Minutes of the Sydney Youth Team Meeting

Minutes of the Sydney Youth Team Meeting

Feedback from Sydney Young Adult Team members on the
“Which Way Forward?”

discussion paper for young members of the St Vincent de Paul Society
dated May 2002.

PresentWill McPhie, President - Sydney Young Adults, Hiro Endo, President - Eastern Suburbs, Roy Sayah President - Western Suburbs, Michelle Martin – Vice President and Marina Phillips, Rozelle, Paul Falzon and Glen D’Souza representative members from Kingsgrove, and Macquarie Region Young Adults respectively and Debra McDonnell, Youth Co-ordinator met on the 3rd August 2002 to discuss issues in the Which Way Forward discussion paper.

PreambleIt was highlighted that we had a very diverse group present with discussion starting on how long members had been involved and how they first started with Vinnies. Some had initially started assisting Vinnies at School and kept on doing Vinnies work after they left school (up to five year or more), others found Vinnies from doing Community Service with their course of study (two years or more) and yet others found us from doing Night Patrol (varied amount of time) or from recruitment at local Parish (recent).

The meeting showed a passion and commitment to the Society by the representatives that attended. We had a mixture of a few people who were relatively new to their leadership role, and several young adults who have been active for five years or more in the Society.

It was noted that the Society is mainly made up of volunteers who are aged white males, however the Sydney Young Adults represented many different nationalities, with relatively equal participation of females and males. It was also noted that people who were older (forty plus) could work well with the young adult conference, however it seemed harder / more boring for young people to work in with the older conference.

Young Vinnies should be seen as an asset to the Society. No other charity organization has such an asset. Great things are being achieved, and will continue to be achieved. They should be treated as valuable members of the society. While there might be resentment that they do not participate in all Senior Vinnies activities, they are proactive individuals that can lead activities on their own and will be ready to step up and take over leading the Society in general when the time comes.

Overall, there seems to be a great deal of optimism within the representatives present, particularly in regards to Young Vinnies. In many ways, we of the Sydney Archdiocese have been blessed with the freedom and support of the Society in general, and plan to grow the society in number and in deed in the best way that we can.

Differentiating between empowering and helping?

Empowering is about “teaching them to fish,

Helping is “giving them fish”.

Examples of

EmpowermentDoes not seem to be enough empowerment with many programs aimed at giving help. We identified training offered to the homeless, budget counselling, counselling, drug rehabilitation courses as examples of empowering.

Vinnies VolunteersThe Vinnies volunteers felt that they need to be empowered through appropriate orientation and training. Vinnies does change the way people see the world, mainly members, can we bring this to the clients?

School studentsA lot of lost young people who need opportunities to develop a social conscience.

How can we assist the poor out of poverty?

The people we serve need to be more empowered to break out of their situation, their isolation, be allowed to feel like they can contribute to help themselves and others, need to develop community of care. Lengthy talk about home visitations and how giving out the voucher has a lot of scamming, some do NOT really need them.

We need to show more care, listen to these people, ask them what they would like to do to solve their own problems and root causes. We can make a whole lot of difference to the life of that one person. We need to bring them in to talk about how we can better serve them.

Nine step processThe nine step process provides a series of well constructed steps which aim to achieve more than just a hand out. We agreed that more needs to be done for and with our clients to achieve more long term solutions. However we also need to have a greater representation to do the current activities before we have enough people to work separately on individual issues.

We decided that the nine step process would be useful for the Sydney Youth Team to use for the development of new activities, especially those that we are passionate about?

We thought that we could make more use of our Young Adult volunteers by assigning Committees in the Sydney Region with responsibility for tackling specific tasks. We identified some needs within the Sydney Region included better induction process, increased training, better meeting facilities, better signage to make finding us easier (including signage in our Centres), banners or t-shirts for the youth to use, more information distributed about when, where and who are meeting with info on the website about us.

Some frustration was felt with the amount of information available for new conferences and for running activities. This is something that we can address (can be addressed at both State and Dio levels). A particular area of need for organization is schools. Some representatives are working with schools, but feel foolish when school teachers ask about certain concerns or what can be done, and representatives feel that they don’t have the information available to answer some of these questions. It was suggested that a knowledge base be established to make these issues easier to address. This may include use of web technology to store and make available various documents.

We identified that we need to give more recognition to our volunteers (certificates, reference letters and individual recognition for two, three, four and five years of continuous service). We need to implement programs that better find out what people need. We also need to develop a greater sense of belonging to Vinnies and teamwork.

Topics that we felt Vinnies could speak publicly on included the releasing youth from Detention Centres, Youth Suicide and Prevention, Mental Illness, Homelessness and People Smuggling in Australia.

Structure of the Society

Will McPhie drew the existing structure of Conferences, Region, Diocese, State, National and International, with each structure supporting the previous one. We thought the organisation could benefit from having a structural review due to replication of some central functions, although acknowledged that structural change would be slow and painful. We needed more information and felt we had little control or ability to make an effective decision on the structure.

It was agreed that employees need to be respected as valued members of the Society. Employees should be listened to as equals, however once a decision is made by the council/president/conference, then the instructions given to the employee should be followed.

ConclusionThese are the major points covered at our discussions held in August. They are not inclusive of all issues, many others could have been raised.

The questions raised in the document, raised more questions that could not be answered in the time allowed. However the discussion was both stimulating and did give attention to improvements that we at the Sydney Young Adults Team could address for the benefit of new recruits and existing volunteers to the Society.

Finally, there is a great deal of optimism within the representatives present, particularly in regards to the future of Young Vinnies and we plan to grow the Society in number and adapt to the changing needs in deed in the best way that we can.