Have I only done half my job?

Have I only done half my job?

By Roger O’Halloran

Another financial year has been completed and we are busily preparing material for our auditor.  Our Annual Report to be published in September will focus on how accurate we might have been with our budget, and as importantly, provide statistics and narratives to reveal outputs and outcomes concerned with what was achieved in assignments abroad.

You will see that we are hitting targets for the recruitment, preparation and support of Australians who volunteer to “Participate in an exchange of knowledge and skills to meet the requests of communities seeking to reduce poverty …” That’s the second aim of the Palms Australia Mission. What you won’t see are substantial outcomes relating to the achievement of the first aim.  After nearly 20 years as Executive Director I am still searching for successful strategies.

For two years at the beginning of my tenure we took the opportunity to review and crystallise the aims and programs of the then Paulian Association (1956 – 2002). They were articulated in Vision, Mission and Values statements under the new name of Palms Australia.  Fully realising the Vision relies on us achieving both aims of the Mission. See both here.

The member-based, democratic constitution adopted at a General Meeting on February 12, 2002 was seen as an important step to inspiring “… the awareness, enthusiasm and involvement of Australians and international communities in shared action to achieve just, sustainable, and peaceful development.” The Fair Trade Café, Encounters and Palms Together Days are among the many strategies attempted since to achieve this part of our mission.  All have been hard work and met with mixed enthusiasm and success.

Increased staff capacity in recent times is allowing us to provide more tools to people who want to get involved.  One of the important realisations we have had is that building awareness in Australian communities is not best coordinated by those busy preparing to depart for assignment.  So, the July Orientation Course group were asked to get permission for Palms to connect with three members of their communities identified for their networking, organisational capacity, inspiring leadership and willingness to assist us to achieve the mission in the broader community.

While this half of Palms work has provided few outcomes on which to report in the past, what we have titled ‘Team Support’, is already seeing connections being made.  With increased staff capacity also to follow them up I am more confident than ever about the other half of the job I was mandated to do when I started as Palms Director.  It may take until the completion of my 20 years, plus some, before solid fundraising and advocacy outcomes can be reported, but early signs are positive.

Thanks to Rachel for helping me to prepare and publish the tools and getting them on-line. Thanks to the participants at the July course for teasing this out with us and to Cassandra, who after a couple of months getting to know Palms and our mission, will be the link on staff tasked with following up.  She will bring other staff to assist the communities’ team supporters as they request.

We look forward to working with Australians at home to provide another level of support for this mission, which will also reinforce Palms work with the communities requesting assistance abroad.