Meet Bruce Bland, a fit 70 year old living in Rose Bay, Sydney.
My name is Bruce Bland. I am a fit 70 year old and live in Rose Bay Sydney.
I got involved with ICV about 12 years ago through an advertisement in the newspaper looking for volunteers. I became involved because I had recently retired and I believed that people, not money, solve problems. So my ICV involvement was a way of proving just that. I became involved for a broader reason also. I was educated by the Jesuit Priests who told us we had an elite education and so had an obligation to “put back” in society in later life, in whatever way we could.
My ICV experience has been, for me, like another university degree. It has taught me so much about our Indigenous citizens and the vast range of difficulties they face in remote locations. I empathise with them and see that with a hand up (not a hand out) they can achieve their goals and lead fulfilled lives.
I have worked on over a dozen ICV projects all over Australia. My projects are not one-offs as I generally go back to the community several times, for a week to 10 days each time. In the intervening period I work on the project from home. My first ICV project was on Murray Island in the Torres Strait. It is not possible to say what has been the most rewarding project for me because they are all so different in their scope and nature. Generally, the project I am currently working on is the most rewarding.
I find out about the projects I have been involved in through some wonderful ICV employee who contacts me, briefs me, and asks if it would suit my range of skills. If so, and they generally do, I then discuss the project with the community member in charge…. and we take it from there. The current project I am working on is on Palm Island (off the coast of Townsville). I have been there once and am going back there again shortly. The tangible result of the project is that the project team will have, and be able to use, a reporting system (which is not complicated or time consuming) to demonstrate to the Queensland Government (which is funding the project) that they are fulfilling the essential conditions in the service agreement for the project. And so funding will continue. The team members have more confidence and understand better the wider ramifications of justifying funding. They are, at the same time, developing programs which will benefit the whole community.
From this project I have learnt that, as is generally the case, the local community know the problem and the solution. An outsider can often bring the players together and assist them to implement their solution.
What has volunteering with ICV taught me about myself? That we are not always successful, but that’s life. We learn from our mistakes and if we don’t “give it a go”, then surely we will never be successful.