Talk to Scout.org: Cathy Morcom, National General Manager, Scouts Australia
Kuala Lumpur - Cathy Morcom became the first woman to take the top job at Scouts Australia when she was made National General Manager last June.
Morcom joined Scouting after two decades in some of the world's top multinationals, and is leading
Scouts Australia through a transformation that is intended to empower 100,000 young people to be change-makers in their community by 2020. There are currently 70,000 Scouts in Australia and girls have been able to join since the 1970s.
We spoke to Morcom to mark International Women's Day.
1: You took up your position last year and joined the Scouts at the same time. What appealed to you about the job, especially when you hadn't been a Scout as a child?
I was keen to take a break from the corporate environment, having worked across four continents for over 20 years. When the role came up, it felt like I could really give something back to society and, given my three children are youth members and my husband and I are volunteers in the Movement, we already had a great connection with Scouts Australia. My children gain so much from Scouting - from being taken out of their comfort zone, to the development of team and leadership skills, to developing a high degree of resilience, and having lots of fun outdoors.
2: How important do you think it is for girls and young women in Scouting to see a woman in the top post?
It is 2018 and, given we have over 30% of our members being female, it is a privilege and an honour to be the first female National General Manager of Scouts Australia. I aspire to be a great role-model for our female youth members and adult supporters, and to work collaboratively with them, listen to their needs and concerns, and make a real difference in what is a traditional environment. We are also working with our branches and members to develop a Diversity and Inclusion Policy based on guidance from the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and our region. I look forward to a move towards higher numbers of female youth members and adult supporters in the very short term.
3: You are the first woman to lead Scouting Australia in its more than 100 year history. How has it been so far?
It has been a complete whirlwind, incredibly busy, challenging and exciting - all at once!
Scouts Australia is undergoing a transformation. The most comprehensive review of the organisation's 110 year history was undertaken from 2013 to 2017. Since 2017, Scouts Australia (has been) implementing strategies to keep Scouting relevant and engaging for generations of young Australians.
As mentioned, we still operate in a fairly traditional environment and it is essential that we continue our journey towards Youth Leading - Adult Supporting, with a higher degree of focus on developing female leaders. I don't think Scouts Australia would have been ready for a female National General Manager before now and I must say I have been made very welcome and very much feel I have a voice and am able to influence what we do, how we do it and how we can do even better.
4: What is the biggest challenge facing Scouting in Australia right now, and what are your priorities for the organisation?
We face many challenges, not least to keep ourselves up-to-date and relevant in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) where we strive to offer a compelling service offering to the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow.
"The Purpose and Mission of Australian Scouting: - Scouting provides young Australians, of all ages, gender, and ability, with challenging and adventurous opportunities so they may grow and develop in the five areas of personal growth outlined in the Purpose of Scouting".
We continue to strive to work together, to a shared higher purpose, as one team under one brand.
Over the past year, Scouts Australia has made significant progress in formalising our policies for keeping Scouting safe. In November 2016, the National Scouts Australia Child Protection Policy was launched. While branches have had policies for many years, this policy sets a national standard for the whole of Scouts Australia. Leading Australian child protection organisation, Childwise, had significant input ensuring that our policy meets the highest possible standards. Child-safe Scouting is our priority and we will continue to work towards becoming an industry leader in this vital area. Our New Youth Programme, which is incredibly exciting, will if we get it right, help us meet our vision : -
Through shared values, by 2023 Scouting will be the leading youth development movement in Australia, empowering 100,000 young people to be resilient, self-fulfilled positive change makers in their community.
The new youth programme is well and truly under development and going through a parallel test and learn process. We have up to 100 "pioneer groups" across Australia who will work with our various youth programme teams, councils and committees to finesse our new content, resources and materials as we fast approach its soft launch at the Australian Jamboree (AJ2019) in January next year.
5: Children and young people are leading increasingly sedentary lives. What can Scouting offer them?
The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. We remember the five developmental areas mentioned in the purpose using the acronym "SPICES". A sixth letter, the letter 'C', is added to mean 'Character'. A person's character development can be thought of as the sum of their development in the other five areas.
6: Scouting is working with international organisations including WWF and UN Environment, giving young people the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Australian Scouts are among the most enthusiastic supporters of events like Clean Up Australia, which took place earlier this month. Tell us more about how the Movement in Australia is helping create a better world.
We are a leader in all sorts of initiatives across quite a few events including Clean Up Australia, which is linked to our Promise and Law, and our youth members take great pride in their involvement in this particular initiative. Our movement is also becoming much more actively involved with other like-minded organisations such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award with whom we now have a national level Memorandum of Understanding, and we are in discussion with the Girl Guides of Australia and other organisations as well. We are trying to create a better world by holding ourselves accountable to comply with our Codes of Conduct and Ethics and our Adults in Scouting Policy. We are absolutely passionate about the concept of Youth Leading, Adult Supporting.
7: What's the most memorable thing that's happened to you or your children in Scouting?
I have so many examples - but I suppose my fondest memory is the day I was invested with my son, Emmet, when he (became) a Cub Scout. My son, Rafe, managed to be sick at a recent District Camp competition dinner, and on my daughter's Grey Wolf walk, there were a number of ant bites and some of our seasoned leaders were almost crying more than the Cubs. Meanwhile, my husband is a section leader and he now has 45 youth members in this section and has reached a full complement for the Australian Jamboree in South Australia in January 2019.