Qantas Shares the Spirit with Australia

SYDNEY, 16 February 2004

The Australian of the Year, Steve Waugh, and Olympic Gold Medallist Cathy Freeman joined Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson this morning to launch the airline's new community program, Sharing the Spirit, at the Qantas Jet Base.

Ms Jackson said Sharing the Spirit involved an extensive program of events and activities aimed at bringing people together - with their loved ones, with their dreams, and with community groups cross Australia.

"Qantas has long been known as The Spirit of Australia. We carry this accolade with a feeling of pride and a deep sense of responsibility. To us, the Spirit of Australia means being there for all Australians whenever and wherever we are needed.

"It's a spirit that shapes the way we deal with emergencies going back decades. We were there In World War II, when Qantas flew supply drops and evacuation flights, kept open air transport links and maintained allied aircraft; we were there when Darwin was in crisis after Cyclone Tracey in 1974; we were there in the wake of September 11; and we were there in the aftermath of the terrible bombings in Bali just a few years ago.

"Specifically, this initial phase of Sharing the Spirit aims to connect the city with the regions and the bush; to connect young people with their futures;and to connect our Qantas extended family of staff and frequent flyers with their loved ones and the broader community."

Ms Jackson said the initiative would draw together the airline' existing community activities,core values,style as a company,and high aspirations for the future.

Cathy Freeman,swimmer Kieren Perkins, restaurateur Neil Perry, fashion designer Peter Morrissey and industrial designer Marc Newson, who designed the award-winning Skybed for Qantas, are amongst the first ambassadors for the program.

Sharing the Spirit will extend the airline's support of charities such as Mission Australia, Starlight, CanTeen, UNICEF and CARE Australia, as well as introducing new projects and other initiatives.

Examples of Sharing the Spirit activities planned for the coming months include:

* The Qantas Big Splash, Australia's first national swimathon, with kids from around the country swimming to raise money for their local club. The highest fundraiser in each community will go in a draw to win a place in a Qantas regional swim clinic hosted by Kieren Perkins.

* Regional and outback performance series with Qantas sponsored arts and performance groups.

* A youth program for talented kids, with mentoring by Peter Morrissey, Neil Perry or Marc Newson.

* QantasLink NRL Country Rugby League Clinics, with 80 top players sharing their talents with young Australians in regional Australia through workshops at schools and local clubs.

* The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards.

Ms Jackson said Qantas would collaborate with charity groups, staff, regional community organisations and other experts to create other experiences, events and opportunities to continually develop and extend the program.

"Over the past few difficult years, we have been reminded that, no matter how pressing the immediate issues, it's vital to nurture connections and community spirit into the future.

"These relationships sustain the people involved through good and bad times and in this current era they are more important than ever. Companies need to be as strong socially as they are economically, which means giving back to the communities as much as they gain.

"A key benefit of being a good community member is that a company is more likely to obtain the community goodwill that will help it to withstand external shocks. Good corporate citizenship is, in a way, one of the best forms of risk management. Sharing the Spirit is a very ambitious concept. It's about active contributions, not passive donations.

"Sharing the Spirit is a permanent commitment by Qantas and it is being led from the top of the company." To celebrate the launch more than 100 children and carers from UNICEF, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, CanTeen and Starlight joined Cathy Freeman and stars from the National Rugby League for a 45-minute scenic flight across Sydney in an aircraft painted with the Sharing The Spirit logo.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3033)