Published: 03 December 2012
Extracted chapter from Griffiths, David (Ed.) Co-operators - Co-operation and Co-operatives, Southeast Housing Co-operative Ltd, 2012, pp 30-31.
I am not a co-operative member but SouthEast provides me with a nurturing and rewarding environment as a paid worker. Fortunately I get to work with the Board and members and other co-operatives and a great staff team.
I was born to be a co-operator. What defines me as a co-operator is a learned and deep sense of unity with others through the spirit of co-operation.
My world began in family diversity through family dysfunction and brokenness. My extended family and community provided the nurture and support for growth and development personally and socially. These experiences lead me to pursue and obtain a degree and post graduation qualifications respectively in local government business and psychology.
Housing co-operatives are defined by their principles one of which is co-operation. I have discovered co-operation in many places.
Over the years I have been involved in community youth clubs at Highett and Moorabbin, the St Kilda Police and Citizens Club and the YMCA in gymnastics, the Essendon Theatre Company, churches in South Yarra, Morawa in Western Australia, Lilydale, Millgrove and Yarra Junction, Strathmore and the College of the Bible.
I have been on the community committee for Anglicare, the management committee of a church based Lilydale supported accommodation agency and worked on the committee that developed and set up the agency. I have supported and accommodated children and young people in the family home, run parenting groups and my wife Gina has been a Nursing Mums Counsellor and group leader, making our home open to Nursing Mothers Association of Australia groups over many years.
I have also been a church elder, led communion and preached in a church at Mildura and Camberwell as a student minister and I am currently involved in preaching and leadership training. Later this year I will jump in tandem from an airplane to raise money for the local high school chaplain.
The community has given me so much and supported me so well. I have learned it is better to give than to receive and to ask not what can be done for you but rather what you can do for others.
When the office relocated to the Hub Plaza Business Centre one of the directors said to me that she was so happy, as in the past people looked down on co-op members as managers of lowly public housing properties. For her the new office symbolised shared responsibility and respect for members and success at caring for the cooperative over many years, this was something to celebrate as it generated feelings of genuine pride. I was so proud of her as she spoke, the fire in her belly, the set of her chin. Here was a real co-op woman, a real example of someone worth following and serving.
Part of my role is to support co-operative member projects that deliver benefits to members. These can include increased participation, community capacity building, employment programs, establishing successful tenancies, energy saving programs, member forums and developing social enterprise, like community gardens and home cooking skills programs.
My challenge to co-operators is to build and own social capital and a socially inclusive and connected community that celebrates its history, identity and values. Poverty and intergenerational dysfunction will decrease and co-op people will be justifiably proud of themselves and their improved ability to seriously influence the state to provide more affordable housing to an ever-increasing demand sector.
I am not a co-operative member. I own my own home, a gift from God for our family. But I am united to the principles that undergird the co-operative movement globally and locally and consider myself most fortunate and privileged to be one of its servants for which I give thanks to God each day. May he continue to bless SouthEast and its members, their families and friends and may they experience the peace and joy that comes from serving each other as co-operators in a genuine spirit of unity and purpose.
Dale Carroll is the Compliance and Development Officer at SouthEast Housing Co-operative Ltd. Dale has a Bachelor of Business in Local Government, a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology and is a qualified Parent Educator. He has worked on the sea, on the land, in manufacturing, retail, insurance, local government and not for profits helping homeless young people with education and work and assisting families to maintain tenancies.