A Role With A Different VIEW
Robyn Garard has been with VIEW for more than 20 years in various roles, helping raise funds for The Smith Family’s Learning for Life educational program to assist disadvantaged kids across Australia.
When you first meet Robyn Garard, you can tell she has a caring nature that is utilised and directed towards helping others. So, it’s no surprise that she has now spent more than 20 years of her life as part of the VIEW Club (VIEW stands for the Voice, Interests and Education of Women). Robyn is a national councillor for VIEW, overseeing 14 clubs in the Brisbane area and liaising with head office, as well as connecting with The Smith Family. VIEW women fully support The Smith Family’s Learning for Life educational program, which gives disadvantaged Australian children the step up they need through education to achieve their goals as adults and help break the poverty cycle.
“Last year VIEW donated more than $1.3 million to The Smith Family. We have nearly 300 clubs Australia-wide so that’s quite an achievement...”
Robyn, who resides in Murrumba Downs, is a member of Redcliffe VIEW Club with Pine Rivers her second club. But her national councillor role takes her across a large part of south east Queensland and of course interstate as required. It’s a far cry from how she first joined VIEW.
“It’s hard to believe it’s 21 years for me this year,” Robyn says. “I first knew about VIEW about 50 years ago when I lived in Sydney, because I worked with a friend who was in a local VIEW club.
“It was a daytime club and I worked, so it was a bit hard for me to actually join. But in those days, they used to have dinner dances where they’d involve husbands as well, so we were able to go along to some of the functions.
“But when I moved to Queensland, it was by chance that I bumped into a lady at a nursery in Deception Bay who told me she had just moved from Tasmania and asked if I knew what grew well here. I told her I was in the same boat having just moved here from Sydney. We exchanged details and she also mentioned that she had joined a VIEW club to make friends and meet new people. So, that’s how I started with it here in Queensland, even after knowing about it all those years ago.”
Robyn was on a VIEW committee for about eight years, spent two years as a zone councillor and then made her way on to the national council and into her role as a national councillor. It may keep her busy, but Robyn wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I find it so interesting and particularly in my position, I get to go to the Queensland Smith Family's state conference and listen to them talk about everything they’re doing and what’s happening with The Smith Family,” Robyn says. “It’s a great opportunity to hear about what they’re achieving and you learn so much.”
When it comes to The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, Robyn has enjoyed seeing the difference it makes for students around Australia.
“I think at the moment they have about 63,500 Learning for Life students across Australia,” Robyn says. “And by the end of June, they’re hoping to have another 3500 on the program. The five-year goal is to reach 100,000 students and with each student also having access to the internet and all the equipment they need for their schooling. At the moment with that 63,500 students, there's probably only about 25% or so that do.
“The Smith Family have a number of programs underway to cover the different aspects including the digital side, catch up learning related to Covid and now a growing careers program where they supply students from year eight through to 12 with the ability to have a mentor in their chosen field.”
All VIEW clubs raise money to help support students. The 14 clubs that Robyn liaises with support more than 145 students.
“So, as VIEW clubs, we have functions and do things like raffles to raise money and that goes into our fundraising for the students,” Robyn says. “Last year VIEW donated more than $1.3 million to The Smith Family. We have nearly 300 clubs Australia-wide so that’s quite an achievement and it’s nice to know that we can do that to support kids who are in a situation that they have no control over themselves.”
Along with being a part of making a difference in young student’s lives, Robyn has also relished the opportunity to make lifelong friendships and keep herself busy in retirement. While Robyn loves her role with VIEW, she’s also made the decision to scale back at the end of this year.
“I’ll be 79 in March next year and I think it’s time to step back a bit and do a few other things that I really want to do,” Robyn says. “So, I'll finish this role at the end of the year. I could have continued on for another two years, but I think I’ve done enough.
“I’ll still be part of VIEW Club and The Smith Family is starting a virtual volunteering program where you can help out from home with things behind the scenes. I’m not one to sit around and do nothing, so I’ll definitely still be contributing.
“Plus, a close friend and I are looking to travel around Australia and see places we’ve never been before. I really want to head out to western Queensland and visit Longreach and Winton. It’s been on my list of things to do for some time now.”
Robyn is proud of the progress she’s seen with VIEW in the time she has spent with them. They are gradually moving further north in Queensland and opened two new clubs last year in Mackay and Bundaberg, with plans to expand to Gladstone as well.
“The first VIEW club in Queensland started on the Gold Coast and then moved into Brisbane,” she says. “In my area, I cover out towards Ipswich and down to Logan, as well as the north side of Brisbane.We also have several clubs on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and extend out to Warwick.
“So the idea is wherever The Smith Family is, we like to have clubs because they have their partnership schools which they do the Learning for Life program with.
“Our students that we raise money for are in the partnership schools, so wherever there's a Smith Family office, we are looking to have a VIEW club as well.”
If you are interested in joining or finding out more about your nearest VIEW Club, visit view.org.au.