GBS is at the forefront of organising and running leadership programs for their students. The peak program they offer is the Griffith Business School Student Leadership Programme, a two-year program aimed at improving students leadership, personal and professional development, and networks. I gained entry to the program in 2012, the first year the program was run. Since then, I have completed five extremely beneficial leadership and professional development workshops,  with the likes of Patsy Rowe (Patsy Rowe Enterprises), Jane Anderson (Inside Out Training and Coaching) and Tarran Deane (Corporate Cinderella). I’ve also been to a leadership camp on the north coast and undertaken a 0.125 EFTSL credit point Community Internship in Lao, Southeast Asia. Asides from this, the program also requires students to undertake at least 60 hours community and university voluntary service.

Here is what I found from this program:

GBSSLP has been a great opportunity to fully engage with my community/ies. Over the past two years I have undertaken a number of volunteering positions. From working in a thrift shop, at a stall at the Ekka, with mental health awareness, in Laos, and for an international organisation in Taiwan dealing with gender equality. Of these positions,  I would just like to concentrate on two in my report here – the thrift shop and mental health first aid positions.

In April 2012 I started volunteering at the McIntyre Centre’s Riding for Disabled Thrift Shop on Station Rd, Indooroopilly. This shop is one of four (soon to be six) which support the Riding for Disabled centre in west Brisbane –  Moggill/Pinjarra Hills. All proceeds go towards food, shelter and equipment for the centre and its horses.logo

For the past one and a half years I have continued to volunteer at the store each week and have gradually gained more and more responsibilities. I started volunteering here because we were required to by the Leadership Programme. Very quickly though, once I had completed my 30 hours, it was not at all about the programme any more, it was simply about doing something I enjoyed and working somewhere I was able to properly help.

Initially, I was just doing sorting at the back and occasionally point-of-sale at the cash register. Now, I have taken over more management responsibilities and do recruitment and banking for the store.

I love working here. Absolutely, 100% love it. Why? Because I work with a small, tight-knit team. One of my best friends here is a great-grandmother, Joy, who is exactly as her name implies – a joy to work with. I also workthrift shop with an old high school friend, Meaghan Donaldson, and we while away the hours in the store sorting donations, pricing items, listening to country radio and drinking tea. Some of the donations we come across are hilarious – you can only imagine what sort of things we get – and it is always a little bit different working here.

I work every Friday afternoon, and it is the best introduction to the weekend. I’ve thought a lot about it, and honestly believe I would not enjoy this work as much if I was being paid. Because I am doing it voluntarily and for free, there is no pressure, no rush to do a particular thing, and it is a very relaxed, accepting environment. I honestly cannot imagine not working there – it is a way for me to have interaction with another sector of the community and also a way to unwind. It is a relatively stress-free job and has given me a number of new skills – in team management and retail in particular.

I was originally encouraged to work for this organisation as a good family friend was the manager of the store and I have previously ridden with the Riding for Disabled centre when I was a member of the Moggill Pony Club. Its values are fairly simple – to provide an opportunity for disabled children and adults to engage with horses and have fun, as well as having many therapeutic benefits for those involved. It also provides a place for older horses who are still of use to have a home and a meaningful life, which I feel is very important, having lived with and competed on horses for my entire life.

Camera 360Asides from my work with the thrift shop, in semester two of 2012 I took over the Vice Presidency of the Mental Health First Aid for Youth organisation within Griffith’s Enactus Club. This is another voluntary role and one I feel very strongly about. I have now been in this position for one year and have worked with organisations such as Edmund Rice Camps, Young Scientists Australia, Girl Guides Queensland, and the St Vincent de Paul Society. I work as the first point of contact for the non-profit community organisations for which we run free Mental Health First Aid workshops, as well as a facilitator. I am passionate about this position as I strongly believe in reducing the stigma and taboo surrounding mental health issues and bringing conversations into the rooms of ordinary families.  One in five people have a diagnosed mental illness in Australia – which means that you are affected by mental health issues even if you are not aware… Someone around you, in your office, in your family, in your life, has a mental health problem and I believe it is our responsibility to acknowledge this and do whatever we can to support and help people (and ourselves!) in our community regarding this. I also had the privilege of also travelling to Sydney to speak about our organisation at the Enactus National Conference in July 2013.

Ultimately the GBS Student Leadership Programme has given me the platform from which to extend myself into the community sector. Without it, I wouldn’t necessarily have had the impetus to volunteer on my own, nor the support needed to continue. It has opened me up to a completely different area of my local community and I am extremely grateful of that!

If you want to be part of the GBS Leadership Program: Click Here

If you want to volunteer for the McIntyre Centre Riding for Disabled: Click Here

If you want to know more about Mental Health First Aid: Click Here