Katie Liew is part of the Project Team as a Project Advisor.
Katie Liew personifies the Latin ethos Audendo Atque Agendo ‘By Daring and By Doing’. Graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University and after completing post-graduate CPA studies she spent 10 years in the mining and resources industry as a Management Accountant.
“I’ve always been passionate about international aid, social impact, human rights,” Katie said.
“I went on a two-month trip to Africa which included time in a 110-hectare garbage dump in Jakarta. After seeing this I knew I had to do more. I returned feeling a mixture of emotions, I was completely dissatisfied, angry and deflated with the state of our world. Frustrated with the thought of spending the rest of my life doing something I didn’t care for.”
Katie quit her job in 2017 as an accountant to begin The Underground Collaborative, a social enterprise that provides employment and housing solutions for those experiencing, or at-risk of homelessness. The name was designed to bring light to otherwise ‘taboo’ topics and help address systemic issues through collaboration.
“I'm passionate about helping to break the cycles of homelessness, as well as its stigmas, and to shift society's perception and help raise awareness on our social issues. The goal is to educate, empower and employ, and for locals to help locals,” said Katie.
The first initiative for The Underground Collaborative is a coffee cart, Ground+Co which will train and employ those facing barriers to employment. The cart provides an opportunity for customers to engage directly with employees and by the first year of operations the lives of at least four people experiencing, or at-risk of homelessness would have been transformed by providing at least six month’s training and experience.
With her background in social enterprise involving homelessness it’s no surprise Katie applied for a role with the Alliance.
“I wanted to join the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (WAAEH) because in starting my own social enterprise, I was really excited to see something that was so aligned with my work, and to have the opportunity to be a part of a really powerful movement to help drive sustainable change to end homelessness.
“It is also an honour to work with incredibly passionate and knowledgeable people in the sector, and those with lived experience, who I would be able to learn from, which has been invaluable in helping to navigate through the complex issues.”
The task for Katie as Project Advisor is to drive the WAAEH Strategy forward as the Alliance becomes more established.
“My experience in starting The Underground Collaborative in terms of general start up (which the Alliance can be likened to), but also my background in accounting/business has provided a sense of naivety, which I feel has been beneficial in thinking differently,” said Katie.
“It will allow me to hopefully bring in relationships within the corporate and private sector, which can be better harnessed as we look to progress the Strategy.”
In the short time Katie has been with the Alliance she has enjoyed seeing positive action from conversations progressing. “I love the learning opportunities – not only for myself, but for the wider community as we raise more awareness; providing a level of education and breaking down some of those common misconceptions.”
The Underground Collaborative are currently raising funds and securing a location for Ground+Co to operate, and invite anyone who would like to be involved and learn more, to head to the website: www.theunderground.org.au