Reflecting on 18 Months with Palms Australia

Reflecting on 18 Months with Palms Australia

by Rachel Donovan

With Roger currently wrapping up our first ever Encounter tour to Myanmar and Thailand and scoping new placements in Cambodia (stay tuned!), I have taken it upon myself, as self-appointed Acting Director for the day, to write this month’s report in which I have one request: take my job!

Not my job as self-appointed Acting Director for the day. I think I can make it to 5pm in one piece. Rather, this December I am bidding farewell to Palms and we (yes, everyone at Palms and I are still a ‘we’) are in the market for a new team member. I would like to share with you some reflections on my eighteen months with Palms and why, in all my years of sales and marketing, this job is the best thing I’ve given away.

I cannot recall, since May 2018, a bad day in the office. All credit for this has to go the team here in Petersham. From day one Palms has been welcoming and patient. I know others who have joined in the past 12 months would agree. Roger has cultivated a work environment that is accepting and flexible of all people. I don’t believe any workplace better lives its vision of reaching beyond barriers at home as well as abroad.

Overseas, Palms practices the most sustainable aid program in Australia. There have been many occasions when we have been asked by those looking to volunteer if we could find a place for them for a few weeks. Christine is steadfast in advocating on behalf our community partners that our placements are the precise length of time that has been requested. The results are evident in the stories we hear from the field and in the continued demand for assistance we see every day.

Those stories from the field are of strong relationships forged through genuine connection. It is always fascinating to meet the volunteers who have given their time and skills to communities with whom they have no prior affiliation. The motivations and challenges differ greatly but all are equally dedicated and encourage us to find more like them.

Though the process for recruiting an Australian for a placement can be long, it is equally rewarding. I am confident that every piece of energy I have given to this role has been in service of real benefits to others. Except that GIF of Roger as a scarecrow I shared to Facebook on Halloween. That was exclusively in service of my wanting to make GIFs.

I hope that whoever we welcome on board in the next month, and well into the future, never loses sight of who we work for. We don’t work for the funding bodies or the grant makers. We don’t even work for our volunteers. We work for those individuals in the most remote areas of our region who have seen something that needs to change and have done something about it.