Changemakers – Joel Pringle
Monday, 22nd April 2013 at 11:08 am
Joel Pringle is the campaign manager for Australians for Affordable Housing. This week we profile Joel in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
Australians for Affordable Housing is a coalition of national housing, welfare and community sector organisations, established to highlight the problem of housing affordability in Australia.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
Australians for Affordable Housing is making sure that housing a priority issue in the upcoming Federal election. The major parties have acknowledged the problems, but we need commitments over the coming years, especially as much of the funding for affordable housing has either ended or soon will.
This means raising awareness of the housing crisis in the media, and helping campaign supporters get actively involved in the campaign itself. It’s a challenge, but its great have helped people all over Australia connect with opinion makers. Especially people who are struggling with housing costs and might not otherwise have the chance to enter the public conversation.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
My first job out of university was as a youth worker, I’d studied as a music teacher but came to realise that teaching and I didn’t quite fit together. Youth work was another way to work with teenagers in a creative way, and gave me a chance to incorporate music into the programs. I’ve been either in the community sector, or working closely with community organisations, since. I couldn’t imagine doing a job that wasn’t about social change, either on a community or policy level, and I think the Not for Profit sector is the best place to do so.
The community sector, when embracing community governance, gives people the opportunity to get involved in the decision making and service delivery that affects their lives.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
I’ve been in community services or policy jobs for about 7 years, with about half of that in the Not for Profit sector. The other time was spent employed by local government and a University, working closely with Not for Profits.
I’ve also been involved in the boards of a few great community organisations, including a few years as chair of The Settlement in Darlington, Sydney. In an organisation with a history like the Settlement’s you get a feel for how communities can create local solutions, and the pride that can give to people.
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
My first community sector job was with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, working on consumer and essential services policy. We faced a lot of challenges that would be familiar to many not-for-profits: limited resources, reliance on program funding from government, a struggle to get attention compared to larger for-profit organisations in the private sector.
But it was also a chance to work with an amazing bunch of people, many of whom had left behind better paid corporate jobs to work on law reform for the most vulnerable in our community. It was quite a unique organisation.
What is the best thing about working in the Not for Profit sector?
My experience in Not for Profits has been community and welfare organisations. Their core interest is social change for a fairer society, with less competing priorities than you might get in for-profits or the public sector.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
The strength of Australians for Affordable Housing is that it combines great partnerships in the community sector with a public campaign engaging the broader community. It gives a chance to reach out get people involved in the campaign, but also with a great research and policy base.
I consider my greatest achievement to be…
The Settlement is a community organisation with a great history for many families in the Redfern area, but unfortunately the facilities were wearing much of that history. Children’s programs were being run out of a dilapidated hall. To have the chance to work with the board, staff and community to raise funds and see through the redevelopment of that hall is something that I’ll always be proud of.
When finished, I saw the community’s great sense of pride in the new hall, a remembering of the place the Settlement had for many people in their own childhood, and a sense that the project committed the organisation to a proud future to match its history.
I’m always being asked…
Isn’t housing affordability too complicated to solve? It is complex, but the problems are of our own making. It’s important that the solutions reflect the best interests of the community, not vested interests.
What are you reading/ watching/ listening to at the moment?
I’m currently reading ‘The City’ by Joel Kotkin. I’m overjoyed by the season returns of both Game of Thrones and Mad Men, and whatever I’m listening to at the time, Nina Simone will always be on the playlist.
School taught me…
Rules should be broken often, but always with purpose.
What (or who) inspires you?
I’m inspired by the single parents who have so many pressures in their life, but are passionate about organising people against the Government’s recent income cuts. Or the public housing tenants who has been at their housing authority to repair their broken ceiling for years, but spend their spare time involved in the local tenant group to help others in their community.
These are stalwarts who know how to take a kick in the guts, but keep their resolve. They might not have the access and influence that others do, but they can teach us a hell of a lot about resilience and love for their neighbours.
Is there someone in your organisation who would make a great Changemaker? Let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org