

“We are so grateful to have volunteers who can be patient, persistent and ‘come inside the tent’ to help us support vulnerable young people and allow them opportunities to access a circle of influence to discuss their aspirations and understand the world of work,” said Jacqueline Brewer from the Beacon Foundation.

1_in_51 in 5 employeesvolunteered "I really enjoy seeing the confidence of school kids working together to tackle problems in creative and agile ways. It can spark an idea, a change in outlook, or reshape the direction of someone’s life."

Origin volunteer

The house the kids built

Read more

powered engines

Read more




Employees participate in our Give2 matched-giving program by making regular payroll deductions, one-off individual donations, or participating in team fundraising events.

While it is difficult to determine the exact level of participation as employees may join in group fundraising efforts or elect to give anonymously, it is estimated that around 44% of employees engage with this program in some way.

Employees donated $328,292 through Give2 during 2016/17. When matched, more than $650,000 went to charities, with some of the most well supported being those organisations in mental health, leukaemia, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as organisations who work in developing communities such as Oxfam and World Vision.

Michael Ward has been determined to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues and suicide, since losing his 21-year-old brother to suicide. In November he undertook an epic 700km walk between Adelaide and Melbourne. Michael raised funds for MindBlank, who work with schools to reduce the risk of young people committing suicide.


in matched fundraising
for the community

Wardy's Walk

Read more



For Origin Parents

In November we ran a series of special events, Read 2 Me, for Origin parents and carers on early childhood literacy. Facilitated by Raising Literacy Australia, a non-profit organisation who run the Little Big Book Club program in South Australia, the events attracted 110 employees in Origin’s metropolitan offices. Participants learnt how to foster early literacy skills in their young children.

93% of participants said the learning session was “very valuable” them, 94% stated they felt better equipped to help their children with their literacy skills 82% said they are “very likely” to recommend this session to their colleagues.

The Read 2 Me workshops are part of a series of events we run for Origin employees, on topics related to childhood education.

"I came away much more informed, inspired and excited about reading to my girls."

Workshop Participant

Participant Loretta Van de
Pol shares her experience
of the Brisbane workshop.