Support for those in need

As one of the Hunter’s biggest private employers, Tomago is also one of the region’s biggest charity donors through a number of programs, including the Out-of-Pay Donation Scheme, which was established 33 years ago.

In that time more than 400 charities have benefited from Tomago’s generosity and what started as a $2000 donation in 1986 has grown incrementally, last year shooting past the magic $1million mark.

In June we again opened our hearts, giving some $40,000 from the Out-of-Pay Donation Scheme to two charities, with the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and Soldier On each receiving $20,000.

On Monday, July 8, employees hosted representatives from both organisations onsite for a special morning tea and to hear how the donations will directly support the local community.

“At Tomago Aluminium we believe generosity knows no bounds,” company Communications Advisor, Katie Burns, said. “We know there are a lot of people in the Hunter doing it tough for a variety of reasons and everyone who works here takes great pleasure in helping-out those who need support.”

Employee donations are matched dollar-for-dollar by the business and the level of support has grown each year.

For the John Hunter Children’s Hospital the money will be used for specialist equipment to help with its outreach clinics. The items include a tympanometer to assess middle ear health and eardrum mobility, an audiometer to screen for hearing loss, a printer with which clinicians can print hearing screening results and a hand-held otoscope for viewing ear canals and eardrums.

For its part Soldier On, which works with former military personnel and their families, will use the money to provide ongoing support to veterans and their families, including psychological services and social connections to help veterans and their families secure their futures.

In addition to the Out-of-Pay Donation Scheme, Tomago Aluminium also supports the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service through another voluntary payroll deduction scheme.

The company has donated, on average, $50,000 each year for the last 15 years from employee deductions to the service and this year is no exception with almost $60,000 raised, bringing the total employee donation in that time to $710,000.

Last year TAC employees also came together to support struggling farmers and, with the amount raised by employees matched by the company, a total of $50,000 was achieved for the Buy a Bale campaign.

An additional $50,000 from the business is also distributed to another 20-plus local charities and community events through donations and sponsorships each year.

Last year the company donated $91,000 to local charities and employees donated $96,000 out of their own pay, bringing the total to $187,000, which was spread across local charities and community events.

“We are part of a great community and we like adding to that community spirit,” Katie said, “employees are hoping to raise a similar amount this year.”

Wayne Pringle, Australian Workers’ Union site delegate, said it is important for employees to give back to the community of which we are a part but adds that, sometimes, when workmates experience serious illness or injury or when the worst happens and families need support, the charity gaze has to turn inwards.

For those times, a framework for financial support, known as the Hardship Scheme, was put in place at Tomago. Started in 2017, this is a special employee assistance program that only comes into play when it is needed.

Employees agree to have $10 deducted from their pay in the event of a hardship.  Should an incident occur, the scheme’s trustees trigger the necessary actions for the money to be deducted and donated to the individual who is doing it tough.

Perhaps the words of US war veteran-turned-comic strip author, John Holmes, is best to sum up our community support. “There is no exercise better for the heart,” said Holmes, “than reaching down and lifting people up.”

Pictured above: Kiera Wray (The John Hunter Children's Hospital), Matt Howell (Tomago Aluminium CEO), Wayne Pringle (Tomago Aluminium Union Site Delegate) and Barry Kenyon and Deirdre Simson (Soldier On).

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