Laura Qureshi believes Australian mothers, as key holders to household finances, can become change makers by educating their children about social issues and by donating a percentage of their income to charity.
The latest OECD Economic Survey of Australia 2017 reports unequivocally that inequality has risen in Australia. Staggeringly, in terms of average wealth, somebody in the highest 20% has around seventy times as much wealth as somebody in the lowest 20% wealth group.
As someone who spent more than 10 years working with the Salvation Army, Laura knows firsthand the importance of helping those less fortunate. Likewise, as a mother of two young daughters, she knows the influence she has as she guides them through their early years.
She strongly believes that those of us who are privileged in Australian society should be donating a percentage of our income to charity. Laura instils these charitable pillars in her home and her business life, and is also passionate about understanding the psychology behind philanthropic behaviour.
Laura Qureshi is director and co-founder of DO Commerce, a full service digital agency specialising in end-to-end digital and ecommerce projects.
Question: At what age should parents begin teaching their children about money?
Laura Qureshi: Every child (and parent) is different, so there are no hard and fast rules; however, money is a necessary requirement for life, so I believe that the earlier you can introduce an understanding of the concept of money, the better. My four year old understands that money is something that you work for, and that you can then use it to buy items you need or want.
Question: What current social issues should parents be discussing with their children?
Laura Qureshi: It depends on your value system as a parent or family, but for me, discussing social issues such as marriage equality, supporting homelessness, and equal education opportunities for women is vital. I think as parents we don't want to rob our children of a happy, worry free childhood; however, we also don't want our children to be raised in a bubble and out of touch with the realities of the world. Providing insight into current social issues and instilling charitable values in your children is essential.
Children are also incredibly intelligent and perceptive; they absorb information from the world around them and have their own questions about why things are the way they are. The social issues that surround us and our kids mean it is essential to introduce a safe space where these topics can be discussed and understood with compassion.
Question: Why is it important to donate a percentage of our income to charity?
Laura Qureshi: As an Australian with a high quality of life and a certain level of disposable income, I think it is so vital to donate a portion of your income to charities that you support to help ensure that their work or contribution can continue. If you can afford to visit KMart every couple of weeks and fill the trolley, you can afford to contribute to charitable endeavours.
Question: Can you explain the psychology behind this type of philanthropic behaviour?
Laura Qureshi: To me, it is a duty. I am a white, educated, middle-class female Australian, which has afforded me great comfort and a position of privilege in the world. If I want to live in a world that helps lift up its fellow citizens and give opportunity to those that did not receive the same luck that I did, I need to walk the walk. It is so important for me to share the fruits of this beneficial existence.
Question: How can parents embed a practise of giving into their children's lives?
Laura Qureshi: We have a few philosophies in our home to instill a practise of giving: Regular cleanouts at home. My eldest selects toys or clothes that she no longer loves, (but are still in great condition) and we box them up and physically donate them together. At Christmas we shop together for food items and donate them to the Foodbank. Every couple of months, I ask my daughter what is important to her. It might be helping animals, or giving medicine to children. I then show her a charity online that might support what she feels strongly about, and we donate to that charity (along with our regular monthly giving). This involves her in the selection and ownership of giving.
Question: What percentage of our income should we be donating to charity?
Laura Qureshi: This is a personal choice and may depend on changing circumstances. We all have varying levels of income and expenses, so give what you can afford.
Question: How do you teach your own family about money and finance?
Laura Qureshi: My daughters are quite young so at this stage it is high-level teaching revolving around ensuring they understand -things' cost money. The food on the table, the clothes in their wardrobes, our home, electricity"all of these things cost money, which we work hard for. As they grow older, pocket money and part-time jobs will be essential to help us continue to teach them about money and finance.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Laura Qureshi: It starts with a sit-down breakfast together with the girls; a moment of presence that really sets the scene for the day. Followed by all the fun stuff"cleaning up, picking out clothes for the day, brushing teeth, etc. Then it's off to work/daycare/school.
I pick the girls up late afternoon so we can spend the evenings together as a family. My eldest has started helping me prepare dinner while my youngest plays, which is a really lovely routine. Over dinner, we have a little ritual where we all have a chat about the best and worst parts of each person's day, which helps create a supportive environment for talking through feelings. This is topped off by a bit of fun, with a game of -snap' or a puzzle and a book before bed.
Question: Can you talk about your goals for the next 12 months (business and personal)?
Laura Qureshi: Business-wise, it's all about growth. We are looking to recruit two additional staff members, and will be reinvesting our growth into building additional skills in our team. I really value our fantastic client relationships, so we aim to continue to work with great clients and become the go-to agency in Australia for ecommerce requirements.
Personally, I would like to keep contributing to my daughters's growth and supporting them as they flourish into intelligent, caring humans. It's such a rewarding journey to be part of.
And last but not least, a simple goal to be happy and healthy"the fact this is a cliche doesn't change its importance!
Interview by Brooke Hunter