Each week we will be running Q&As with Australian women doing vital humanitarian and aid work. Women you may not have heard of.
Meet Gina Olivieri, Grassroots Engagement Manager at RESULTS Australia, an organisation working to eradicate poverty worldwide by training volunteers as effective advocates.
1. What does your role entail on a day-to-day basis?
On any given day, my role could involve training, inspiring and supporting passionate, committed everyday people to use their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. This may mean helping a group of volunteers prepare for a meeting with their MP, giving feedback on an opinion piece written by a volunteer for a newspaper, coaching Group Leaders to get the best from their volunteer group, or organising a volunteer trip to Canberra for parliamentary meetings.
2. How did you become involved in humanitarian/aid work?
I always had a sense that it wasn’t right or that people just like me were living vastly different lives to mine, based largely on where they happened to be born. I didn’t know what I could do about it, but by happy coincidence, I volunteered with Oaktree for 4 years after the State Director sat next to me at uni one day. Following this, I volunteered in South Africa, and knew this kind of work was what I wanted to do forever. I wanted to be an aid worker overseas, but another happy coincidence saw me take on my current role with RESULTS instead.
So, what exactly is RESULTS? Let them explain:
3. What are the most rewarding/challenging parts of your job?
It’s so rewarding helping people to be active participants in democracy. People are often really hesitant about speaking to their MP, or writing to a newspaper, or speaking at an event. It’s unreal to see people amaze themselves with how powerful their voice can be. The most challenging part is that advocacy is a marathon, a sprint, and a treadmill (all at once). A marathon because wins are hard to come by, and you’ve got to be in it for the long haul to really see results. At the same time, you need to be able to get into action at the drop of a hat sometimes – the sprint. And other times, you’re on the dreaded treadmill – slogging away, doing all the right things, but getting nowhere. The treadmill is excellent training for the marathon and sprint though!
4. In general, do you think Australians are generous givers?
I know that Australians are in general, generous givers. If you’re ever in trouble, you know your mates will help out. I think plenty of people will relate to my own experience of being the recipient of incredible generosity throughout my life. And that’s not just financially, but in terms of time, resources, space, support and opportunities. I also know that we rank pretty well in global measurements of private giving such as giving to a charity.