Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 898 Issue Date: 16 Feb, 2020

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Towards a Rotary Community Corps of Western Australia

The Rotary Club of Western Endeavour sponsored the establishment of the Rotary Community Corps of Western Australia (RCCWA) in February 2008 and gained District 9450 endorsement of its initiative to Rotary International (RI) in April 2008.

The Corps (comprising ten organizations and individuals) is developing collaborative initiatives that will provide new training and employment pathways to support Aboriginal, disabled and mentally unwell communities to transition into Rotary sponsored youth and vocational initiatives and/or Community Mental Health forums.

Why Bother?
Having worked as a senior manager in corporate business (Shell Oil), as a business owner (service stations and hotels), in government (State) and in community organizations over the last thirty years, one of my key frustrations was the intergenerational “welfare mentality” emerging in some community service providers through the effects of changing regulations, and the economic waste of social innovation when their funding was lost from government or corporate sponsors – normally after three years, when their program had finally got through its “start-up” and was off and running.
As a consequence many community service providers are forced into closing successful projects that are achieving real outcomes in the community, or else having to re-invent or re-badge programs in order to attract new supporters.
This is not how market-forces work in business.
Equally as frustrating is the lack of collaborative mechanisms to support the community service industry. In any other cottage industry sector community cooperatives would have evolved to enable individual organizations to access the economies of scale available to them across a sector and give them a capacity to value-add to another’s development.  
Today in community services, partnering is too often seen as “getting another to give me the money I need to do what I want to do”, rather than development of true community partnerships through joint venturing and value-adding to partner products and services. 
Where is the ability in community services to purchase from another expert provider’s products or services or to cherry-pick from their components in order to create something new? Why must it reinvent a service for another community if an expert service is already in place? Why must its volunteers be forced into competitive membership with other organizations if they merely want to offer a project their service?
Finally there was my frustration as a Rotarian that representatives of disadvantaged groups and individuals – Aboriginal, at risk, mentally unwell and disabled communities – were still unable to access or participate in the normalised Rotarian youth and vocational development initiatives being offered – RYPEN, RYLA, E-WA, YAA, International Exchanges, Siemens Science or Storm the Stage to name a few – and finding new and innovative ways to address this shortcoming. Collaborative opportunities were also being missed – key community service providers had ready made community mental health forums developed – Rotary Clubs had the capacity to access Rotarian funding for such initiatives but no time to develop them.
From these frustrations an idea was born to develop a Rotary Community Corps in Western Australia that would focus on encouraging collaborative responsible enterprise development projects for our disadvantaged communities that packaged together existing community services providing valued experiences relevant to an individual’s community, cultural and development life cycle.
The purpose of Rotary International’s Community Corps program is to improve community living and enhance the enjoyment of life by encouraging community members to contribute to these goals by acting in the spirit of service to the community and their fellow man.
The goals of the Rotary Community Corps program are:
a)      To encourage individuals to take responsibility for the improvement of their village, neighborhood, or community;
b)     To recognize the dignity and value of all useful occupations;
c)      To mobilize self-help activities and collective work to improve the quality of life; and
d)     To encourage the development of human potential to its fullest, within the context of the local culture and community.
A Rotary Community Corps (RCC) is a team of non-Rotarian men and women who are committed to their community’s long-term economic development and self-sufficiency.  RCCs are active in urban and rural communities in both developed and developing countries. An RCC may comprise an entire village or community, or a smaller group within it, such as inner city residents, villagers, retirees or at risk youth.
An RCC is sponsored by a Rotary club and, like Rotaract and Interact, the Rotary club acts as its partner in service for community development. RCCs implement creative and sustainable solutions to meet a wide array of their community’s needs, such as illiteracy, lack of safe water, hunger, pollution, inadequate housing and vocational skill development.
Its main principle is to enable community members to personally address and solve problems in their community. Sponsoring an RCC is a great way to initiate and implement enduring development projects in a community.
These are groups that live in communities where the need for service makes formation of an RCC desirable, but whose members wouldn’t necessarily qualify for Rotary club membership.  Although some RCC members might meet Rotary club membership qualifications, they might not have the time to belong and choose to participate in the RCC instead. In any case, RCCs and Rotarians find their association mutually beneficial in working together to meet the community’s needs.
Glenda Bye
Rotary Club of Western Endeavour
April 2008

Author: Glenda Bye

Published: 2 February, 2008


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