Denver D'Cruz - 30th Anniversary Reflections
Denver is the General Manager for Inclusion Solutions. Community connection is something he lives and breathes. His background is Public Relations/Communications, Sports Management and Marketing Communications. Since 1999, he’s been working in the community sector, blending his passion for sport, recreation and community with a heavy involvement in supporting people of marginalised identities.
Why are you so passionate about this work?
I have ZERO doubt that this work has saved lives, improved lives, strengthened and improved communities, given a voice to people without one and promoted inclusion as a key agenda item for community leaders.
How do you put a price on the quality of life of an individual improved? How can you attribute the true benefit to a community of saving a club or community group who continue to offer opportunities for the local residents? How do you place a price on the change in attitudes of people who act as the gatekeepers of their community?
Can you explain the breaking away of Inclusion Solutions from Inclusion WA?
A lot has changed over the past 9 years. When I started, it was just myself. We’d have one or two projects at a time usually and it was quite seasonal. We decided to separate to allow us to broader our horizons – to work with an impact a wider range of people. Inclusion WA specifically works one-to-one alongside people with disability, and this limited us to working with just one marginalised group. We became a separate organisation in 2017, and the impact has been tremendous. We’ve gone from a team of 3 under Inclusion WA to a team of 10 within a few short years, we are now engaged with projects across Australia and are working with some international entities, such as Manchester United. Both of whom, ultimately support the greater mission!
What’s the focus of Inclusion Solutions now?
We’ve changed what we do a lot. We are far more involved in offering meaningful support to clubs, community groups, Local Government Association’s and whole communities now. We are also advocating for a broad range of people, not just people with disabilities, which was the primary focus going back to 2010-11. We now have a team of people supporting Australian communities to be more inclusive and welcoming. This happens through training, mentoring, through framework development and by actually solving existing gaps and issues that communities themselves identify!
What are you most proud of?
In no particular order;
- Being part of the transition to Inclusion Solutions, navigating a particularly difficult economic climate and coming out better placed and stronger at the other end
- Helping community members to live a better life in their local communities
- Supporting communities to take ownership and be more inclusive
- Recruiting some of the best people I can think of for this important work and watching them grow
- Helping change the way we operate to ensure we are flexible and in touch with community needs
- Launching many new projects, including a partnership with Cricket Australia as well as the Wayfairer Project – a project changing the lives of mature aged adults
What’s your ultimate vision?
I wish for us to revert back to a style of life that supports individual purpose, connection and a strong sense of belonging. I think we have done all we can to remove or reduce the essence of life and the fact that we are less-connected personally, have less friends than ever before and are lonelier than ever before speaks volumes. So, my hope is for us all to connect more in person and walk away from anything that creates a divide – physically, functionally and socially.
I look forward to seeing what the future holds, Inclusion WA, Inclusion Solutions, Personal Assistants WA and for each and every staff member that is lucky enough to be a custodian of what I genuinely believe is the greatest organisation in Australia. We have maintained that ‘family feel’ throughout our expansion. We have also enabled growth (with purpose) and not lost sight of the two most important things to any organisation – relationships and purpose. We have also maintained a nucleus of staff and we have a great retention rate with many key staff having been around for 5, 10 and 15 years in some cases!
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