It is my pleasure to present guest blogger Andrew White, Chair of the MS Advisory Council. Andrew was a guest at the 2013 MSA Forum ‘Championing the MS Cause’ – incorporating the MSA National Advocates Conference.
Advocacy – Raising New Possibilities
In the past week, I have had the privilege of attending the MSA Forum ‘Championing the MS Cause’ – incorporating the MSA National Advocates Conference in Melbourne. My initial motivation for attending revolved around my quest to establish new direction in my life now that I have recently retired from permanent, full-time employment. Given my professional background in Human Resources and Employee Relations, the field of advocacy seemed like an appropriate potential future endeavor for me. It also seemed to fit neatly with one of my future life plan objectives of ‘giving back’.
The conference was so much more than I anticipated. Here was a group of inspirational presenters and participants. Despite the significant challenges of their disability, here were people who allow their spirit to overcome the adversity of their condition and work on behalf of others to achieve a better outcome for all. This inspired me and cemented my passion to examine and develop my own capacity to advocate for others.
I was so taken by ‘the power of one’. Carly Findlay presented to us and taught us about how to actively create a very effective advocacy platform, substantially by using social media technology. What a powerful example this is of what is possible. One individual, with a significant disability has built a huge network of influence and is generating momentum for change and making a substantive difference for both individuals and communities that are affected by disability. Thank you for sharing Carly and for your practical inspiration that has given me so much to work with going forward.
Clear also was the power of synergy. It was so encouraging to see a group of people with a common interest come together and work so positively to realise the possibilities rather than bicker about their differences. The Advocacy Team, along with others of us who attended, modelled excellence in teamwork. This will ultimately build the capacity and capability of MS Australia in its critical advocacy work. The panel discussion on the first day highlighted for me what can be achieved through determined collaboration. Disability Care Australia has much to do with strong collective advocacy undertaken by people with disability. Achieving the benefits of synergy in teams has always struck me as critical in a commercial environment and this conference has demonstrated very plainly how relevant it also is in the not-for-profit sector.
During my career, primarily in the commercial sector, I had many wonderful development opportunities and I have pondered whether this was a positive influence in my life that was to become a thing of the past. I have embraced this conference as ‘one of the best’ in terms of what it has provided me with personally but more importantly, what it will contribute in relation to advocacy on behalf of people affected by MS. Thank you MS Australia for this terrific opportunity.
For my own part, I am building my learnings into my own life plan in support of one of my key aspirations to ‘give back’. I would also encourage you to explore what opportunities might exist for you to positively influence our world. The ‘power of one’ is indeed a possibility.