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Karen's thoughts on the Social Economy

From Philanthropy To Politics

Thursday, 21st June 2012

This past week has seen an extraordinary array of events and announcements coming out of, and relevant to, the Not for Profit sector.

One of the most exciting was a roundtable hosted at the Myer Family Offices and initiated by Leslie Falkiner-Rose to discuss the process of getting Philanthropy onto the school curriculum as part of the Civics and Citizenship unit. It reminded me a bit of the old joke – you put two people in a room together and get three opinions. And the variety of opinions around the table encompassed many opinions – the philosophical ‘why be generous’ type questions, to how to approach the shaping paper and metadata considerations.

Can you teach generosity? Does Altruism exist? And can it be taught? Does it sit under Ethics? Is generosity a genetic trait? What are the health benefits of generosity and altruism and giving? These are questions that I am finding fascinating and I’d recommend the paper Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to Be Good by Stephen G. Post – to people interested in this area. If you know of other papers like this I’d love to hear about them.

Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac had generosity as the third of her four key points of leadership when she spoke in her Vincent Fairfax Oration for the graduating class of 2012 in Melbourne last night. Her fourth point was resilience. With four children, six dogs and her role at Westpac – she certainly is an exemplar of resilience – and more – she exemplifies the flourishing that happens when one really loves what they do. And that was her response to a question asked about the next gen – let them follow their passion… As a footnote she also said that women in senior positions tend to be more highly educated than their male counterparts. An interesting fact that needs more explanation.

The announcements this week by the Coalition of their intentions re the Not for Profit sector were listened to with nervous interest. Of course, it fitted within the philosophical framework of the Party – and Kevin Andrews MP quoted Pericles, Lincoln, de Tocqueville, Aristotle, Adam Smith in a discussion about Democracy. He supported the fact that we had 600,000 community organisations contributing to the fabric of civil society and both he and Tony Abbott in his policy announcement hosted by the Pratt Foundation on the 8th June said that their intention was to give more power to the groups on the ground rather to manage community from a Governmental level.

How that plays out in terms of real place-based and micro support for the sector, we’ll have to wait and see.

Also some images of Pro Bono Australia’s new home in Chapel St, Melbourne. Verrry cool. Looking at Graffiting the walls.:)) ….. heres a pic.  

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Karen Mahlab AM
Karen Mahlab AM is the Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia. In 2015 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Not for Profit sector and philanthropic initiatives.
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