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Westpac Foundation Board Observership Program

Are you looking for ways to grow and strengthen your Board?

Our Board Observership Program is a unique capability offering to our community partners seeking to bring new skills and energy to their boards without any ongoing commitment.

Developed in partnership with legal firm MinterEllison, the Program offers community partners the opportunity to invite senior corporate professionals to attend their organisation’s board meetings as an observer for 12 months.

How it Works

Observers will be selected from a range of talented senior professionals from across both Westpac Group and MinterEllison who have diverse skill sets and a genuine passion and interest in the community sector. Participants have experience in areas such as legal, HR, finance, risk management, business strategy, and marketing.

Boards will be involved in the selection process to ensure an alignment of skills and culture for the organisation and if a suitable match is found, will commit to involving the observer in all board meetings over a 12 month period. The observer will have no voting rights or obligations as a director or officer of the organisation but will be invited to contribute to discussions in an informal capacity. Boards will also have the opportunity to select more than one observer if required.

All observers and boards will sign an agreement which outlines the roles and responsibilities of both parties as well as provides assurance that the observer will adhere to strict confidentiality regarding board matters.

Westpac Foundation's Board Observership Program provides observers with a structured opportunity to prepare them for future directorships and includes governance training, support and networking opportunities.

How do I register?

The 2021 Board Observership Program commenced in March. Please feel free to complete an expression of interest for the 2022 program. Preference is given to boards that are community partners of Westpac Foundation or Westpac Group with a focus on education, training and employment. Please feel free to get in touch with us via email if you have any questions.

Case Study: Good Cycles

In 2019, Westpac Commercial Credit Manager Lucinda Makrakis was selected to participate in the Board Observership Program with Melbourne-based social enterprise Good Cycles (pictured above).

And that was just the beginning of their relationship.

Lucinda is among the 62% of Board Observership Program participants who have transitioned to become a Board Director or remained engaged with their respective organisation.

And during COVID-19, Lucinda has stepped in as Good Cycles Interim Chair to help sustain business operations and ensure they can continue facilitating job opportunities for young people experiencing disadvantage.

Social enterprises rely on good governance for their sustainability says Lucinda.

“It provides a framework and helps set expectations. Strong governance also gives the board assuredness to make rapid decisions, like when dealing with the impact of an unexpected global pandemic.

“The program provides organisations with an opportunity to have someone sit at the table with the skill they may need, while also offering a new perspective.”

For Good Cycles CEO Jaison Hoernel, Lucinda was there at the right time.

“Lucinda’s been able to spend the time and work to help the organisation during what’s been a really critical period, just to have those conversations and be there for me as CEO and to communicate strongly to the board,” said Jaison.

“Another advantage is that it’s evergreen,” he said. “Instead of discussions about short term issues, the conversations are ongoing. With Lucinda we’ve got a really strong connection to Westpac and she’s there supporting us all the time”.