A full-time professional finds time to help out for a worthy cause.
Novita Halim does not exactly fall into the usual mould of the novice philanthropist, but it’s not something that seems to bother her greatly.
She’s 35, of Indonesian descent and a CPA as well credentials that distinguish her from most of the volunteers she works with, who tend to be either students or pensioners retired from active work.
“At Lifeline I find I’m pretty much the only one working at a full-time job, nor have I met too many people like me qualified tax accountants, that is,” she laughs. Halim has spent the past year volunteering for Lifeline, one of Australia’s most prominent charities, which has been set up to help people in crisis situations or those experiencing emotional difficulties.
She is involved with packaging and pricing books at Lifeline’s regular book fairs. The job does not place her at the centre of the charity’s crisis-counselling activities nor tax her accountancy skills. But she was reassured when she heard that the most recent book fair raised just under A$900,000.
Halim cannot explain why she wants to give back, but just feels the need to do more than give money. Her impulse towards philanthropy may have something to do with the opportunities she has been given in a new country. She felt it was incumbent on her to do something in return.
“Initially I felt a need to help poorer people, those who have been left behind, but in the end it’s about giving to anyone in need and the people who need Lifeline are definitely in need,” she says.
In the end it’s about giving to anyone in need. Novita Halim
She migrated to Australia in 1996, and now describes herself as “thoroughly Aussie”. She calls Brisbane home, where she works as a business services accountant for the mid-sized chartered accountancy firm Hogg Lawson.
She spent her first two years in Australia in Sydney as an international student before moving north to subtropical Brisbane to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Griffith University. It was there, incidentally, where she met her husband, Alex, and it seemed like the place to settle.
“The weather in Brisbane is a lot more like where I come from, Jakarta,” she says.
Halim does not regret that the work she does for Lifeline as well as the time she spends as a volunteer for the Brisbane International Film Festival has not allowed her to use the full range of her skills as a CPA . She has offered those abilities to several charities, but the problem lies in the timing.
Not-for-profit organisations tend to need someone either full-time or for a few days during the week.
“It’s just impossible for me to work during the week,” she says. “The work I do as a business tax accountant does not allow it."