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Telling stories that transform with Townsville’s iActivate initiative

Published:15 June 2021

Townsville publisher and iActivate student Julie Johnston.

She’s a storytelling powerhouse, and Townsville’s Julie Johnston is determined to empower her community with her work.

That’s why the busy publisher, publicity consultant and playwright joined iActivate, CQUniversity’s online social enterprise course supporting aspiring social entrepreneurs to take their ideas to impact.

Julie is one of eight North Queensland business owners taking on the 12-week course with face-to-face support, thanks to a partnership between CQUniversity and Smart Precinct NQ.

The Australian-first initiative launched in April 2021, and Julie said the course is providing inspiration as she takes on a big new challenge.

“The past year I became the publisher of BDMag, Townsville’s business development magazine which had ceased publication under its previous owners in December 2018,” she explained.

“I’d been a freelance writer for BDMag, and last year as so many businesses were hurting with the pandemic, I was seeing so many good stories that needed to be told, but didn’t have a platform.

“With the permission of the original founder, I relaunched the magazine in a digital format, and am now preparing to launch in print again in July – it’s been a lot to learn, especially when I’d never really run a business before!”

Julie is passionate about making the publication a support network for small business, and said iActivate’s practical and collaborative start-up advice was helping her build the business for good.

“Storytelling is so powerful in helping people understand their purpose and potential, and also in connecting people – and iActivate is giving me great ideas for really measuring the impact of BDMag, and maximising how the community benefits,” she said.

“It’s also got me thinking about local social enterprises I can partner with, to increase my social impact that way, too.”

iActivate launched in 2020, and is a collaboration between CQUniversity and for-good Brisbane-based business Impact Boom.

Julie’s Townsville cohort meets weekly with local and online facilitators, and she said the chance to connect was a great motivator.

“The weekly sessions definitely help me stay on track, and hearing what other people are doing in the start-up space, the tough things and the joys, it’s really been the highlight of the project,” she said.

“It’s great knowing you’re not on your own, and I think iActivate will be the start of relationships for years to come.”

With video, audio and written content, iActivate’s 12 modules are curated to give students clear and actionable steps in defining goals and impacts, understanding business for good ecosystems, applying sustainable and innovative business models, and prototyping, pitching, scaling and measuring impacts.

The content builds on Impact Boom’s successful Elevate+ Accelerator Program for emerging social entrepreneurs, and CQUniversity’s range of social innovation courses and initiatives, from entry-level to postgraduate, that have kickstarted thousands of changemaker journeys for students since 2015.

CQUniversity is Australia’s only accredited Changemaker University,

For more information visit cqu.edu.au/iactivate, and enrol to start iActivate now.