Brotherhood Executive Director's message on building better lives

05 May 2012

The daily hardships of disadvantaged people rarely make the evening news. The quiet but critical stories of families going without are not as interesting as celebrity excess. Job-seekers trying yet again to find employment come behind reports of a Cabinet reshuffle, young people coping with dental problems so painful they can’t work doesn’t compete with a sporting hero’s latest win. The loneliness of the aged, disabled and their carers is always eclipsed by a major event.

Brotherhood CEO Tony Nicholson

It is in the Brotherhood’s Building better lives newsletter that disadvantaged people make the front page.

In Building better lives we read of the human side of what good quality services can achieve for those in need. These are accounts that demonstrate why social policies matter: that at the end of all the theories, consultations, commissions, policy rewrites and parliamentary bills are real people having to face lives that are harder than they have to be, every day.

The Brotherhood’s news is of solutions being developed with and for those in need, of services successfully delivered and received, and of people making the best use they can of opportunities offered to them. These are stories we need you to read and share with others. They are there because they prove that disadvantaged people can, with assistance, resolve the issues surrounding them. They are stories that prove that poverty – and its potentially devastating effects – is not inevitable.

When you read Building better lives please look between the lines for stories of tragedies prevented. Imagine you are watching the evening news. The camera is focussed on a quiet family home: some parents and their small children arrive back from playing in the park.  To your surprise the presenter says,

‘We now cross to a Melbourne suburb where a tragedy didn’t happen. This home could have been a scene of a terrible heartbreak caused by a prolonged period of financial hardship, a lost job, chronic health problems and social isolation. It appears that the excellent support services and active social advocacy of organisations like the Brotherhood of St Laurence have prevented this family’s despair from compounding. Of course, this empty airspace is awkward for us. We will be back after this break for sport and weather.'

If only the TV presenter would say this! Our newsletter Building better lives is therefore much more important than it may otherwise appear. To look at human struggles as events that can be managed and resolved may not make the news, but it does make good news and it does make our news in Building better lives. 

If you are interested in going on our mailing list to receive a hardcopy of our newsletter, please email donate(at)

Yours sincerely,

Tony Nicholson

Chief Executive Officer

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes