Breaking the Ice With…Denise Budge

What is rocking your world today?

Today I am working  on our 26th Annual Report for Knox Infolink which is the largest emergency relief provider in Knox. I have been with the organisation for just on two years after spending nearly 30 years in the community sector in other organisations – most of which have been in the Outer East. It makes me realise that I have seen a lot of changes, and in other ways, not much has changed at all. Like most NFPs running on the smell of an oily rag, we all have to multitask. I am putting together a 36 page booklet style report, it has certainly pushed my IT skills to the limit but it is a great opportunity to review all the achievements of the previous year and reflect on the wonderful team of staff and volunteers that make it all happen.  A truly fantastic team that rocks my day every day.

What are you most excited about in your job this year? 

I am most excited about the new partnership that has been forged this year with UnitingCare Harrison who will be co-locating with us.  This will mean a more holistic service being offered to our clients that will include housing support in the same office location.  With 95% of our clients being tenants or homeless, this partnership will be invaluable for our clients. The other exciting partnership is with Knox Council, Bayswater Op Shop and Mountain Gate Op Shop. Knox Infolink will be taking over the management of the Knox Community Fund previously managed by Knox Council. It was set up 40 years ago to provide a fund for the Op Shops to donate to, so that funds could be re-directed to fund other worthwhile community projects. The management of this fund is extremely exciting and has great potential for growth.

Where would you like to see your work go? What are your ambitions?

I would love to see the full potential of the growth of the Knox Community Fund realised (before I retire) so that businesses can confidently donate to a fund that will focus 100% on supporting the Knox community. In particular, those in the community that are in crisis or disadvantaged so that we can make a meaningful difference to their lives. There are so many things that I would like to see happen through the work of Knox Infolink (too many to mention here) but another focus would be to address the frightening statistic of 17% of our clients being homeless, sleeping rough, couch surfing or in non permanent accommodation.  Another focus would be to develop stronger links with the primary health networks and G.P.s to address the high number of our clients who have mental health issues, primarily depression and anxiety. We are equipped to provide material aid, but we need to provide more casework that will support clients. This is so we can link more effectively with health care professionals so that the increasing stress in our clients’ lives can be addressed more adequately.

What do you want to be known for professionally? 

I would like to be known as:

  • A team player and leader that is not frightened to work at the coal face to truly understand the clients’ needs
  • An innovator and negotiator who can get a better deal for those in need.

In your job, what is something you are proud of? 

I am super proud of our new project called ‘Connecting Kids to the Knox Community’ which has been funded with a small Knox Council Community Development Grant. This project has negotiated more than 40 free or highly subsidised places in sporting and activity clubs that will be matched with kids from disadvantaged families who would not normally ever get this opportunity of participation. This was my idea 12 months ago after seeing how we support families with food and other resources. One of the greatest struggles for these families is the feeling of isolation and disconnection from the community. Not only are the parents disconnected, but so are the children.  Our wonderful Project Worker, Nikki Maddern, has seen this project grow beyond expectations and we are now hopeful for stage 2 funding so that we can match all these places with kids in need. Learn more about the Connecting Kids to the Knox Community project here..

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by all the people around me – most particularly the generosity of all the volunteers. Most of our work is done by volunteers and without their commitment, we could not do what we do. They inspire me to strive to achieve the best I can for the organisation. But if you were to ask me who would I like to have dinner with, I would have to say the Social Commentator – Jane Caro. Every time I hear her speak I think how sensible and thought provoking she is.

What are 3 things on your bucket list?

I would love to have the opportunity to travel Europe with my husband and explore all the places we see and hear about. I would love to return to dancing. Finally, I would love to have more time to spend with the grandchildren.