Scholar Profile - Dorothy Allen PDF Print E-mail
Dorothy Allen

DOROTHY ALLEN

Board Member at Lithgow Information and Neighbourhood Centre and Finance Officer at Lithgow Community Projects Inc and Lithgow Community Housing Inc

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?

Lithgow Information and Neighbourhood Centre Inc. is a not-for-profit community based organisation which provides the following services:

  • Home and Community Care: including home modification & maintenance, food services (Meals On Wheels, Community Lunches), social support, aged day centre and overnight respite for people with dementia.
  • Disability Services and Active Linking Initiative: including supported accommodation for people with disabilities, social, leisure, recreational and vocational support services to people living in boarding houses.
  • Adolescent & Family Counselling: providing help to adolescents and their families.
  • Communities & Kids: providing early intervention support, activities and resources for families with young children.
  • Community Hub: providing information, referral and other resources to the local community.

Describe a typical day's work.

As Finance Officer of two small not for profit organisations, my day to day tasks range from simple processing of transactions, answering telephone calls and customer queries, to preparing and reviewing budgets, providing management reports and presenting financial reports to the board, monitoring financial performance, preparing costing reports and acquittals, preparing financial policies and procedures. In addition I provide payroll services at both organisations.

As board member at Lithgow Information and Neighbourhood Centre I am involved in governance matters and may be called to assist with staff grievance resolutions.

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

I enjoyed listening to Brooke and Di as they described their experiences in dealing with difficult situations, the techniques they used and their planning of these conversations. I know that in the future I will use these positive communication techniques to help direct difficult conversations.

Our discussions around personality types, I thought, would give me insight into the different ways other people think and react, but what I found instead, is that it gave me a better understanding of my own feelings and reactions in a conflict situation, which I believe will allow me to make positive changes. The workshop was a wonderful learning and networking experience.

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

I think we’ve all experienced workplace situations where conflict was managed poorly, and this has impacted on staff morale at the very least. My hope is that I will be able use the techniques and understanding I have obtained from the workshop to manage difficult situations with more confidence. During the workshop we discussed positive conflict, the development of trust in the workplace, and the opposite development of fear and distrust, where conflict becomes destructive. I thought this was a particularly positive message where conflict was viewed as a normal communicative function which can be channeled to more positive outcomes with proactive approaches such as team building and consultation.

My hope is to be able to use this knowledge in practical ways in the workforce, by supporting and helping to initiate positive management techniques in order to prevent destructive conflict in the first place.

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

Over ten years ago, living in a small town and unable to find work after a period out of the workforce, I began study at TAFE, and began work in the aged care sector, as a personal carer and as a cleaner. The aged care sector has a high staff turnover, even in a small town. This was the beginning of my not for profit work, and I particularly loved it.  In time I moved from personal care and cleaning, back into administration and finance where I had previously worked for many years, and I had my first experience of relief management in this role.

I have now moved on from aged care and work in social housing, welfare and health, and I will soon graduate with Bachelor of Business – Accounting after studying as a part time distance student for many years. I have had some experience outside of the not-for-profit sector, but my dream is to build and share my knowledge in an environment where these skills are most needed, and I continue to work in the not-for-profit industry, not because it’s the only job I can find, but because I love being here.

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

The not for profit sector is important, but also vulnerable, with limited funding and increasing accountability leading to conflicting priorities.  It has become apparent that in order to sustain the sector, particularly in small towns where providers are typically smaller in size, providers must work to build their resources by combining with other providers to take advantage of economies of scale, and to train and retain their most valuable asset – their staff and also their volunteers, including their board members.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am a mature aged, final year, distance university student, studying accounting. My whole life, I have always HATED MATHS!!


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"...My dream is to build and share my knowledge in an environment where these skills are most needed, and I continue to work in the not-for-profit industry, not because it’s the only job I can find, but because I love being here."


ABOUT DOROTHY:

Dorothy has worked and volunteered in the not-for-profit sector for the past 10 years. Her background is in aged care, welfare, community housing and health provision, and she has held a variety of roles at Lithgow over the years.

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

ABOUT LITHGOW:

Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Employment, Development & Housing, Social Services

Operating in:

NSW

Website:

http://www.linc.org.au/