Gathering of Kindness Project

Kevin’s Question: Reg, can you begin by telling us about progress on Rotary Melbourne’s Kindness Partnership with the Hush Foundation.

Reg’s Response:

Thanks Kevin. The partnership began formally in October last year with the signing of a partnership agreement. The project has been enthusiastically embraced by the Arts Committee, which sees it as a further opportunity to bring the Arts into the mainstream of humanitarian service.

The Kindness project team has several enthusiastic Rotary Melbourne members: Peter Berg, Dorothy Gilmour, Maryla Juchnowski, and Graham O’Donnell. Progress has been most satisfying so far.

  • In November, the planets aligned in a Government House event on World Kindness Day hosted by Victorian Governor, Linda Dessau recognising the contribution of the Hush Foundation’s Gathering of Kindness program in front of health care leaders from across Victoria. We were delighted that Rotary featured in the event, and Past RI President, Ravi Ravindran, District 9800’s DG-train and Melbourne Rotarians were present.

  • President Kevin and Cath Crock have already written to the Governor suggesting a larger, community celebration of World Kindness Day at Government House on 13 November 2020.

  • Rotary Melbourne’s successful Christmas event featuring Harpist Clare Patti raised nearly $3,000 to help fund planned activities.

  • The project team met in mid-January with Professor Cath Crock and her team to start developing a detailed action plan.  We agreed that it is not Rotary’s job to tell professional staff in health and age-care that they need to be kinder in their workplace cultures.  Rather Rotary’s soft advocacy will creatively use the arts to make it safe to talk about the need for greater kindness in care workplaces.

This has resulted in:

  • Maryla Juchnowski beginning work with the Hush team on creating a toolbox of project ideas that can be used by Rotary Clubs to create and support Kindness events in their local community;
  • Graham O’Donnell will be working with the Deakin Freelancing Hub to showcase the Rotary Hush GoK Partnership on the Rotary 100 Downunder Web site;
  • Investigating the best way to measure the impact of the project as activity builds over the next few years;
  • Promoting speaker opportunities and project ideas with Rotary Clubs across Victoria;
  • Creating video content or case-play scripts to illustrate a variety of kindness 'incidents' that are common in care
  • We are hoping to interest some amateur theatre companies to embrace and produce;
  • Dorothy Gilmour is bringing her learnings from Rotary Safe Families to the project to help model a suitable education process.

Reg stressed that the research based evidence shows that greater kindness between staff in care institutions has a measurable impact on healthcare outcomes.

To summarise, the vision for this project is to help the Hush Foundation to extend its reach, in Victoria and Nationally, through Rotary’s community connection.  It is a low-cost investment with the potential to dramatically improve
the effectiveness of health and age-care services. It is Not a search for unkind people.

We have a strong Rotary Melbourne team focusing on deploying arts performances to start safe conversations about developing kinder workplaces.

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