LUNCHEON - 22ND OCTOBER 2014
Speaker: Tony Nicholson, CEO, Brotherhood of St Laurence
Topic: "The community welfare sector is facing challenges which, if not addressed, could see its demise."
Chairman: Barry Murphy
Tony Nicholson, BA, BSW, has dedicated over 30 years to improving conditions of those living on or close to the edges of society.
A feature of his work has been his ability to collaborate with colleague social justice organisations, governments and businesses to achieve reform in public policy and service delivery to the benefit of disadvantaged Australians.
Tony is currently Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne.
He brings to the task of leadership at the Brotherhood a strong record of service development and innovation, research and policy analysis and compelling advocacy on behalf of those disadvantaged in our community.
Synopsis Of The Lunch:
Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of one of our major partners, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, gave an incisive address on the challenges now facing the community welfare sector given changes in government policies, and demographic trends especially around Melbourne. Tony started by pointing out that government, and businesses, and welfare organizations all agree that the unemployed represent human capital that is under-utilised in a period of economic growth - and it seems that there is little action in government to correct this pressing transition to work dilemma.
Tony went on to express concerns with the effects of urban sprawl around Melbourne on the disadvantaged in our society, noting that in the next 15 years, a population equal to that of Adelaide (a million people) will be located in Melbourne's north west - something needs to be done in terms of infrastructure and employment opportunities if disasters are to be avoided. And finally Tony explained how government policies discriminate against small welfare agencies leading to a major loss of volunteers and creating unproductive competition between the larger agencies. The point was made that these new policies are leading to welfare agencies being seen as extensions of government rather than extensions of the community.
The picture painted by Tony provides a lot for Rotary clubs to contemplate as they plan future strategies for community engagement. A thin, white haired man with a slight speech impediment is no doubt watching from his well-earned place in Heaven and shaking his wise old head in disbelief at the growth of government bureaucracy that is now directing the future of service delivery in the burgeoning welfare sector. Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker, one of four founders of the BSL, is no doubt haranguing his heavenly neighbours and those who possibly went to the other place to make divine contact with their earthly minions encouraging them to stand up to the elected governments and policy wonks of this country to understand the needs of the starving, poor and disadvantaged.
The Brotherhood is an outstanding organisation born of love of man, developed for the needs of man and currently needing as much nourishment as can be given to continue supporting the countless demands being asked of it by a deserving and needy community. Thank you Father Tucker and your fellow Brothers, and a special thanks to Tony Nicholson for continuing to lead by example and advocate for those voiceless but hungry souls.