Posted on July, 5, 2017

Written by IMC , Sydney

Posted in Philanthropy

At IMC, we’re lucky enough to be able to give back to our communities. One of the guiding principles of our philanthropic work is to do what we can to help young people develop to their fullest potential. It’s one of the reasons we partnered with International Research Centre for Youth Futures at University of Technology Sydney to develop and deliver the Sky High program.

We’ve been the principal funder of Sky High since its inception in 2012, but our contribution runs much deeper and richer than providing financial support. Sky High is a two-year social justice program exposing young people in their formative years to a range of experiences, places and people. It educates them on career opportunities that they may be unaware of or see as inaccessible due to their circumstances.

Working with the UTS Youth Futures Centre, we’ve helped shape elements of the program to make the most of the resources we can offer. In doing so, together we’ve created a program that makes it easy for IMC people from all walks of life to get involved and share their knowledge, skills and interests. That could be in business, finance, technology, law or careers. We also host a number of activities at our offices, which gives students an appreciation of the realities of working life.

Recently, several IMC volunteers attended Sky High’s Courts, Law and Order event, which contextualises the way the law operates. These events include a visit to the local courthouse. Here, students experience a moot court and are taught about the roles in the court room. Students are also educated about the behaviours required to attend court before experiencing a real case in action.

We don’t expect every student to decide to become a lawyer afterwards. However, IMC participants like Oswin, who works in our legal team, would be delighted if they did.

“These sessions stimulate learning and engagement in civics – and hopefully spark interest in the legal process. I attended the same event last year where a judge actually came over and spoke to the kids during an adjournment. Interactions like this really humanise the legal system. As well as being very polite and well-behaved, the kids at this session seemed genuinely interested: there were plenty of questions throughout the day. It would be great if this event inspired one of the students to become a lawyer in future.

What we want students to take away from the experience isn’t that they should become a lawyer, it’s that they could. Through the collection of experiences the Sky High program offers, we hope to inspire and focus young people – to help them understand paths to attainment and, most importantly, build a support system that enables them achieve their potential and pursue their goals. Indeed, some are already getting an idea of what they want to do in future, as Melissa from our HR team discovered.

The event designed by the UTS Youth Futures Centre is all about inspiring students to follow their dreams, and they definitely got a good picture of various roles in law and law enforcement at the Downing Centre. I looked after a small group of Year 8 students on the day and we discussed other roles more broadly as well as what subjects they enjoyed doing at school. When I asked them if they would ever consider a job in HR, one of the students said, “No way, I hate dealing with people – I would much rather be an accountant!” Like I said, everyone needs to follow their passion in life!

It’s important to acknowledge that our partnership with Sky High isn’t a one-way relationship. Our people get a lot out of interacting with students, whether that’s because they’re sharing their own interests and passions, or because they gain a sense of fulfilment from making a positive contribution to the Sydney community.

You can learn more about IMC Sky High on the UTS website.