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Ross Smith on Volunteering and Community

This is Ross Smiths's contribution to the RedWater Montage book on Volunteer. With his passing this sums up how many people in Redfern and Waterloo experienced Ross. This booklet was produced by the Factory Community Centre and South Sydney Community Aid in September 2012. It collects 39 stories of volunteers in the Redfern and Waterloo area and information about where they volunteer. These stories both show the importance and strength of volunteers and groups in our community.
Ross Smith on Volunteering and Community

Ross Smith on Volunteering and Community


South Sydney Community Aid, the Factory Community Centre, the Central Sydney Region Public Tenants Council, Waterloo Neighbourhood Advisory Board, Social Housing Tenant Advisory Committee, REDWatch, Kings Cross Community Centre

For many years I used to be on the board of management at South Sydney Community Aid, as well as retaining an active interest. Also I’ve had similar roles at the Factory Community Centre; The Central Sydney Region Public Tenants Council; Waterloo Neighbourhood Advisory Board; Social Housing Tenant Advisory Committee; and others, going back 30-40 years, since I started to live in the area.When you live in an area, you get to know people and you get involved in the area. I’ve associated with different organisations over that period… and you sort of get kidnapped! You become involved in the direction of them, the policies, where they’re going and what they attempt to do.

Also, through other associations you can get involved in policy issues, with local, state and federal government, and that sort of flows into other volunteering. In my case, I’m on the management of Kings Cross Community Centre. I was also one of the founding members of REDWatch, which is a resident action group for Redfern, Eveleigh, Darlington & Waterloo. So my experience is not entirely focussed on just one organisation, but across the broader local community.

There are some skills sets come with the course, they develop over a period of time – you can’t pick a book up and become an overnight expert. What do I get out of it? It’s a community; it’s a family; you’re part of a structure. Call it what you like, you’re part of the area that you live in. When people ask why I become involved in community work like this, I tell them that it’s because I’d like to think that one day someone would help me. And why be scared? It’s a community - if you have any concern for the people around you, if you’d like to have friends, be able to nod to people as you go down the street and say hello to them… it’s only a small extension from that to ask them how they’re feeling today and having a brief conversation with them. It’s about being friendly; talking to people and relating to people. In the inner city in particular, it can be a very lonely place if you don’t want to talk to people.

So don’t be scared - it can’t bite you!

Volunteering is your choice, as far as what you get involved in, and the degree to which you become involved…