Changemakers – Sophie Rowe
Monday, 25th March 2013 at 9:29 am
Sophie Rowe is the chief executive of Step Back Think. This week we profile Sophie in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
Step Back Think is a youth-run, registered charity that stands for a change in the culture surrounding perceptions of violence and particularly, the acceptance of street violence, within Australia.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
Step Back Think works to bring awareness to the issue of street violence, in order to create a path to then educate as to why such behaviour should not be condoned as part of the Australian social fabric. We focus on three key pillars of activity:
- Public awareness campaigns and community engagement
- Educational programs and services
- Policy and research
Already in 2013, the wheels have been in full motion for Step Back Think. During the first quarter, my main task has been one of internal organisation – and of bringing together our team of fantastic, young volunteers to map out the year ahead.
A number of exciting public and community awareness initiatives are currently in the works. The AFL provides an important platform for Step Back Think, so in a three-way partnership with the Hawthorn and Carlton football clubs, we’re working towards presenting an anti-violence campaign, mid-year – and mid-season! The message will be trickled down to the community through the ‘Lace Up’ engagement campaign, with thousands of young players threading our orange shoelaces into their boots, in teams across Victoria and interstate. A range of other campaigns will be announced via social media throughout the year.
Our education team is busy taking bookings for presentations in Victorian secondary schools, while, behind the scenes, working on core strategic direction, targets and workshop design. Education is paramount to our role in the prevention of street violence, so we have big plans for long-term investment in this area.
Step Back Think has been a lobbyist for change in both the Victorian and Federal spheres since 2008. Our organisation has campaigned for shifts in policy and practice relating to street violence, and youth issues more broadly, and addressed calls for consultation on government and private initiatives, including advertising campaigns and policy forums. In 2013, we are working to form a collaborative relationship with the Centre for Forensic and Behavioural Sciences, to generate new, and to support ongoing, research into the relationship between youth violence, alcohol and culture. From this, we will be working to produce and release digestible publications, to support our community awareness activities and educational services.
I’m always being asked…
“What is the cause of street violence in Australia?” While acknowledging the role that alcohol and intoxicants and other various factors play in the occurrence of street violence, the crux of the issue is culture. Violence is simply too often accepted as standard, inconsequential behaviour – an attitude that we aim to shift with Step Back Think.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
My favourite part of working with Step Back Think absolutely comes down to the people involved. I work with an incredible team of bright and motivated individuals – and the organisation has given me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with inspiring people from all sorts of sectors and backgrounds.
What does a typical day for you involve?
There isn’t really such thing as a typical day, working with Step Back Think! I could be working on a proposal or a report, strategising with one of our subcommittees, or meeting with an organisational partner to work on a campaign. Although some tasks, such as addressing media calls, can be nerve-wracking, each day comes with invaluable learning opportunities and experiences.
What are you reading/ watching/ listening to at the moment?
My recent playlist has cycled a bit of local talent – Chet Faker and Flume have featured heavily for a while now. It’s been great to see them rise in recognition over the past year. As for reading, with the university year starting up, Intellectual Property and Administrative Law textbooks will be the flavours of this month, and next, and then the two after that!