Working to make a difference

Monday 1 December, 2014

Riverland homelessness team setting up an event in Berri for Homeless Persons Week 2013. is a rural charity that continues to expand after its inception in 1986. With two hundred staff & numerous volunteers across fifteen locations spanning South Australia, they are currently delivering over 70 programs to their clients! Head office is based in Mount Gambier, SA, one of the few charities in Australia with a head office in a country regional town.


What are the aims and objectives of


Our aim is to enhance the wellbeing of rural people through positive social change. Our objectives are:


  • Alleviating homelessness
  • Building communities
  • Promoting learning
  • Reducing poverty
  • Sharing cultures
  • Strengthening families
  • Supporting children
  • Working towards sustainability


What kind of attributes do you look for in applicants that are looking to work in sensitive areas such as


We have such diverse roles including social workers, accountants, youth workers, administration staff, therapeutic care workers, IT, housing officers etc but the attributes of all applicants must be cognizant with our values of:


  •       Compassion
  •       Adaptability
  •       Relationships
  •       Excellence


And an applicant must be committed to social justice, be non-judgmental and non-discriminatory with a desire to make a difference within their communities.  It is also important that they can keep confidences.


We are a charity that is very much about early intervention and prevention as opposed to crisis and handing out.   We work alongside people and empower them, as they are experts in their own lives and our work is about giving them the tools they need to enhance their wellbeing and give them opportunities to achieve their goals.   This means we will not be encouraging people who want to play the role of ‘rescuer’ to work with us.



 Big W in Mount Gambier showing their support to!


Do you have any advice for job seekers who wish to work in charity organisations?


Specific skills and certificates will depend on the role. General skills we expect all employees:


  •       To be able to work with their colleagues, ie, be a team player but to see themselves as a leader when this is required 
  •       An ability to learn
  •       Cope with change
  •       Negotiating skills
  •       Collaborating skills
  •       Communication skills
  •       Basic IT software skills, i.e., be able to work essential Microsoft office products such as Outlook for email and calendars, Word and basic Excel.


In your opinion, what are the benefits of volunteer work (for the worker)?


Volunteering makes a vital contribution to our nation.  It meets needs within the community and helps to develop and reinforce social networks while developing skills for the volunteer.  Volunteering is often a pathway into paid work, giving the volunteer an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and work ethic. It also provides work for people who have retired from the paid workforce but who have capacity to ‘give back’ and wish to remain in a working environment but with the flexibility of volunteering.


What are the advantages of working in rural communities as opposed to larger cities?


We have many employees who have made the move from cities to live in a rural community, from very experienced professionally accredited social workers, to marketing to finance staff.


The advantages they cite include:


  •       Smaller businesses/organisations so relationships are easier to develop
  •       Being recognised in the organisation, not a cog in a very large wheel.
  •       No peak hour travel.
  •       Not corporate.
  •       An ability to be heard and be involved in decision making.
  •       The opportunities to collaborate with others to make a difference.
  •       The ease of networking, as there are many ways to meet people and feel included.
  •       There is a sense of community and they are not as stratified as is in the city, once can have relationships with many different people, regardless of profession or education.


 Do you think flexibility is important in a workplace?


The flexibility of our workforce helps our organisation by the important role it plays in staff recruitment and retention.  We have staff who have chosen to work for above other higher paying roles in other organisations due to our flexibility.  The work we do requires flexibility in thought to look at solutions for complex issues. If we want to have a culture of flexibly to enable us to create solutions for our clients we need to ‘live it’ with our staff.


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