Co-op carves its way to top business spot with diverse workforce

ABOVE: Co-op chief executive Simon Stahl, Trevor Kenny, Dan Smith, Keith Caldwell, Steve Fergusson, Charlie Caldwell and John Seccombe. Photo: Contributed

Casino’s largest business has plenty to celebrate.

The Casino Food Co-op is the winner of the Northern Rivers 2022 Regional Business of the Year.

The independent judges praised the Co-op for its passion and commitment to business excellence and for the dedication to a diverse and inclusive workplace where more than 1000 people are employed.

At the awards night at Southern Cross University, the Co-op took out three other categories of Outstanding Business Leader to chief executive Simon Stahl, Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion and Excellence in Sustainability.

The winners will represent the region at the State Business Awards in Sydney on November 18.

The win for the Co-op wasn’t only about the meat industry.

Earlier this month, the Co‐op launched a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

Chairman John Seccombe said the Casino Food Co‐op joins a network of more than 1100 corporate, government, and not‐for‐profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation.

A working group for the Reconciliation Action Plan includes Dan Smith, Anne Toohey, Trevor Kenny, Stephen Fergusson, Lisa Walker and Troy Freeburn.

“We engaged Tracey Piccoli a proud Bundjalung woman and artist from Casino to help tell the story of our reconciliation journey,” Mr Seccombe said.

“Tracey is the daughter of Brian Olive, one of our long serving employees here at the co‐operative.

“We are delighted with the artwork (she did) which we will treasure for years to come as a reminder of our heritage and region”

The artwork Ms Piccoli did symbolises many things: See the artwork on the banner in photo at the top of the page.

The outer green circle represents everyone’s connection to local Country and the land. The middle red circle represents all people connecting with each other who work at the Co‐op. The orange centre circle represents everyone’s connection to the river. The platypus represents the centre of our community. Our connection to our totem and to the local community people. The four blue circles signifies that we are all connected. 

The Co-op has partnered with TAFE NSW to develop Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander Traineeship pathways to employment.

Currently we have 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people employed on site, Mr Seccombe said.

Part of the program includes onsite mentoring.

“We will continue to build an inclusive and diverse workforce where everybody’s contribution is valued,” Mr Seccombe said.

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