11. Erin

Once upon a time, Erin and I were both Ox-fammers. Working in different state offices, she was someone I knew of, but never had the pleasure of meeting, until another Ex-fammer, Alan connected us because our passion projects were so aligned. Learning about Erin’s podcast and the people she is profiling reinforced all of the very best things about writing this blog —  meeting those I wouldn’t get the chance to otherwise, hearing about the many creative and world-changing things so many humans are doing and walking away with warm fuzzies!

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“Mel, my co-host came up with the idea. She knew I listened to a lot of podcasts and my career had been in the not-for-profit sector, so she approached me and said “I want to do a podcast about people who do good stuff.”

That was the start of The Human Factor,  our monthly podcast that explores social change by talking to not-for-profit leaders and social change advocates. 

Our most recent guest always becomes my new favourite. Recently we chatted to Chris Raine who was awesome because his work is so relevant.  He’s from Hello Sunday Morning, a movement towards a better drinking culture in Australia. He talked a lot about how government campaigns are too far removed from the issues young people face with drinking. Thankfully, it’s not often they’re confronted with assault or violence. But they do need to learn how they can avoid being forced to do shots, or how they can order a water at a bar without being called lame.

In the charity world, we’re often looking for the extreme but Hello Sunday Morning reminds us that it’s not extreme cases that are the majority of the problem.

Another guest, Adam Miller Founder of Planet Indonesia, is helping rural communities in West Kalimantan achieve sustainable development through nature conservation. In West Kalimantan, whoever controls the money controls whether or not loggers can access the land. In order to stop deforestation, Adam is working with indigenous women’s groups, funding micro-finance projects and working on the bush meat trade (I didn’t even know that was a thing!) I found this so interesting. In order to stop deforestation, I had assumed you would have to rally loggers, but instead, Adam is working with indigenous women. I guess  the lesson is that there’s often much more to an issue than meets the eye.

Mel and I are pushing ourselves to ask the difficult questions in our interviews — particularly questions about where the money is going. One of our other guests was Roz Campbell from Tsuno, an organisation that sells sustainable sanitary products and donates some of its profits to projects that empower women living in poverty. When asked, Roz was really upfront with us and acknowledged that in the first year, she couldn’t donate much because she had to put a lot of money into her business. But, because of that, she’s now able to donate more.

Like Roz, a lot of our guests are in the social enterprise space, rather than traditional charity. The sector seems to be moving more and more toward this business with purpose model and I think the trend is pretty awesome. Not only can it set an organisation up to be sustainable, but it can allow people to do good in their daily lives by giving them positive purchasing choices.

I would love to know that we’re helping people with these choices. If listeners have decided to buy Tsuno products after hearing Roz on our podcast, that’s the kind of impact we want to have.

Mel, my co-host, grew up thinking that doing good stuff was just part of life. She was inspired by her parents who were always big volunteers. Mum helped out at my school’s tuck shop and Dad helped run tug-of-war camps with the army, but other than that, volunteering was never a big part of my upbringing. My interest in the community sector came much later.

It makes me sound like an old, crusty person, but back in my day, if you wanted to know about volunteer opportunities or community organisations, it needed to be in a newspaper. Now, there’s so much on social media. You can click on a hashtag and go down a rabbit warren of learning. Young people are confronted with choices and opportunities earlier. I have no evidence to back this up, but it seems more and more people care about, or are involved in the sector.

For me, it happened at university. I studied a Bachelor of Creative Studies and in my final year we did a workplace subject. We could choose between workplace education or service learning within a charity environment. It was a no- brainer for me. I wondered why anyone would choose the former, but later discovered I was the only person in my entire class to do service learning.

My Aunt had breast cancer at the time so I got an internship at the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I worked on two events and ran a volunteer campaign and some uni friends had done nothing other than data entry in their internships. I was so stoked with my decision, I decided to apply for a few entry level not-for-profit roles and got my first job at a disability charity. From there, I moved to Oxfam, then to the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation and most recently, the Police Citizens Youth Club.

As I’ve worked at different places I’ve learnt more and become passionate about different issues. It wasn’t until working at Oxfam that I started really caring about gender equality and now it’s  something that my friends know me for.

I hope through The Human Factor we are offering something new — discussion points or even a different point of view. I know a lot of social entrepreneurs or people in charity can feel a bit disheartened and even lonely at times. We want to offer them a community of people to chat to about these things and hopefully in an entertaining, yet thought-provoking medium.

I also get a lot out of it personally. There are the warm fuzzies that come with these sorts of conversations. There are the networks I’m building and the lessons I’m learning. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t thought about.

I walk away from each interview inspired by how incredible our guests are.

What’s next? We’d love to interview the guys behind Thankyou. They’re the “oh gee” of social enterprise, so that’s our pipe dream. We would also love more people to listen. But, at the end of the day, we really just want to keep highlighting what good is going on in the world by sharing awesome stories.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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