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Changemaker  |  Social Issues

Raising the Profile of Social Service

3 April 2017 at 8:40 am
Wendy Williams
Professor David Hayward is the acting director of the Future Social Service Institute and a board member for the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS). He is this week’s Changemaker.

Wendy Williams | 3 April 2017 at 8:40 am


Raising the Profile of Social Service
3 April 2017 at 8:40 am

Professor David Hayward is the acting director of the Future Social Service Institute and a board member for the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS). He is this week’s Changemaker.

Hayward boasts a career of policy advice, education and training for the Victorian not-for-profit sector that spans three decades.

He was dean of the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT between 2009 and 2016.

And between 2007 and 2013 he was a member of the board of Melbourne Health, which is the second largest health service in Australia and incorporates the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

As an academic, his research has focused on the funding of social policy in the Australian federation, with recent publications on performance budgeting and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

He has made it a priority to merge the worlds of academia and the social sector.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the social sector he was made a life member of VCOSS. He is also a member of its governing board.

Most recently Hayward became the acting director of the Future Social Service Institute, the result of a collaboration between the government, VCOSS and RMIT University, which hopes to put Victoria in the “box seat” ahead of significant change in the delivery of social service.

The institute aims to design world-best education programs for the social service sector, help train the workforce of the future, research emerging trends and opportunities in social sector reform, and empower not for profits to reorient to a global market.

In this week’s Changemaker, Hayward talks about some of the challenges facing the social sector, putting family first and why setting up the institute is his proudest achievement.

David Hayward headshotWhat attracted you to the social service sector?

It’s because of all of the fantastic work that’s done for end users and quite often by people who are driven by the most wonderful motives.

You are the Future Social Service Institute acting director, what does your role involve?

My job is to set it up, because it just got fully funded last year, and to make sure that it gets going as quickly as possible. The purpose of the institute is to raise the profile of social service work and the enterprises that employ people in the sector, at a time when community services jobs will be the fastest growing segment of employment in Victoria and Australia.

Australia’s social service sector is set for massive growth over the next five years. What does the sector need to do to prepare itself?

I think partly it’s got to lift its sights. So it’s a wonderful opportunity to think about how we might professionalise to a degree that we haven’t thought about before, and how we might think of the sector being about an industry rather than just about welfare.

And finally I think it is a marvellous opportunity to think about how we can take our skillsets to the world, so that we can use the opportunity of the roll out of the NDIS, the ageing of the population structure, and eye-catching things like the response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence to develop just really terrific enterprises and a workforce that is globally fit for purpose.

Where do the challenges lie for the sector?

Partly, it is because some things like the NDIS are being built as it is being rolled out, so the structures are being built as the thing is being rolled out at a rapid pace so the regulatory structure for example is not fully in place.

And there are lots of questions that need to be asked. There’s some important debates that need to take place around how much you want to have an accredited and registered workforce versus one that is more lightly regulated, questions around how much competition you want, how much cooperation and even just what the longer term goal is. Because it is one thing to say “what you want to do is set up a market where end users can buy what they want.” That’s one model, the other one is to say “no, we want something more than that, we want to try and develop professions and occupations that people say hey that would be a great place to work.” Two very different opportunities right before us right now, and if we don’t answer those questions now, it will be too late.

You are on the VCOSS board, what are some of the organisation’s current priorities?

VCOSS is trying to lead the nation I guess, in bringing partnership with RMIT University to drive an agenda that others haven’t really properly caught up with. And what is really pleasing is we’ve had visits from people in the Northern Territory and also from Tasmania and from South Australia who are interested in replicating that model in their state. So how can you partner up the not-for-profit sector with universities to drive innovation in ways we just haven’t thought of before.

You were made a life member of VCOSS, how does it feel to be recognised for the contribution you have made?

It was a wonderful honour. I worked for VCOSS over very many years because I thought that it just served a wonderful purpose and so for it to flip over and for VCOSS to recognise what I had done was just a marvellous honour. I feel really privileged to have that honour next to my name.

What is the future going to hold for you?

I think I’m closer to the end of my career than the beginning and what I’m hoping to do is to play a role in seeing things that I’ve been thinking about for a while, that could be put into effect right now, just because the conditions are right. And that means lifting our sights, lifting our goals, lifting our aspirations, and also just letting people know more generally about what fantastic opportunities currently await us.

For example, [VCOSS CEO] Emma King and I went to a careers morning for careers teachers in secondary schools to talk about work in the community sector. And it was a wonderful thing to able to do that and present it and talk about all of the fabulous things that are being done in places like Melbourne City Mission and a whole myriad of places, that if you went to you would think, that is just brilliant, how terrific is it that we can do things like that, in incredibly innovative ways and with the most superb effects that produce lasting impacts on individual’s lives that also happen to save a lot of money.

Looking back over your career what are you most proud of?

Look probably the thing I’m most pleased about is setting up the Future Social Service Institute because I for a long time had an idea that if somehow we could embed parts of the university in something like VCOSS, so that the academics are thinking not so much about what they want to do but what would be really good for the industry and their end users, if we could do that we could bring about really terrific effects for a whole lot of people. For the academics who are doing the research and the teaching, but most importantly for the enterprises and their end users, whether they are people who are homeless, whether they are people who are victims of family violence, people with a disability, whatever it might be. That is the things that I am probably most proud of and what we need to do now is realise our vision and make sure it happens.

How do you make time for yourself?

I’ve always had a view that family comes first quite frankly so if ever there has been an incidence where I’ve forgotten that, fortunately my partner reminds me. One thing I’ve got to say having done that throughout my working life is there is not one time that I’ve regretted making that priority and I think if I had have got it the other way around I would have deeply regretted it today. So if you just have that as a commitment  you can’t go wrong.

What are you reading or watching at the moment?

Reading, I’ve just finished J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, which is looking at the constituents that voted for Trump over in the States. J. D. Vance is a very interesting writer, he’s just become a columnist for the New York Times. It’s a terrific read because it is quite eye opening about a segment of society we tend to forget about that has become quite influential.

What I’m watching at the moment, I’m still watching series, one that I’m just watching now, is Big Little Lies, it has got Nicole Kidman in it, on HBO. I’d highly recommend it, it is a fabulous series. The other one that I’m just in the middle of watching is The Missing, which is another great series.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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