Blog post
April 14, 2020

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay from Share the Dignity

In our third edition of Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change, we chat with Rochelle Courtenay, the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity. Rochelle talks to us about how she stays connected with over 6,000 volunteers across Australia and how she motivates those teams to work to end period poverty.

Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends seen across social and traditional media about home not always being the safest place for some people, and how social communities can help combat this.

Because many of us are working from home, we saw this webinar series as an opportunity to connect with each other, learn from subject matter experts and hear their stories, as we adapt to a new way of working.

Ngaire Crawford from Isentia talks feeling safe and secure at home

4:55 – Although most of us are now working from home, home isn’t always the safest place for everybody.

5:25 – The main topics currently reported on mainstream media:

  1. The increase in family violence – a topic that has been present since the lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand.
  2. Connectivity and education – there is concern about people not having access to the right equipment or  not having good enough internet connectivity for homeschooling.
  3. Poverty during lockdown – there are restrictions in place to stay at home and access to food more controlled than ever before. Food specials are a thing of the past and fresh food may be more difficult to get.

8:55 – Within ANZ, data shows people are searching online about the rules for lockdown. What are they? Are they doing the right thing? What are the policies?

9:10 – On social media, people are reaching out and using their social channels to create connection, to remind everyone to check in on people and be a source of safety. During March, references to being scared and feeling unsafe more than doubled across ANZ.

Cluster topics driven by COVID-19 for feeling unsafe included: Rates, self-isolation, stress and mental health. 

Cluster topics driven by COVID-19 for feeling scared included: Government, kids, workers, rent, supermarket, police, trust and social media. 

10:15 – It’s important to see the good in social media right now – it’s the greatest facilitator of social connection. Not only can people reach out to others directly, toxic people and unhelpful communication can be called out very quickly. Always use your common sense when using social media, check your sources and investigate claims before relying on them.

13:13 – The importance of community

  • Communicating with your social media audiences and communities is valuable during this time. 
  • See the good that people are doing as well as the innovation.
  • Listen to your audience and ask for feedback. We’re all in our homes and more conversational than ever.
  • Be genuine and authentic when talking to your audience, if you look as though you are doing the right thing, then people will be on board. 
  • Follow on social media those affected most from lockdown and watch what they are doing and how they’ve adapted their businesses.
  • Watch cancel culture on Twitter, understand what’s driving people to call out brands and public figures on social media.

Rochelle Courtenay from Share the Dignity talks staying connected and keeping your teams motivated

15:45 – For the past five years, Rochelle has also been known as the ‘Pad Lady’. Share the Dignity was created after Rochelle read about the high number of Australian homeless women who didn’t have access to essential sanitary items. 

Twice a year, she drives two collections for sanitary items and runs the ‘It’s in the bag’ campaign each December. For this initiative, every day Australians are asked to fill a bag with essential items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary items, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and soap. For a woman who is fleeing domestic violence, it may have been weeks since she has brushed her teeth, so these basic items are essential for these women in need.

16:56 – Communicating online to her ‘Shero’ and ‘Hero’ volunteers has been the norm for Rochelle since she founded Share the Dignity. Using ‘Workplace’ for their intranet, internal communications via announcements to all 5,783 volunteers is easy and effective. 

17:45 – The most important thing when communicating is to be authentic and genuine.  We ensure the most important people (Sheroes and Heroes) within our charity are kept informed and are at the forefront of everything that’s done. We ensure our communication comes from the heart first and our heads second.

19:03 – Reinforce the message you are trying to communicate. With charities, it’s important to remind volunteers (and staff members) why they are doing the work they are doing. Often, different types of communication are developed to cater for different communication preferences. Videos are recorded and also written up to deliver the same message.

19:58 – Since COVID-19, Share the Dignity has adopted new engagement initiatives on social media. The most recent; a Mother’s Day campaign where the community was asked to share their favourite photo with their mum. The campaign encouraged people to connect and engage with one another, to share stories, smiles, tears and laughter. It was a great way to create a community within a community. It’s important to help people within your community through difficult times.

24:30 – A key part of running a charity is to sustain volunteers’ passion. We do this by sharing stories about the women they have helped and continue to help.  We make sure they know how much of a difference they are making to someone else’s life.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton from RU OK? 

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown from The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV


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