Being a part of this team has broadened my understanding of the wonderful work of Palms and the special people who volunteer. I’m learning more about Thai education, culture, spirituality, geography, and climate as well as the challenges and joys of taking on this experience of a lifetime. There are times when I think I am there as I read the news emails and flick through amazing photographs of cultural events and beautiful people.Sr Maura, a member of Frances Hayes CST – 2023
What is Community Connections?
Community Connections is an initiative that seeks to achieve the first aim of Palms’ Mission which is to:
“Advance the awareness, enthusiasm and involvement of Australian and international communities in shared action to achieve just, sustainable, and peaceful development.”
Why is it important?
The news of our world that reaches us through mainstream media is mostly sensationalised. It’s designed to attract attention and so sell advertisers’ product. Palms Australia’s program participants live in overseas communities to provide sustainable assistance in culturally respectful ways. Being more informed about the issues affecting our neighbours they provide reliable links.
Ongoing communication with Palms participants not only enables an Australian community to appreciate the value of investing in skill exchange but also allows them to build authentic intercultural relationships in countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The connection also provides moral and practical support to a Palms program participant who volunteers to engage in mutual mentoring with locals for up to three years.
How do we achieve change via Community Connections?
It starts with a Community Support Team (CST). A CST is a team of friends, family or community members invited by a Palms participant to support their overseas placement. Working with the Palms team the CST will connect with and inspire communities who know the participant to assist with personal/prayer, professional, advocacy and fundraising support.
A successful CST will advance the awareness, enthusiasm and involvement of Australian communities and assist successful placement outcomes by generating:
- Personal support and prayer, especially during program participant transition;
- Fund raising to support preparation, sending and local community hosting costs;
- Professional advice and research to assist assignment outcomes;
- Advocacy support requested by a host community to assist structural barriers to development.
What is the process of becoming a CST?
- When a Palms participant’s placement is confirmed (s)he nominates people to join the support team.
- Those nominated will be invited to join a Community Connections webinar to meet our team and learn more about what it is to be part of a CST. There will be ample opportunity to discuss the material covered.
- After attending the webinar and accepting the invitation the Community Engagement Officer will follow up with you to provide ongoing guidance starting with support for your participant during preparation and at critical points across the time of their assignment.