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Shirley helps tackle the big issues in her new role

Published:18 March 2019

The Big Issue's newly appointed National Operations and Events Support Coordinator, CQUniversity Alumnus Shirley Boon, is helping to provide meaningful opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people.

CQUniversity Alumnus Shirley Boon is striving for social change as The Big Issue’s newly appointed National Operations and Events Support Coordinator.

The Big Issue is a not-for-profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives, through the sale of its magazine subscriptions.

As part of her role, under the direction of the National Operations Manager and the Events & Marketing Manager, Shirley is responsible for the coordination of various The Big Issue programs such as the Women’s Subscription Enterprise, which provides job opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged women.

Shirley, who has both a Master of Project Management and a Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation, said she had been inspired by The Big Issue's work for many years.

“I first noticed The Big Issue magazine when I moved to Australia from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia a few years ago. Its vendors were selling the magazine around Melbourne, and I’ve been purchasing it ever since,” Ms Boon said.

“However, it wasn’t until 2016 when I took part in The Big Idea competition, Australian’s leading social enterprise immersion and competition for university students, that I got to know The Big Issue better.

“Through participating in the competition, I came to learn more about how The Big Issue makes a social impact through its programs and touching the lives of the homeless, disadvantaged and marginalised.

“Since then, I admired the organisation’s work from afar, until the opportunity came about for me to apply for my current role, which I was very excited about.”

Shirley said although she had been in the role for only a short time, there were many aspects which she enjoyed.

“The role requires great flexibility and agile thinking and often involves me applying high-level problem-solving skills, which is what I enjoy the most. I also love troubleshooting and finding new solutions for issues within the organisation’s operational structure,” Ms Boon said.

“Most importantly, though, my role has given me great insights into how the organisation continues to make a difference and create sustainable social impact.”

Shirley said her CQUni qualifications complemented her new role perfectly, providing her with the critical skills required for the role.

“During my Master of Project Management studies, I learned the fundamentals of developing and creating sustainable business solutions; the concepts and methodologies of project management, and understanding the complexities of projects, which are all critical to my new role,” Ms Boon said.

“The Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation helped me to understand the complexities of social issues and the importance of finding sustainable and measurable solutions to take them.”

Shirley said that, throughout 2019, she would be directly involved in an array of tasks which related to a various The Big Issue programs and departments.

"I will be directly involved in the project coordination and administration that supports the Street Magazines Enterprise (SME), Women's Subscription Enterprise (WSE) and Community Street Soccer Program (CSSP)," Ms Boon said.

"I will also coordinate the national corporate volunteering opportunities, where corporate partners are given the opportunities to be involved in helping to change lives of homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people by creatively engaging their staff in various programs and activities. It's a huge job, but it's extremely rewarding.

“This role gives me a platform to continually advocate for positive change, and I believe it will help form a solid foundation for my future career aspirations – to become an experienced project manager who leads collective impact projects and social enterprises which make a difference.”