Scholar Profile - Anne Mathews PDF Print E-mail
Anne Mathews

ANNE MATHEWS

Non-Executive Director at The School Volunteer Program (SVP), The Humanitarian Group, and Be Living Smart Inc

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / AICD scholarship for the Company Directors Course, 2014


What sort of work does your organisation do?

The School Volunteer Program (SVP) – works in partnership with schools across Western Australia to deliver volunteer and mentoring services. SVP works with children and young people at risk of not achieving their educational potential to strengthen school engagement and increase resilience by providing high quality mentoring programs and identifying, training and supporting volunteers who are committed to improving education and life outcomes for students. These students benefit from either one-on-one mentoring or additional support provided through SVP volunteers. Last year, SVP supported 229 schools through the dedication of up to 1,000 volunteers working to support almost 2,000 children and young people. The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, the majority are from Oceania region comprising of 25 countries, followed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, North African/Middle East/Sub Saharan African ethnicity.

The Humanitarian Group –provides culturally sensitive legal services to refugees, asylum seekers and people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Western Australia who are disadvantaged in their access to the legal system and information and education on refugee issues to interested parties. The Humanitarian Group assists these vulnerable people with access to justice and services, and advocates for them and educates the community on these issues. The clients come from 54 countries with the overwhelming majority from Afghanistan but also from many African countries. In 2013-2014, 1,075 people from 32 countries were assisted with advice or assistance. The Humanitarian Group works with a volunteer Board, volunteer law graduates, administration volunteers, volunteer migration agents and lawyers, and volunteers gave 4,000 hours of their time.

Be Living Smart Inc - aims to create sustainable communities through increased awareness of sustainability and ecological issues, shared actions to protect the environment and reinforcing sustainable behaviour change so we and future generations can enjoy the environment we live in.  It acts as a behaviour change catalyst by facilitating, encouraging, supporting, inspiring and celebrating more sustainable ways of living through the delivery of Living Smart course and activities.  Living Smart runs a multi award winning behaviour change course which provides participants with the skills and knowledge to take action in their own homes to improve their quality of life and reduce their environmental impact.  The program consists of ten key modules: simple living, water, power, waste, gardening for biodiversity, gardening for food production, transport, healthy you, healthy home, and community.

Describe a typical day's work.

I do not have a typical day as such. Generally, I start my day with 15 minutes of meditation which helps me to focus on the tasks ahead of me for the day. At work, my day usually involves managing programs and projects and meeting with my colleagues and external stakeholders. I attend Board meetings in the evenings for the three Not-for-Profit organisations I am on. I also prepare for Board meetings, attend to tasks that I have responsibility for on Board Committees such as the Governance Committee, Risk Committee and Strategic Planning Committee and also chair some of these Board Committees. I assist the Not-for-Profit organisations with developing and implementing strategic plans, risk assessments and policy development. In addition, I attend professional development seminars and dinners through LeadershipWA and the Australian Institute of Management and also try to fit in a yoga or pilates class into my day.

What are some of the key learnings from the Company Directors Course?

The Company Directors Course reinforced my understanding of the roles and responsibilities and the challenges of being a director. In addition, it provided me with an excellent revision of strategy development, risk management, the legal environment and achieving board effectiveness. The modules on financial literacy were particularly useful and I gained a lot of confidence in understanding and interpreting financial statements and the role of the director in driving organisational performance. It also reinforced the fact that Not-for-Profit directors have similar responsibilities to those on for-profit boards and should take their responsibilities seriously.

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

The knowledge gained from completing the Company Directors Course has enabled me to assist the not-for-profit organisations that I am on to improve board performance and effectiveness and in fulfilling their legal, ethical and moral obligations. In addition, I have been able to share the knowledge gained and up-to-date information obtained from the Company Directors Course with other Board members and assist them in improving their understanding of the roles and responsibilities of directors, ethical decision making, strategy, governance and risk management. I have assisted the Not-for-Profit organisations I work with to develop their strategic plans, review policies and set up risk management plans.

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

I believe in giving back to the community, and one of the ways of doing this is through my voluntary role as Non-executive Director on not-for-profit organisations. I have a strong interest in education and helping children from low socio-economic backgrounds to gain a good education which is important for their future. So, I joined the School Volunteer Program which works with children and young people at risk of not achieving their educational potential by providing high quality mentoring programs. I joined The Humanitarian Group Board as I am from a cultural and linguistically diverse background and am passionate about making a difference to the lives of migrants, people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds and addressing social justice issues to improve the lives of refugees. My professional background is in the environmental area and I am interested in sustainability and climate change and looking after the Earth. So, I joined the Be Living Smart Inc. Board which aims to build sustainable communities and reduce environmental impact through behaviour change. In addition, I have extensive experience in the areas of science, environment, climate change, training, disability and Indigenous issues from working in a number of senior positions in Government, universities and research organisations which I am keen to share with the Not-for-Profit organisations that benefit from my skills and expertise in strategic planning, policy and governance.

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

The NFP sector has passionate people who make a big difference to the lives of people and communities in a range of areas and improves social outcomes. However, they do not widely promote their achievements and need to be able to do this more effectively by undertaking evaluations to show their long-term benefit and impact of funding. In the current economic environment, funding for NFP is limited and they need to look at ways of diversifying, building collaborations, setting up strategic partnerships and pooling expertise and resources to provide good services. In addition, with the number of highly qualified and experienced people taking redundancies there is an opportunity to attract this pool of talent to use their expertise and skills to build up the capacity of NFPs.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I love travelling and learning about new cultures.  I have travelled widely but there are many more countries left to visit which I am looking forward to.


Click here to read about other ASF scholars.

Click here to find out more about the Bankwest Foundation Community Leader Scholarship Program.


"The knowledge gained from completing the Company Directors Course has enabled me to assist the not-for-profit organisations that I am on to improve board performance and effectiveness and in fulfilling their legal, ethical and moral obligations."


ABOUT ANNE:

Dr Anne Mathews is currently the Executive Manager of the Pilbara Restoration Initiative at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority. She also dedicates her time to a number of not-for-profit organisations including The School Volunteer Program, The Humanitarian Group and Be Living Smart Inc where she is a non-executive director.

In 2014, ASF awarded Anne a scholarship to attend the AICD's Company Directors Course, supported by the Bankwest Foundation, AICD and ASF.

ABOUT SVP:

Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Education & Philanthropic Intermediaries and Volunteerism Promotion

Operating in:

WA

Website:

http://www.svp.org.au/


ABOUT THE HUMANITARIAN GROUP:

Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Law, Advocacy & Politics

Operating in:

WA

Website:

http://www.thehumanitariangroup.org.au/


ABOUT BE LIVING SMART INC:

Annual revenue / size:

Small - $80,000 - $250,000 pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Environment

Operating in:

WA

Website:

http://livingsmart.org.au/