“Get to know your board members” series: Paul Sekfy

16 / 12 / 2021 | News

Where do you work and what is your title?

I am currently Treasurer of the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre in New South Wales, Australia. I am also Treasurer of the Local Community Services Association NSW (LCSA) which is the State organization for Neighbourhood Centres with around 175 members. I also serve on the Board of East Coast Accessibility Experts, a service that retrofits the homes of ageing people and people with disabilities to enable them to maintain their independence.  All this work is voluntary, having left my paid position of Community Development Coordinator at Lifetime Connect last year, after 12 years.  Lifetime Connect is a medium sized local community organization providing a range of services and community activities for children, families, aged people, and people with disabilities, including managing our neighbourhood centre.

Briefly summarize your background.

I grew up in Melbourne as the eldest of a family of 8 children. I have 5 sisters. I moved to North Queensland to study Marine Biology in Townsville where I became attracted to youth work after volunteering at a new local service working with unemployed young boys. I was offered a job, and commenced working as a youthworker in 1979.

Following this, I worked in community arts as a facilitator of participatory arts activities moving to Sydney in 1984 where I promoted cultural activities and community engagement across NSW.  I undertook some consulting and research work for various government agencies around the country and eventually settled in the region where I now live and work more than 30 years ago.

I have worked in various community, local and regional roles across aged and disability services and advocacy but my true passion is for community development and neighbourhood centres.

Describe what you do for LCSA and Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre.

My work is to provide governance support to a local centre, assist the manager and to budget and plan as well as provide support for grant applications and strategic planning.  I carry out the same roles for the other organisations that I work with.  More recently I was involved in establishing a local community organization to look at the housing affordability crisis by developing local and community solutions with local government.  All my work is centered around advocating and supporting community engagement to generate community led solutions to wicked problems.

Alongside the magnificent team at LCSA I was also involved in the hosting of the 2021 IFS Conference that was held virtually in September.  I helped to draft the IFS Declaration on Social Justice.

What are your hopes for the future of the IFS and the Settlement Movement in general?

I hope that IFS can become a stronger advocate for social justice and human rights by building a stronger voice for the work of our members around the world. We are at the fore in addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the ground in our local communities which is where the real change needs to occur and become embedded.  We have a lot of work to do to address inequality both within and between countries. I want to help secure more resources to do this.

IFS can become an even stronger voice for positive change by engaging with more of our allies and participating in international forums and processes to promote our work in developing communities and strengthening democracy.

I have high hopes for our emerging IFS Asia network.