The spirit and success of a movement lies in its ability to change. This sense of change is one that seeks to preserve dignity through perseverance, in the hopes that communities continue to grow. GK Australia currently finds itself at this stage. As always, GK has always been a dynamic movement. In an Australian context, GK Australia (GKA) is establishing itself as a movement that builds on this. To do this, GKA needs to establish itself as a non-profit organisation. Currently, GKA is recognised as a business, but cannot operate as a charity. This affects how effectively GKA can fund-raise money to help GK villages, as without the title of being a charity, donations are not tax deductible. Moreover, establishing itself as a charity will aid in the outreach GKA hopes to activate. Charity, in this sense, is not simply about “hand-outs”, but about building relationships, self-reliance and self-empowerment. With this, GKA aims to bridge the gap between its non-Indigenous and Indigenous citizens. This focus on Australia is a new direction for GK, and one that is an important step to take in promoting genuine reconciliation.
For this, GKA is going through a re-structure headed by an interim board consisting of Andrew Chalk (Chair), Tony Meloto (Deputy Chair), Louise Davis, Marisa Vedar, George Lemon and Patsy Gutierrez. According to the recent GKA meetings held in Melbourne and Sydney, this board provides leadership and broad policy direction for the governance of GKA.
There will also be four main committees: the Secretariat (overall co-ordination and liaison), Internal (Accounting & Compliance, Policy Support), External (Partnerships, Communications and IT), and Operations (Volunteer Management, Domestic and International Programs). Together, the board and the committees aim to work together to maintain the integrity of GK and to establish GKA as a progressive and productive entity.
This sense of productivity was shown at the recent meeting held in Mars Hill Cafe, Parramatta on 24 March. Stemming from the successful National GK meeting held in Melbourne, the Sydney meeting aimed to communicate the points discussed at the Melbourne meeting. These points included informing participants about the re-structure, as well as the new roles and changes to GKA, as most of us know it.
Some of these changes include halting fundraising initiatives until GKA has secured DGR (deductible gift recipient) status. What this means is that the GK Outbound programs (formerly known as YGAT) will not eventuate. However, this does not mean that raising awareness about GK should stop, but rather this should continue to keep the momentum alive. Another change is that there will no longer be a distinction between GK Youth and GKA. Both will amalgamate as one, an important move to make in order to ensure that every member of GKA works in tandem with one another.
Some of these changes will occur at a quicker rate than others, but the expected timeline for everything to be finalised is two years. While this seems like a long time, in the scheme of things, two years is a drop in the ocean. As GK Youth leader, Marie Oconer stated, it takes longer for new businesses to establish themselves. Liam King, another GK volunteer, also pointed out, that in ten years time, when we look back to this moment when it all began, we can be proud of what we achieved and what we continue to strive to do. Using this logic, Rachel San Pedro-Loyola, a GK volunteer remarks: “The next two years could quite possibly be the most challenging, frustrating and painful period, but the fruits of our labour will be worth it.”
By: Elaine Marie Laforteza