So what then are the values which underpin the community sector? What is it that drew me to work in this sector all those years ago and do those values still operate in the contemporary context?
In the maelstrom of the Apartheid society, the promise of working in the community sector was the opportunity to:
- Hold in my heart a vision of a society at odds with the one of the prevailing government – a non-racist, non-sexist, just community.
- Think laterally – to analyse the prevailing problems and to develop innovative practice that could in some way achieve this vision.
- Do whatever was possible to transfer power (skills, knowledge, money and other material resources) to those most disadvantaged.
- Work in a way that cut across the range of social issues and did not divide people into silos.
- Advocate for the most disadvantaged and marginalized members of the community and challenge injustice.
- Develop social capital through the voluntary participation of people committed to achieving the goals of the organization, developing informal support networks and contributing to civil society.
- Work in a democratic organization.
- Develop links with other national and international organizations that were willing to support organizations in challenging the status quo.
Hence, work in this context was both practical (in terms of the capacity to deliver innovative services) and political (in terms of the willingness of these organizations to challenge the status quo and address inequality).
Table of Contents
2. What are the values of the community sector?
3. What do the values of the community sector look like in practice?
4. What principles drive community based social service organizations in Australia?
5. The challenges faced by the not-for-profit community sector in maintaining our values
6. How does the not-for-profit community sector maintain our ideals, survive and thrive in this challenging context?