Celebrating Volunteer Week: Meet Three Suncorp ‘Sun Chaser’ Volunteers



Celebrating Volunteer Week: Meet Three Suncorp ‘Sun Chaser’ Volunteers

National Volunteer Week is an important time for Suncorp Group. Many of our people share our commitment to giving back to the community, through their passions and pursuits outside of work. In this latest edition of the Sun Chasers series, we meet Jessica, Aaron and Livi – who each volunteer their free time to support important causes close to their hearts and hear how Suncorp supports a meaningful work/life balance that enables them to make a difference.

Meet Jessica Semple

#Meet Jessica Semple

  • Suncorp Group Role: CTP Claims Handler - Customer Excel team
  • Volunteering Cause: Farm Animal Rescue

Jessica Semple’s warmth, compassion, and empathy shine through when she is helping insurance customers, injured in car accidents, navigate the CTP process. Turns out they shine just as bright when she’s ‘off duty’ too, on her Toogoolawah acreage, caring for vulnerable farm animals who desperately need her help.

Whether at work in her Suncorp polo, or in her dusty boots on the farm, Jessica supports with rehabilitation and recovery journeys, so humans and animals alike are equipped with the support they need to move forward positively with their lives. 

In both roles, Jessica finds purpose and fulfillment, and is grateful for the balance and flexibility Suncorp Group provides her. 

Jessica Semple, Suncorp CTP Claims Handler and animal rescue volunteer

I have worked for Suncorp for almost eight years. It has always been inclusive and supportive. Flexibility is a huge requirement for me personally.

“There have been a few, rare times where I have been required to leave work unexpectedly due to an animal emergency, and my leaders have been supportive.” “I know if an animal emergency arises, I will be met with understanding and empathy from my team.”

Jessica partners with Cranky’s Farm Rescue to rehabilitate and rehome farm animals  

Cranky’s Farm Rescue is a registered charity which rescues and cares for neglected and/or unwanted farm animals such as pigs, chickens, cows, horses, ducks, and goats. Some have been surrendered by their owners, others have disabilities, and sadly, many have experienced abuse. 

Jessica and her partner Adam, a veteran, are volunteers who support Cranky's by taking in rescued animals that need help, giving them medical attention and care, and sometimes adoption. 

Unfortunately, Jessica predicts it to be a growing area of need in the community, as the cost-of-living crisis makes it harder for some animal owners to adequately provide care, especially for animals with complicated health needs.  

“Most rescue groups, like our partner Cranky’s, receive thousands of emails a week about animals needing homes or rescuing,” she said.  

Jessica and Adam’s goal is to expand Cranky’s ability to help more animals, and their new forty-acre property at Toogoolawah is well set up for this, with dog proof fencing, night yards and specialised enclosures for rescued animals. They are also designing a large playground that will be disability-accessible for Summer, their beloved rescue goat, who loves to play.

Animal rescue volunteering can be heartbreaking, but is incredibly worthwhile  

In the world of animal rescuing there is often more heartbreak than success stories like Summer’s, but it is all worth it, according to Jessica. 

"I do it for the purpose that it gives me. We often say that when we rescue an animal, they save us right back,” she said. 

“I need animals to ‘fill my cup,’ and Adam does too.” 

Adam previously served in Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD. Jessica explained that one of the biggest impacts of animal rescue volunteering was how it had helped Adam’s mental health.  

“It was like volunteering lit a fire in him and gave him a new purpose in life,” she said. 

“All the positives outweigh the negative, and we can’t wait to continue to welcome more rescue animals to our property, as we continue to build our capacity over time.” 

“And having an employer that supports me to do this, that’s really special.” 

Meet Aaron Heard

Performance Improvement Lead in the Consumer Claims Customer Service

Volunteering Cause: Men's Health

Aaron Heard understands the importance of empathy and engaged listening, whether it is as a Lead in Consumer Claims Customer Service, or as a volunteer facilitating a ‘Dads in Distress’ weekly group session, supporting dads struggling after relationship breakdowns.

WARNING: This article contains references to mental health and suicide.

‘Dads in Distress’ (DiDs) is part of ‘Parents Beyond Break Up’ (PBB), a not-for-profit organisation that supports parents experiencing distress or trauma through family breakdown and separation. Through weekly group sessions (and other support services such as a helpline that is open every day) the organisation aims to improve parents’ mindset and support them to take positive steps to improve their situations.

Aaron explained that put simply, PBB exists to keep parents alive and in their kids’ lives.

“All dads who attend my DiDs group session have a unique story to tell. These dads are often suffering from situational distress. Isolation and suicide ideation are common in dads when they begin coming to the support sessions,” he said.

“Common struggles include ongoing separation from children, the complexities of the legal system, and communication issues with partners. 

Aaron Heard, Suncorp Performance Improvement Lead and 'Dads in Distress' Volunteer

My role is to create an environment to ensure dads are provided with a safe space to share their feelings and situation, to check in, while leaving in a better position than they arrived in.

It is a situation Aaron knows well, having experienced a difficult journey after his own separation years ago, which later inspired him to take on a volunteer role within DiDs. 

“The struggles that dads share create a deep level of empathy in my soul that drives me to ensure they receive the most appropriate support and ideas that the group can provide,” he said. 

The free, weekly group sessions are especially beneficial in regional areas, where many parents may find it difficult to readily access mental health support services. Aaron leads a group in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales.

Data released in 2020 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed the number of Medicare-subsidised mental health services decreased dramatically as the distance from capital cities increased.   

While PBB does not replace the role of a psychologist or counsellor, many attendees find it beneficial to be part of the support group while also seeking professional mental health support.

“It is extremely rewarding to know that I can support dads through difficult separations. Their children, their previous partners, and the community in general, all benefit from improved wellbeing of attendees,” he said. 

“It is an honour to be part of this extremely caring organisation.”  

Aaron is also grateful to Suncorp Group for providing him with the flexibility to pursue his volunteering role.  

The people at Suncorp are fantastic! They are incredibly supportive.

"Having flexible hours of work has provided me with the time I need to lead my DiDs group, while also building my skills and knowledge.”

Meet Olivia Sinden

Senior Insights Advisor – Customer Service Performance Insights 

Volunteering Cause: Youth Development  

Livi Sinden is a highly regarded and influential Suncorp Group employee; a Senior Insights Advisor who uses data to uncover business pain points or areas of success, to help the company positively influence the customer experience. She also leads the ‘Amplify’ Employee Resource Group (ERG), Suncorp Group’s first ERG for our LGBTIQ+ community and their allies.

You would never guess Livi was once a very shy child, and that it was joining Scouts Australia as a five-year-old that helped build her confidence, capabilities, and leadership skills. Today, Livi gives back to Scouts in a volunteer leader role, teaching the youngest Scouts cohort – the five-to-seven-year-old ‘Joeys’ group - practical survival skills that build confidence, resilience and critical thinking.

“Scouts Australia is all about empowering youth to learn every kind of skill they need for real life as adults,” Livi said.

“It covers leadership and survival skills, with a teaching focus on resilience, innovation and taking initiative. It’s about building confidence. 

Livi Sinden, Suncorp Senior Insights Advisor and Scouts Volunteer

Scouts was my safe space for many years and gave me opportunities to grow. Now that I have aged out of being a youth member, it's absolutely my passion to give back and provide other kids the opportunities that I got.

Livi spends about one hour per week leading the Joeys group, plus time spent preparing the weekly program, and supporting regular Scouts camping trips.  

“They learn how to build things, how to camp and survival skills, like what to do if they are lost on a hike.”  

Livi also admits to tying a lot of shoelaces.  

“There's so much that we're able to teach them, and I think kids are underestimated at this age. But they are tiny little sponges absorbing everything,” she said.   

Innovation in teaching is important too, and Livi creates games to help Joeys learn new skills.  

“Scouts is very highly outdoor based. There is something about the fresh air and the possibility of exploring that is beneficial for young children, as well as following rules and structure,” she said.  

“We’ve been told that psychiatrists will recommend parents of neurodivergent kids to Scouts, because of the consistent structure, where everyone should feel safe and included.”  

Inclusion is also an important part of the Suncorp Group culture that Livi admires.  

“I've always loved the Suncorp culture. I finished my degree early because I loved working here so much,” she said.  

I love our focus on doing what is right for the customer. Even if we don't always get it right, that passion is there in every person you speak to. 

“I don’t feel like I am working for a big corporate company - it feels like we're trying to give back to the environment, the people; like we are working on building a better future for everyone.”  

Suncorp Group’s culture also supports Livi’s work life balance, enabling her to volunteer her time each week with the Joey Scouts.   

“There's a lot of autonomy and power that Suncorp gives to people that is reflective of the internal culture. We are encouraged to help our teammates just as much as we are supported in going outside of the organisation to help the community,” she said.  

“I will be probably one of the longest-tenured Scouts in Australia at one point in my life, and I'm totally comfortable with that!”  

Volunteering at Suncorp

This National Volunteer Week, Suncorp Group thanks all the volunteers who give back to the community.  

All Suncorp employees are encouraged to give back to the community as part of our workplace giving approach, Collective Giving.

Collective Giving empowers our employees to make a difference and choose how and who they give back to, whether it is fundraising or volunteering.

Suncorp Group offers paid volunteer leave to eligible employees.

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