The power of a passionate team
by Lisa Cotton
A group participating in the Out There Learning program (under the Dream the Pathways umbrella), which offers individual mentoring to support young people to engage more confidently in the school system. Participants receive educational support in an environment that allows for more individual assistance.
(left to right) Chad Honberg, Jack Buckman, Alex Burton, Mitchell Reid, Jacob Maddocks, Luke Sladek, Grant Gavin and Dylan Williams receiving instruction on building a fire and hands on learning of responsibility – the fire had to be built so participants could then cook their own lunch! No fire no food. The young people were on camp at Burrendong, which aimed at making a connection between participants, building a rapport with Centacare workers and bringing two different communities together and identifying commonality.
We meet many remarkable people in our field and often the focus of attention is on the social entrepreneur or the philanthropist, but when I visited Centacare Wilcannia-Forbes, I was struck by the power of a passionate team.
One team work on a program called Dream the Pathways which supports at risk young people (the majority of whom are Indigenous) in rural and remote towns to engage in educational and vocational opportunities.
Centacare’s inspiring CEO Margaret Flynn knows the importance of employing local people who deeply understand the issues of living in remote areas and who are committed to improving the lives of those in their communities.
A highlight of the visit was hearing each team member talk about why they love their roles, how they support each other, and how privileged they feel in having the opportunity to contribute back, despite the fact that many could be earning far more money working in the city.
One of the team leads believed so much in the potential of a young man who frequently went off the rails, that he used his own money and personal time to transport him to interviews. That young man is now successfully working as an apprentice because someone believed in him.
The team truly lived by the notion that for at-risk young people, there’s no currency like trust and no catalyst like hope.
Margaret’s staff made me realise that not only does a passionate team achieve great things together, the collective chemistry means the members also receive rich rewards.
This was reinforced when a colleague and I visited Djarragun College, an Indigenous learning centre 20 minutes south of Cairns, to run a workshop with Principal Jean Illingworth. After the session, Jean’s vice principal took us on a tour of the campus.
As we walked around the beautifully lush grounds and proudly maintained facilities the welcome by Jean’s team was imbued with the same spirit of warmth and purpose.
Regardless that it was school holidays, it was evident that they were thoroughly engrossed in their work and doing whatever they could to ensure the students can look beyond becoming the Indigenous middle class of Australia.
There was this palpable sense of camaraderie. As we were shown the health centre, one of the teachers was helping out a young family when I’m sure he should have been marking papers and getting ready for the new term.
There was this definite ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude – even if the tasks were not within their job specifications.
Some of the most fulfilled people I’ve met are vital members of these type of teams. They have a sense of purpose and nobility of the human spirit that achieves great things and inspires all around them.
I think this sentiment is reflected in one of my favourite quotes in a booked titled Love Marks, ‘the small brave act of cooperating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generosity over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.’