Changemakers - Prue Ingram
13 May 2013 at 11:34 am
Prue Ingram is CEO of Interplast, a Not for Profit organisation working to improve the quality of life for people who are disabled as a result of congenital or acquired medical conditions such as cleft lips and palates.
This week we profile Prue in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
Interplast work by sending fully qualified volunteer Australian and New Zealand plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals to the Asia Pacific region to provide free surgical treatment for patients who would otherwise not be able to afford access to such services.
Interplast are currently celebrating their 30th anniversary.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
Interplast Australia & New Zealand (Interplast) sends volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgical teams to developing countries in the Asia Pacific region to provide free treatment and training.
This year is Interplast's 30th anniversary – an amazing accomplishment for any organisation! We're currently working to raise the profile of the organisation to attract more supporters to our cause and raise much needed funds to be able to respond to the surgical and capacity building requests from our local partners across the Asia Pacific.
So hopefully, this year you'll see much more information about the great work done by our volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health professionals. We are also developing a formal volunteer recognition process for the first time – some of our volunteers have been with Interplast since 1983 and are very much unsung heroes. Oh and also developing our new strategic plan, preparing for our AusAID accreditation review, the list goes on!
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
I suppose I was always going to work in the health or community services sector in some way, given my initial training as a speech pathologist (not that I've been practised for many years). After 12 years in the public service, I thought the knowledge I had gained would be very useful in the Not for Profit sector. I love the fact that I have always managed to work closely with the people for whom the services are targeted and that you can apply creativity and innovation in developing services and support systems that can really make a difference.
What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
I love working with the volunteers and also having the absolute privilege of seeing them at work in circumstances that are very different to their everyday working conditions in Australia and New Zealand. Seeing them working together as a team and seeing the relationships they develop over the years with the local medical professionals is amazing. The results of the surgery they provide really are life-changing – the smiles on the faces of the parents of a cleft lip patient or the function they enable after the release of severely contracted hands as a result of burns are so affirming of the amazing work that is done.
Favourite saying …
If you don't ask, you don't get.
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman. I am really enjoying the way that the characters and plot lines of what seem to be totally separate lives, intertwine throughout the novel. And I love the focus on storytelling with a totally different perspective of the Holocaust.
My greatest challenge is ….
In a work context, it is the juggling of multiple tasks that are the responsibility of a small Not for Profit organisation, while at the same time as making sure there is enough funding available to be able to ensure that we can deliver the many surgical and capacity building activities that our local partners in the Asia Pacific are requesting Interplast to provide. In a personal context, it is trying to establish some semblance of a regular exercise routine!
What (or who) inspires you?
I'm inspired by the patients and families who arrive on clinic days hoping they will be able to receive the surgery that in Australia we would expect to be commonplace. The patience, stoicism and gratitude they exhibit is both inspiring and humbling. It certainly changes your outlook on life.