Striving for an equitable future with Melanie Raymond

 

One of Victoria’s local heroes, Melanie Raymond, Chair of Youth Projects, is with us today and is a great representation of youth and homelessness advocacy on our committee and thus a part of our 10 Women, 10 Stories blog series. Melanie Raymond brings a much-needed voice for those in our society who aren’t always able to have their voices heard, listened to and considered to the committee. There are many aspects to our societal structures that most of us have no idea how to handle, and while some would rather not acknowledge, most feel emotionally triggered by. In the moments of feeling disempowered – whether you are personally impacted by social inequity, have been or know those who may be, in not knowing how to navigate challenging issues like youth homelessness, poverty and issues such as underemployment, it is helpful to know that there are people like Melanie Raymond who are taking steps to creating a more equitable society that values creating opportunities for everyone in a very real way on a day to day basis.

We are collectively aiming for a world that is more sustainable not only environmentally but also socially. With these all being matters close to Moral Fairgrounds heart aim to create an event and environment in which all feel represented and heard. Melanie reminds us that “We can shape the future by constantly being vigilant about demonstrably failed policies and approaches that are ruining our future and people’s lives. Being part of the strong voices saying no to injustice and no to the climate deniers is central to any decent future.”

Q. How do you define what you do?

My main role is in corporate governance and strategy in the NFP sector in various board roles. I’m currently Chair of a large charity, Yout Projects, working in youth homelessness. Setting the values and advocacy are key to my role.

Q. What inspired you to begin working in the industry/begin your own business?

I’m driven by social justice and doing what I can to fight inequity. What we do at Youth Projects opens opportunities and creates fairness every day at the core of the problem and that is very rewarding to be part of.

Q. How does the work you do contribute positively to society and the planet?

We’re focused on social sustainability on the basis that a permanent “underclass” of people is unacceptable and preventable. Giving people a real break from poverty, abuse and exclusion is vital to how all of our planet’s systems can work together to leave the unsustainable behind.

Q. What excites you most about the concept of ‘shaping the future’?

I know that poverty is preventable, that bigotry and violence are learned responses. We can shape the future by constantly being vigilant about demonstrably failed policies and approaches that are ruining our future and people’s lives. Being part of the strong voices saying no to injustice and no to the climate deniers is central to any decent future.

Q. What advice do you commonly give to those you work with, be it young women, Mum’s, corporate employees, entrepreneurs, business owners etc want to succeed in their industry?

The juggling required for people’s family responsibilities can be soul-destroying and often you need to push back hard against all the unnecessary pressure on your time and family. Not everything has to happen “today”.
Also, research your business or service and be clear on the impact measures and beneficiaries – have you asked those who you hope to help whether this is what they want?

Q. What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

Kindness is free. If you can help someone it’s not a big burden to offer whatever wisdom you have. Be open and helpful.

Q. What is your approach in leveling the playing field for people from diverse cultures and abilities?

I think that an inclusive and decent culture in the workplace must be set by the leadership so that everyone knows how we welcome and support people. Our key values must be lived daily by our team and taken seriously: no judgment, dignity, and respect, kindness for everyone, always. It’s the standard and you can’t be on our team with anything less. It needs attention from top to bottom but it is clear and not negotiable and it is just how we roll.

Q. What does business need more of and why?

Business needs to open its eyes to a diverse and changing society and the tremendous benefits and opportunities ahead. But also to stop listening to dry economic policies that target the poor and the vulnerable. It’s wrong. And deepening levels of inequality won’t help your business.

Q. What mantra do you find yourself telling yourself most often and why?

Lately I’ve said “No good deed goes unpunished. “
It’s not a picnic working to lift the most excluded people out of poverty and you get hit from the most unexpected places often enough and you pick up and keep going. The rewards are not money or things and practicing good ethics isn’t an easy path.

How can people stay in touch with you?
I’m all over social media.
Instagram: @melanie.raymond.1023
Twitter: Mel_Raymond1
Web page: https://youthprojects.org.au/about/aboutour-board/
YouTube: https://youtu.be/GTYnlm4SBxA

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