by Dr. Aida Morden
There is a growing concern over the downward direction that the Philippine Community Council of NSW is heading. Last year, several affiliates announced their decision not to renew their membership. A threat of litigation widened the gap of animosity between the already divided officers. Finally, one recent editorial painted a bleak picture of the future of this longest running Filipino organisation that claims to be the peak or umbrella organisation of Filipino groups in New South Wales.
In a recent brainstorming organised by a community leader who had in the last two years witnessed the dynamics of relationships between PCC officers, two major points were identified as the causes of this alleged degeneration of PCC. One was the lack of committed, skilled and united leadership. The other one was the confused functions that PCC has been performing as a peak body. In the past many years, PCC has been undertaking basically two major functions. These are: fund raising for calamity victims in the Philippines and holding of Philippine Independence Ball. One is a welfare function, the other a celebratory function. Note that these two events are also performed by almost all Filipino groups including the affiliates of PCC. As a peak body, PCC not only duplicates but competes with its members.
Revamping PCC as a Peak Body will have to begin with educating its leaders. In order to lead, the leaders must understand the role of the peak body, its purposes and functions.
The Australian Industry Commission has defined the peak body as ‘a non-government organisation whose membership consists of smaller organisations of allied interests. The peak body thus offers a strong voice for the specific community sector in the areas of advocacy, lobbying government, community education and information sharing between member groups and interested parties. The Commission identified five main functions of a peak body. They are: information and dissemination services, membership support, coordination, advocacy and representation and research and policy development.
It is obvious that the claimed degeneration of PCC is fundamentally related to its failure to function as a peak or umbrella organisation. It has become only one of the numerous groups selling tickets for dances, fiestas, concerts and fund raising. It has not supported its members, acted as coordinator of Filipino activities and most importantly, PCC has not advocated and represented the interests of its members and the Filipino community. The only advocacy that the group is raging regarding Filipino Seniors has not seen the light at the end of the tunnel for some five or six years now.
Revamping PCC means that its leaders need to direct the activities of the group perform the five major functions of a peak body. Only then can it proclaim with certainty and pride that indeed it is the peak body of the Filipino community.