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Sustineo's 2021 - A Year In Review

Nina, Rob, Nicky, and Min celebrate their win in our end of year Riddle Room team activity

What a year! 2020 may have been the ‘unprecedented’ year, but 2021 was still a wild ride! Our team has continued to make lasting impact through our work in Australia and the surrounding region, while also supporting a number of organisations within the communities we are part of…here’s our Year in Review.

Our Team

This year was extraordinary for us in terms of the growth of our team – and not just in numbers. Our new team members have expanded our organisational capabilities so that we can have an even greater impact across the diverse areas we work in Australia and the Pacific.

In March, Dr Matt Allen joined us as Principal Consultant (Research). Matt brings a wealth of experience with over 20 years’ working as a social scientist specialising in the Pacific Islands region, especially Melanesia. Since coming on board, he’s contributed expert analysis and insights across a range of Pacific based projects, along with bringing in new clients and helping to further expand our partnerships.

In May, we welcomed Nina Davis into the fold. With a background in graphic design and communications, Nina is expanding her project management skills while also giving Sustineo a bit of a refresh in how we present our work. She also brings fresh insights and approaches to data visualisation for our research.

Shortly after, in July, Alison May joined the team as Principal Consultant (Evaluation). Border closures and working remotely from Adelaide has not stopped Alison from gelling with the growing team and contributing to Sustineo’s strategy and direction. She has greatly expanded our evaluation capabilities and brought in new domestic opportunities. Something we didn’t expect was her love of hardcore heavy metal and industrial goth

Most recently, in October, Dr Rob Hortle was welcomed aboard as a Senior Consultant. Rob completed his PhD in Oxford, where he found a love for the Oxford Comma, and gained valuable experience in both academia and consultancy. Rob’s skillset is helping advance our research work both domestically and internationally.

The rapid growth of our team was made possible with the supportive and collaborative culture that team members both old and new have worked to foster. We’re proud of what a great place to work Sustineo is!

The winning team at our end-of-year Riddle Room team activity: Nina, Rob, Nicky, and Min

The winning team at our end-of-year Riddle Room team activity: (L-R) Nina, Rob, Nicky, and Min

The close runners up at our end-of-year Riddle Room team activity: Tom, Matt, Asenati, and Ellis

The close runners up! (L-R) Tom, Matt, Asenati, and Ellis

Impact in our region and at home

This year, we increased our domestic project portfolio while continuing to have impact in the Pacific. Working for a mix of familiar and new clients, we had a busy year of delivering on our core purpose: to create and support positive and sustainable social, economic and environmental impact and change in the places we work.

Some of our domestic project highlights include:

  • National Indigenous Australians Agency Business Solutions Program evaluation. This year we welcomed the opportunity to work with the NIAA once again, along with Indigenous Business Australia, key stakeholders, and associates to undertake this important evaluation of a core component of the Government's 2017 Indigenous Business Sector Strategy. We look forward to completing this evaluation in 2022.
  • Director of National Parks South-East Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network Management Plan evaluation. Continuing our auditing and evaluation work with the Director of National Parks, the Sustineo team is in the final stages of completing an evaluation of the SE Network management plan for 2013-2023 and providing recommendations to inform the development of the new management plan.

Over the year we have continued to nurture and utilise our key partnerships, particularly in Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa. They have made it possible to undertake complex international research projects remotely. Here are a few highlights:

  • Pacific Labour Facility Baseline Studies. It has been rewarding to analyse and report on the data we collected in 2020 on the Pacific Labour Scheme.
  • ACIAR Climate Smart Agriculture opportunities for enhanced food production in PNG. In collaboration with the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions team, we have continued our work in PNG overseeing project monitoring and evaluation and the delivery of a baseline household survey across three provinces with our PNG partners Anglo Pacific Research and National Agricultural Research Institute.
  • DFAT Improving rural livelihoods via exploring carbon sequestration and trading opportunities in PNG’s coffee industry. We carried out remote data collection to produce findings on the governance arrangements needed to establish a carbon trading scheme in PNG, which have been shared at the COP26 and in discussions on the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme. Check out these short videos about the project featuring Matt and Ellis.
  • IOM Developing relocation guidelines for climate adaptation in Solomon Islands. Working with our longstanding research partner, Dignity Pasifik, Sustineo is developing evidence-based guidelines for planned relocation in Solomon Islands. The field of climate adaptation and mobility has been a new and important field for us to continue our work in Solomon Islands.
  • UN Women Research on leadership pathways of Samoan women. The year started with this exciting project examining Samoan women’s access to leadership roles, with successful data collection driven by our Samoa-based researchers, and very productive consultations with the client.

With 2022 just around the corner, we’re excited to get our teeth into some projects already in the pipeline. Domestically, we’re extending our work looking at skill gaps across Australian agricultural industries. Beyond our borders, we’re conducting an evaluation of the outcomes of facilitating livelihood adaptation to natural resource pressures in Lao PDR, as well as continuing our strong track record of work in Solomon Islands with an evaluation assessing gender inequality and community resilience.

Giving back

A core part of Sustineo’s ethos is giving back to and supporting communities we work in, beyond the project work we do as a company. Here are a few things the team got up to this year:

Half marathon for FemiliPNG

In April, our CEO Tom Sloan participated in The Canberra Times Marathon Festival…again (that’s 21km for those playing along at home!) as part of the FemiliPNG team. Through the work Sustineo has done in PNG, we know the importance of what FemiliPNG does in supporting survivors of family and sexual violence. Tom raised $2500 as part of his marathon commitment, and we look forward to egging him on next year… Check out this short interview about why Tom chose to run for FemiliPNG.

Furthering his connections to FemiliPNG, Tom is joining the board of Friends of FemiliPNG – a Canberra based support organisation for FemiliPNG. He hopes to continue to make some noise about the cause and contribute to FemiliPNG’s impact.

Tom with the FemiliPNG team in front of Old Parliament House, Canberra after completing his half marathon at The Canberra Times Marathon Festival

Tom (far right) with the FemiliPNG team after completing his half marathon at The Canberra Times Marathon Festival

YWCA Great Ydeas Grants

In April, we attended the YWCA Great Ydeas Innovation Breakfast where we stretched our networking muscles to support the YWCA and recognise the critical social issues affecting women in Canberra. The event was also the announcement of the 2021 YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas Small Grants Program recipients. This year, we sponsored the Sustineo Great Ydeas Empowerment Grant and were thrilled when it was awarded to two deserving nominees – Rae Knopik and Jean Du. The program provides grants up to $2,500 to support women, girls and non-binary people in the ACT to pursue their passions and improve our community.

The Sustineo team with YWCA Grant winners Rae Knopik and Jean Du.

The Sustineo team with YWCA Grant winners Rae Knopik (L) and Jean Du (R)

International Development Contractors Community

In September, our Executive Director Nicky Thatcher was re-elected to the board of the International Development Contractors Community (IDCC), the formal peak body representing international development consultants and contractors working with the Australian aid program. Nicky’s re-appointment ensures there is a voice and representation of smaller sub-contractors and consultants who contribute to the overall achievements of the Australian aid program.

Great Cycle Challenge

Nina Davis corralled a team to participate in the Great Cycle Challenge in October. Thinking it would be a breeze to rack up the kilometres riding to the office, our casualness was soon overturned when we were introduced to the reality of a lockdown here in Canberra. But with a 600km and $4000 team goal to reach for, we used the Challenge as an added incentive to get out of the house and check in with each other online as we navigated exercising during lockdown. We’re very pleased to say the team smashed their goals, raising a total of $4246.99 and riding 635km between them. The funds go to the Children’s Research Medical Institute, an independent organisation researching treatments and cures for serious genetic diseases and cancers affecting kids so that they can be out living life, not fighting for it.

Great Cycle Challenge success: $4246.99 raised of $4000 goal and 635km ridden of 600km goal.

Looking ahead

We are signing off for 2021!

After what has been a busy and challenging year, we are looking forward to a well-earned break. Many thanks to our clients, associates, partners, and our whole network for your ongoing support for the work we do at Sustineo.

The Sustineo office will be closed from 23 December 2021 and reopen on Monday 10 January 2022.

See you all next year – we have some exciting strategic business projects in the works, so stay tuned!


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