People with Purpose: Hutch Hussein is in the house

Posted on 16 Apr 2024

By Greg Thom, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Hutch Hussein 2

After more than a quarter of a century working tirelessly to improve the lives of disadvantaged people, former political adviser Hutch Hussein is using her skills as an MC to connect fundraisers with their audiences.

Tell us a little bit about your background in the not-for-profit sector.

Social work trained, over the past 25-plus years, I have worked with at-risk young people, family violence survivors and people from refugee, migrant and asylum seeker backgrounds across Melbourne.

In both paid and voluntary roles, I have progressed gender equality, better settlement outcomes for newly arrived refugee communities, and greater cross-cultural responsiveness through training and policy advocacy to improve the lives of people facing disadvantage.

This has involved working at Anglicare, EMILY’s List, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre and the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) and I am currently on the Our Watch board, which leads violence prevention nationally.

Prior to working in the NFP sector, I worked as a policy adviser to a former Victorian Minister for Education and Women’s Affairs and with Joan Kirner to establish the Victorian Honour Roll of Women during the State Government’s Centenary of Federation celebrations.

[Joan Kirner] used to send me faxes at 1am in the worst handwriting I’ve ever seen – it took many people hours to decipher, guessing one word at a time. I’m glad the world has moved to email and that she did too, thanks to [Our Community group managing director] Denis Moriarty sorting her with an iPad in her later years!

Hutch Hussein with former Premier of Victoria Joan Kirner.

What lessons did you learn during that time?

So many things!

  • The importance of being resourceful as well as ensuring we put value on the work we do in budgets for funders
  • How we’d be lost without the contribution of amazingly dedicated volunteers who bring so much more than their time
  • Getting government to put value on the knowledge of those with lived experience, not just academic knowledge.The importance of bringing people with you during times of change management.

What's your philosophy when it comes to volunteering?

I’m someone who is passionate about social justice, who cares about the community they live in and seeks to leave the world a better place for the next generation.

To me it’s not about complaining about things you don’t like in the community, but actually putting your hand up and trying to partner with others to achieve a solution. You always get more out than what you put in, plus you make some new friends as a bonus.

In my local community, I’ve established a Rainbow Families group, a Voice referendum campaign group that’s now transitioned to a Reconciliation Group, I’ve just concluded two terms on my son’s school council and I currently serve on the board of Dyslexia Support Victoria. I also mentor young women interested in politics in my spare time.

Vote Yes 2023 1 323 Panel Corrina speaking
Hutch Hussein steers a panel discussion during the Voice referendum campaign.
"I believe we should show up, stand up, step up and speak up to contribute to a better world, so I particularly enjoy being part of events which call on each of us to reflect on our role to ensure a more equitable society."

How would you describe your current role?

My day job at the Brotherhood of St Lawrence involves government relations.

However, after much encouragement from colleagues and friends who've seen me do it in a volunteer capacity for 25 years, my new role is being an MC, host, facilitator or moderator for predominantly evening but occasional day gigs.

I aim to draw out insights and bring out the best in an event’s panellists to ensure a thought-provoking experience. As an MC, I aim to ensure an event has momentum, maximises active participation from guests and audiences, and leaves people thinking deeply about the topic or just having fun, even if the topic has been dry or serious.

I believe we should show up, stand up, step up and speak up to contribute to a better world, so I particularly enjoy being part of events which call on each of us to reflect on our role to ensure a more equitable society.

How important is it for fundraisers to connect with their audience to be successful?

It’s really important for the MC to promptly build rapport with the audience so that they are engaged, entertained and energised.

That rapport then comes in handy when appealing for the maximum number of bids in things like an auction, so the event is a fundraising success if that’s part of its aim.

You can find out more about my MC services at my website or on Instagram, or email me at [email protected].

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