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‘Context is King’ a Favourite for NFP Leader


Monday, 13th October 2014 at 10:11 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist
Bates was Deputy CEO of Volunteering Australia, between 2003 and 2007 and was recently elected World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE). Bates is this week's Changemaker.

Monday, 13th October 2014
at 10:11 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist


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‘Context is King’ a Favourite for NFP Leader
Monday, 13th October 2014 at 10:11 am

Prior to joining Mission Australia in 2008 Kylee Bates worked for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on Indigenous policy, and held various policy and program roles with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,

Bates was Deputy CEO of Volunteering Australia, between 2003 and 2007 and was recently elected World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).

Bates is this week's Changemaker.

What are you currently working on in your organisation?

Right now I have two rather busy jobs – one paid and the other unpaid.

My ‘day’ job as State Director, Mission Australia for Victoria and South Australia has a focus on delivering a range of services across employment, community, early learning and social enterprise to disadvantaged Australians.

By night, I moonlight as the recently elected volunteer World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) which is a global membership organisation committed to promoting, strengthening and celebrating volunteering worldwide. I say ‘by night’ because due to time zone differences much of my work in calls and emails happens after dinner.

With our Australian partner, Volunteering Australia, we just hosted a very successful 23rd World Volunteer Conference on the Gold Coast, so with that now behind me I am focused on IAVE’s current advocacy agenda of gaining recognition for the role of volunteers in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals that it is hoped the UN will sign up to in 2015. To support our global call to action you can sign up here.

How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?

I’ve just passed a cumulative of 12 years’ experience in the Not for Profit sector – interspersed with some time back in the Commonwealth Government.

What was your first job in the Not for Profit Sector?

My first paid role in the Not for Profit Sector was with Volunteering Australia when I was seconded to work there, from Government, for the International Year of Volunteers in 2001. To misquote a famous TV commercial ‘I liked it so much, I never went back’.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

I love the mix of things I get to do through the two roles I have: visit and engage with the frontline services of Mission Australia and the amazing work our passionate staff do in local communities that helps move people to independence; draw on our service delivery experience to inform Mission Australia’s policy and advocacy work; working on innovative projects such as the two social enterprises (Charcoal Lane and Synergy Repairs) we operate in Victoria and connecting globally with leaders in volunteering around the world to influence how volunteering is viewed and supported by organisations, Governments and business. I am very lucky.

I consider my greatest achievement to be…

Actually, it would probably be learning to walk – several times. Having been born with brittle bones and doctors suggesting to my parents at the time that I ‘may never walk’ it was only after breaking my femur 5 times and having to learn to walk yet again after weeks of traction that I realised that most of the time it was something I took for granted… and should not.

Favourite saying…

I suspect I say “context is king” far too often. However I’ve learned that so much of what people think and say is determined by the information that is before them and the context they are operating in.

If each of us wish to better understand what drives others, as well as make more considered and informed decisions, we need to think about, understand and appreciate the wider context in which we and others operate. In essence, it’s about the message that Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird tried to teach us ‘seek first to understand’

What are you watching/reading at the moment? Why?

I am a binge-watcher of television series but have many to catch-up on. . I am an avid fan of crime fiction and drama so I’m always impressed when there are new takes on old ideas, so True Detectives and The Killing have priority viewing at the moment.

I’m reading Hilary Clinton’s most recent autobiography. Why? I think she’s a fascinating person and has managed a lot of very complex relationships – both domestically and internationally.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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