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Helping to help

Lucinda Young has joined The Salvation Army’s team in communications and fundraising at THQ, working with schoolchildren to explain the organisation’s mission and role in Australian society, as well as raising awareness of social justice issues. Her current role has been made easier by her life experience and her qualifications in teaching and social work.

One of the first things you notice about Lucinda Young is that she listens, and then thinks carefully before she speaks; two attributes and skills that are not universally held or practised.  Perhaps that attention to others initially was developed in her initial choice of career – teaching.

‘I studied at Deakin University, with a joint degree in teaching and applied science*, from 2003 to 2007,’ Lucinda recalls.  While I was doing prac. teaching I was working as a pharmacy assistant.’

An opportunity came up in 2008 for Lucinda to teach in Indonesia, funded by AusAID, in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo). She worked with 35 students, from the primary to the secondary spectrum, while developing a health curriculum and teaching health, science and swimming. They were good, busy days, before Lucinda came back home for Christmas 2009 to again take up teaching as an emergency or substitute teacher in primary and secondary schools around Traralgon, Churchill and Morwell.

‘Having some of my old teachers as peers was strange,’ Lucinda smiles.  ‘It was a time of deep socio-economic difficulties for the students, with lots of behavioural issues and trauma after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, with student deaths and deaths in families and friendship groups.’

The travel bug bit again, and Lucinda ventured to Christchurch, New Zealand later in 2009 until January 2010. Teaching work was not available, so Lucinda supported herself by retailing plastic boxes, and while in Christchurch she enrolled as a voluntary mentor and guide for new migrants.

Lucinda’s passion for social justice is a key passion for her. After returning home in February 2010 and initially enrolling in a master’s degree in teaching English, she took a six-month sabbatical from study and, in January 2011, started a now-completed master’s degree in social work (MSW’ she graduated in December 2012).

‘My interest in social justice is a broader than just working with refugees,’ Lucinda explains. ‘While I was studying I worked part-time with The Big Issue ** leading a class program where we introduced secondary and tertiary students to vendors and other people. The students learnt about homelessness from our guests. My studies also highlighted to me the many aspects of injustice that exist in our society & for me I realised that education is way to prevent and raise awareness of such issues.  My other job during this time was at a cafe, baking cupcakes and chocolates.’

Sweet gigs, both. The Salvation Army was fortunate to have Lucinda join the team, applying in March and starting in April as a community/schools development representative.

‘I have found everyone welcoming and friendly,’ Lucinda says, ‘and the Salvos’ mission seems to be caring for people with a practical aspect, which I appreciate. My role is to help get the word out about social issues and hopefully then help foster support for the Salvos’ work.’

To date, Lucinda has helped coordinate seven secondary groups, averaging 18 students per group, for workshops and tours in the city.  The week after the Red Shield Appeal she had 10 tours booked.

She is also a part of the Salvos School Challenge, this year 80 schools have registered their involvement. In 2012 schools door-knocked or completed in school fund-raisers that collected $97,000 to help others through The Salvation Army.

‘It’s really great to be in a working environment where people are dedicated and keen,’ Lucinda says. ‘When you are organised and passionate, you can achieve a lot of good.’

* B Teach (Sec.), BAs (health promotion).
** The Big Issue is a social enterprise that provides employment for people that have experienced disadvantage.