We spend some time with the Crescent Foundation Chairman Hon. Bob Carr to get an insight into the amazing contributions the Foundation has had not only on the educational scholarships but also the urgently needed work the NFP Brothers in Need are doing with their assistance to the homeless community.
Tell us a little about what motivated you to join the Crescent Foundation board?
The thing that got my attention and stood out above all else is the work the Foundation does with students from refugee backgrounds. In my career I have interacted greatly with families from refugee backgrounds and they’ve always shown commitment and loyalty to their new home country. They are very hard working people and to see these youngsters move through post school education fills me with hope for our amazing country’s future.
As NSW Premier from 1995-2005 I had a significant interest in education. I introduced policy to lift the literacy standards in our schools. I worked with talented teachers and educators to enhance the life opportunities of kids, who like me came from modest, working class upbringing.
I like many Australians grew up in a working-class family, my father was a train diver and went to a public school, Matraville High School, and was also the first in my family to go to university. All my opportunities in life came from that education. So I understand the importance of education. It fills me with great pride to see students from refugee backgrounds do well, especially given the hardship many of them went through to seek safety.
There are many stories of people who have taken their chances to seek safety, I have met Afghan families that came via Christmas Island and Port Headland and youngsters who got out of Indo-China in small fishing vessels, risking their lives and the lives of their families to now make wonderful contributions across so many industries in Australia, there efforts and achievement really inspires me.
I’ve been blessed to have precious insights into the refugee experience over the years, hence why I was impressed by the educational scholarship program we have on offer. Having already awarded over 20 scholarships to hard working and academic high achieving student who will no doubt be leaders of this country of ours.
What excites you about the positive impacts the Crescent Foundation is having?
We’ve living with an extraordinary homeless problem without a single solution. The problem is exacerbated and is ever more urgent given the existing COVID-19 crisis, making our efforts more important. For the Crescent Foundation it is important to delivery real assistance to the homeless.
In Australia we have more than 130,000 people who are considered homeless, this should not be the case. Working with Not for Profits like Brothers in Need allows for the assistance to reach those that need it directly and with greater impact. On average they feed over 17,500 people every year on the streets of NSW & QLD.
In many cases they have also worked alongside other great services to connect them with job opportunities, permanent accommodation. They also run a rotating roster of services for the homeless community, including, food distribution, haircuts, podiatry & chiropractor sessions.
What message would you like to give to people struggling at the moment?
I want to be very careful not to lecture people who are struggling or sleeping rough, I don’t know what it’s like to be in the shoes of another human being, when I see someone homeless, I simply remember that it could have been me had it not been for the luck I’ve had in life.
For anyone going through a tough time, whether you are struggling because you’ve missed out on an opportunity for a job, or in fact lost a job, know that this is not a reflection on you, don’t give up hope. What you are going through reflects the impact of the pandemic on the economy. You have talent, please be patient and keep you spirits up until the economic situation improves.
What is the board looking forward to implementing moving into FY21?
We’re very much looking forward to consolidating on the amazing programs and partners we’ve build over that last few years.
We have some very impression partners, they include Western Sydney University, Scouts NSW, Brothers in Need, What Matters? And Bankstown Poetry Slam, who are all doing amazing work in their devoted areas.
We have a dedicated board with a great depth of experience and commitment to the causes we contribute towards, we look forward to extending on these contributions and build on the great partner relationships.
Finally, it means contributing to our shared future directions. Being part of policy decisions. Engaging with those in the decision-making seats and expressing the vision we have for Australia. We are proud to be able to achieve this through our Not For Profit partner organisations and shape the world we live in.
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Talal currently serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University Foundation Council Board. He also serves as Chairman of First Quay Capital and Chairman of the Australian Arab Dialogue. Talal has also served on the Australia Post, Board of Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and the Western Sydney Area Health Service and the Chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Council of Australia Arab Relations. In an executive capacity, Talal spent 10 years at PwC as a director and strategist, and at investment firm Babcock & Brown in the Corporate Finance Group and later in the Technical Real Estate Division. Later Talal held leadership positions in Better Place Australia, Platinum Hearing and Star Transport Australia.