Scholar Profile - Alison Dunn PDF Print E-mail
Alison Dunn

ALISON DUNN

Director, Media & Communications at Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME)

Awarded a scholarship for the 2015 Successful Conflict Management Workshop, facilitated by the Australian Scholarships Foundation, Victoria University and Corrs Chambers Westgarth


What sort of work does your organisation do?

AIME is the biggest provider of educational support in the Indigenous space and one of the largest volunteering organisations in Australia. In 2014 we connected 3,500 Indigenous high school kids with over 1,500 volunteer university student mentors. We are on track to reach 10,000 Indigenous kids and have 3,000 uni students as mentors annually by 2018. We aim to see every one of these kids finish school and transition to university, employment or further education at the same rate as every Australian kid.

Describe a typical day's work.

My days are typically atypical! One day I might be working with a reporter on a story about the world’s first ever sky-high mentoring session (which we ran in partnership with Virgin Australia last year), and another day I’ll be working with our team to brainstorm content for our Facebook page, which typically reaches upwards of 350,000 people per week. A lot of my work is dependent on seeing where media and communications opportunities lie and shining a light on the people who make the program tick: the kids, mentors, parents, teachers, partners and our staff who are working to build a better tomorrow.

What are some of the key learnings from the Successful Conflict Management Workshop?

The different approaches that course participants adopted in acting out the role-plays was testament to how one situation – even a hypothetical situation – could be perceived so differently by each party. It was a reminder to never assume to know how a person feels about or will respond to a situation, but to ask open questions that will help both parties work towards a resolution with understanding and empathy.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

It’s amazing how difficult it can be to clearly articulate a problem; particularly an emotionally-charged problem. The course provided a model for working through that process, from planning the conversation, to identifying the issues, exploring the options, and taking steps towards a resolution.

It’s one of the most exciting things to be working in a space where we grapple with deep-seated systemic issues and ways of doing things. It’s also one of the most challenging. It’s inevitable that people will hold different ideas about how best to approach a particular situation. Whether it’s working with my team to develop the best approach to a communications challenge, or liaising with a media contact to unpack particular elements of a story, this course was so valuable as a chance to zoom out and take a helicopter view of conflict management. It’s important to our organisation as a whole because anything we can do to resolve conflict fairly and with empathy is going to help smooth the path to reaching 10,000 Indigenous kids across Australia each year by 2018.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

My earliest experiences in the NFP sector were volunteering roles with groups like Surf Life Saving Australia, and later with AIME. I look back on my time as a volunteer mentor with AIME as one of the most memorable experiences of university life.

During university I got a thirst for journalism whilst reporting environmental, cultural and political affairs on fellowship with Malaysia’s main broadcaster in Kuala Lumpur. Before coming to AIME, I also worked in national television news production and with a global public relations firm, specialising in healthcare.

There's something very special about working with, and learning from, the world's oldest living culture. I'm incredibly proud to be part of this team and look forward to the day when Indigenous kids complete school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers.

It will happen in my lifetime.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

What I see in AIME and in other organisations like the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and Career Trackers are some very bright minds doing great things in the space. To build and retain this talent, I believe we need three things:

  • High quality avenues to up skill NFP employees. This is where organisations like the Australian Scholarships Foundation come in.
  • Solid partnerships between NFPs, business, government and media. These are not problems to be solved in isolation; it’s going to take cross sector commitment.
  • Reward brave, daring fundraising and innovation. To borrow from Dan Palotta, “When you prohibit failure you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising you can’t raise more revenue, if you can’t raise more revenue you can’t grow, and if you can’t grow you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I love sport but I can’t stand watching it on telly – I’d rather be playing!


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"There's something very special about working with, and learning from, the world's oldest living culture. I'm incredibly proud to be part of this team and look forward to the day when Indigenous kids complete school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers."


ABOUT ALISON:

Alison Dunn first volunteered with AIME in 2007 as a mentor and a few years later in 2011 she became their Media & Communications Director. Prior to her time at AIME, Alison also worked in national television news production and with a global public relations firm, specialising in healthcare.

In early 2015, ASF awarded Alison a scholarship to attend the Successful Conflict Management Workshop run by Victoria University and supported by Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

ABOUT AIME:

Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Education & Research

Operating in:

QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, ACT

Website:

http://aimementoring.com/