Changemakers - Nancy Jeffrey
22 October 2012 at 9:20 am
Nancy Jeffrey, Northern Territory State Manager for Save the Children, is profiled in Changemakers – a regular column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
Save the Children is an emergency relief and development organisation for children with the aim to save and protect children's lives and to give every child a safe and happy childhood. Globally, Save the Children has touched the lives of over 100 million children in 2011 in more than 126 countries. In Australia, the organisation works in every state and territory with programs in more than 90 locations.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
In the Northern Territory, I manage a number of vital programs for vulnerable children including:
Intense Supported Play Scheme – an early intervention program that works with families to assist with children’s development stages and refer to other services where required.
School Attendance Program – an award-winning program developed by myself and my program manager in consultation with schools and the community to encourage children’s attendance at school.
Intense Family Support Services – The Territory Government provide Save the Children with referrals to assist high risk children who are on child protection income management.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
The political, social and economic reality facing the Indigenous communities in the NT is a well-known and very complex one. Personally as an Aboriginal woman I struggle agreeing with many of the government policies that have been developed in an effort to respond to these issues. It is my belief that the best people to deal with the myriad of issues facing the community is the community itself, and that is what attracted me to the Not for Profit sector. Our community members need to be empowered to create solutions to their problems, both now and in the future.
The vision that I helped create for Save the Children’s NT office is to see Indigenous members of our community trained and employed by Save the Children – helping our children and our community, but also promoting the Aboriginal community in a positive light and sharing our culture and values with the broader community. In the process, these employees are helping our children gain the skills they need to be able to have the same employment opportunities and ability to cope with future challenges.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
Woman’s Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) counsellor Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs.
What is the best thing about working in the Not for Profit sector?
The sense of giving and not taking from others.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
Save the Children holds the values that I have always believed in. For many Aboriginal people, including myself, we are community members and workers. Our work does not cease at the end of a day – we are responsible for our families and communities and continue to play key leadership roles beyond our paid work. From my experience, valuing and maintaining a strong local context and a strong Aboriginal voice is crucial to successful outcomes. This means ensuring our structures are right to nurture our people, that the strengths of our team is recognised and that we operate structures that are within an Aboriginal world view – operating as a community, each with specific roles and responsibilities, yet with no one leader. Everyone assumes leadership within their role and is enabled to do so. I have learnt from my elders and the wisdom of my people over time that great leaders lead from behind, building the strengths of their team to ensure that it is not dependent on them for survival and existence. These learnings have helped me create a strong team and trusted profile for Save the Children in the NT.
I consider my greatest achievement to be…
My proudest achievement has been to build the entire NT operation for Save the Children, growing it from a team of three to one that now employs 24 people and works across five communities in the Territory. I’m very proud to say that 98% of my staff are Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander. One of the great challenges has been to ensure that my team members’ cultural needs and obligations are equally respected and upheld. My goal in life is to mentor and encourage my people to stand strong and achieve whatever they set their sights on.
I have also just been announced as a NT finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Award and I will use the nomination to encourage my people that they are capable of doing anything they set their heart on as long as we continue to learn every day from our mistakes and build on our strengths.
Never expect others to do, what you wouldn’t do yourself.
If you could have dinner with 2 people from history, who would they be?
Eglantyne Jebb (Founder of Save the Children) and Vincent Lingari (Wave Hill walk off).
What (or who) inspires you?
My family. My two daughters and grandchildren are my inspiration.