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The Southern Cross : April 2012
Page 18 April 2012 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross | news He's only been in the job six weeks but the new Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent de Paul society, Mr David Wark, is already inspired by the army of volunteers he and his team serves. "The depth of passion, the devotion of volunteers and staff to the mission, is extraordinary," he said. "The generosity of thousands of people to serve the poor and marginalised is, any way you look at it, inspiring and I am honoured to be in the position I am." The former Double Blues footballer and Norwood Football Club General Manager said passion in footy tended to be about winning and losing then getting on with the next week. "This is not a short-term win or lose scenario, there are always people in need and the game never ends," he said. "I think the passion runs deeper." Mr Wark replaced John Haren as Chief Executive Officer of the Society in February this year after two years with Novita Children's Services. One of his first tasks was to help launch a new recruitment pack for volunteers in recognition of the need to reach out to the broader community and give people a meaningful role to play in the organisation. Vinnies has over 700 people working in conferences around the State and 1400 volunteers involved in community programs and Family Centres. It is the largest volunteer-based organisation in Australia and, quite possibly the world. So it's not surprising that Mr Wark believes the staff exist primarily to support the volunteers. Mr Wark said his awareness of the Society went back to his school days at Rostrevor College and added that his mother had been involved since "I wouldn't like to say how long". His vision for the organisation is that of Frederic Ozanam himself: "You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis: You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of long term improvement." He said the challenges would be "balancing the increasing demand for our services (which in some areas has tripled in the past 12 months), staying true to our mission and generating the funds to meet this demand". Mr Wark spent seven years as a physical education teacher at St Paul's College before becoming a partner in Executive Fitness Management (EFM) which he helped develop here and in Brisbane for six years. After seven years at Norwood he was appointed by the AFL to run its competition in Canberra where he lived for two years. On his return Mr Wark worked for Flinders Partners where he was involved in commercialising academic research in the sports sector and was then approached to join Novita. He and his wife Suzanne have three young children, two of whom attend St Thomas School, Goodwood. Chair of the Society, Mr Dominic Lagana, said David brought an excellent mix of commercial and not-for-profit experience to the role, as well as an astute appreciation of the challenges we face as an organisation. "He has been with the Society for just over six weeks and has embraced the opportunity to meet and engage with many of our members and volunteers," he said. "I look forward to working collaboratively with David in leading the Society through a significant period of change and renewal." Inspired to serve NEW GOAL: Former Norwood Football Club General Manager David Wark is focusing on recruiting and supporting volunteers and raising much-needed funds as CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society. Whether you live in Adelaide, Sydney, Darwin, Hobart or anywhere in between, you would be aware that there is a major struggle playing itself out before us. That struggle is over what will be the future definition of marriage under our Federal legislation. On the one hand there are those that argue marriage is a cultural construct that does not have an inherent nature. Therefore, the argument goes, it can and should be redefined from being a relationship between a man and a woman to that of two adults, thus accommodating the desires of homosexual couples who wish to marry. This stands in contrast to those, including myself, who believe marriage in and of itself has a fixed nature i.e. intrinsically the marriage relationship involves a man and a woman. Across cultures, reaching back as far as anyone can trace, this has been the case. And the key reason why, as Australian bioethicist Margaret Somerville has observed? Because marriage is the social institution that both symbolises and protects the inherently reproductive relationship that exists between a man and a woman, thereby establishing children's human rights regarding their biological origins and the family structure in which they are reared. As with so many fellow Australians I see this as far more than an adult centred debate over the asserted right by same-sex couples to have their love recognised. The debate embraces far more than this. At the heart of it is the way in which we, as a society, want to frame and promote the idea of family into the future. Do we want to uncouple those biological ties that bind a child to her or his mother and father and substitute it with something else? Something else that could, following the logic of the argument, be changed again in the future to meet the claimed emotional needs of adults. So what must be done? At the moment Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are examining proposed bills that if enacted and passed into law, would change the definition of marriage. The change would be from a relationship between a man and a woman to two adults. All up there are three separate bills that are being sponsored to bring this about, one in the Senate and two in the House of Representatives. It is likely that one or more of these bills will be debated and voted on in the second half of this year. Exactly when, nobody can be sure. Committees from both the Senate and the House of Representatives are inquiring into the bills. These inquiries are calling for submissions on the bills. Submissions to the Senate inquiry close on April 2, 2012. Submissions to the House of Representatives inquiry close on April 20, 2012. The House of Representatives inquiry, in addition to submissions, includes an online survey that is completed via the inquiry webpage. Submissions can be made electronically or may be mailed to the respective Senate and House of Representative Committees. Access to the two inquiry webpages is obtained by visiting the Parliament of Australia website www.aph.gov.au. I urge in the strongest possible terms for everybody to get involved. No matter where you live in Australia, young or old, access to a computer or not; have your say. You do not have to write long, detailed submissions. Short, concise submissions are very valuable. Both inquiries are important so submissions should be made to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And don't forget to complete the House of Representatives online survey. It is no exaggeration that we in Australia are approaching a fork in the road on this very important matter. There is no inevitable path that this issue will necessarily proceed down. Same-sex marriage, despite the popular rhetoric, is not inevitable. If every person who believes the definition of marriage should not be altered made the effort to participate in the current inquiries and speak to their federal Member of Parliament and Senators about the views they hold, the current threat to the definition of marriage would be defeated. If that does not happen, those proposing the change may get their way. It is time to act now. Involve as many likeminded people as you can. The future of marriage depends on all of us working together. Get your submissions and completed survey in today. Greg Donnelly Labor MLC New South Wales Parliament Protect marriage -- act now