From public service to 'public service'

It takes a particular type of person to find working with the underprivileged inspiring.

Murrumbateman resident Paul Trezise is one of them.

The chief executive officer of St Vincent de Paul’s Canberra/Goulburn region quit his public service job and returned from an overseas trip with a fresh perspective of where he should be focusing his talents.

He wanted to help people less fortunate.

He now heads up 26 Vinnies centres in the region, and about 50 parish conferences (volunteer groups).

He started in March this year after a lengthy period working as a surveyor. It was a radical change going from satellite remote sensing at Geoscience Australia.

“It was quite a big change. When I came to Canberra in 1982 I was looking to do other things. So I got involved in [volunteer] work at a… refuge for women and children. I found that really rewarding.”

He volunteered for the next eight years before heading overseas. Upon his return he was ready for a career change that would take his altruism to another level.

“So when I was looking for something that was… a job perhaps more directly helping people, naturally I thought about Vinnies because of the positive experience that I’d had there.

“It was an eye-opener for me, working at a refuge in Canberra - you think it’s an affluent city but you get to see behind the scenes that there are people who are really struggling.

“When you come across it first hand… it’s quite confronting but also quite inspiring that you can do things to make the lives of these people better.”

He said there would be a lot of people struggling at the moment but those in regional centres like Yass were less likely to have the services available to those in cities.

“And that’s part of our job, to help these people or connect them to someone that can.”

He said issues for people in Yass included the struggle to pay power bills and utilities, other financial stresses and mental health issues triggered by isolation or relationship breakdown.

He has been impressed with the number of recent retirees who have offered to assist in Yass. He said it took a persistent and non-judgmental person to work in this industry.

“You have to have a positive outlook because some of the things you see are quite challenging and are long-term to fix.

“You need to be persistent and have strong motivation to help people.You need to be very non-judgmental and have an open mind.”

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