Lara Silbert: Full circle change making

Finding her path in the social impact sector

In a family where social issues were frequent dinner table conversations, the importance of social impact values were passed down to Lara from a young age.

“My parents were both very active in community organisations when I was growing up, and taught me that making a positive difference in the world is more than a nice-to-have,” says Lara.

“Working in the private sector for the first decade of my career, I really longed to be able to find a way to turn my work into my 'life's work' but didn't really know how.

The social impact course has really given me the knowledge, tools and networks to do just that!”

Time for a career change

After becoming a sole parent and wanting a career change, Lara returned to university to follow her passion.

“I met so many inspiring people at CSI UWA and learned frameworks that I’m now using every day in my job. Thanks to the Aboriginal-led, Danjoo Koorliny project team at UWA, I've also learned the limitations to those frameworks and not to think of them as a 'single source of truth’,” says Lara.

“I particularly loved the Leadership for Social Impact unit that was really transformative in my own personal journey; and Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation really helped me explore what change making means outside of a traditional charitable model.”

Lara went on to complete an MBA in Social Impact.

“I've found so much relevance and excitement even in topics I thought would be dry. From studying economics, I've gained a passion for gender economics and equity economics, and from finance and accounting, I've gained a passion for impact investment and an understanding of how important it is to allocate resources effectively for impact and to avoid 'scope creep'.

"The breadth of different areas you're exposed to both in the Graduate Certificate and MBA means I've discovered so many new interests and really grown as a person,” says Lara.

Inspiring work in Social Impact

After working at Constable Care and for the United Nations Association of Australia, Western Australia division, Lara was engaged by Noongar Mia Mia .

“I really love working with an organisation that's largely led by Aboriginal women. It's a really great space that brings out the best in all its staff and clients. I love listening to and working closely with cultural experts. I mostly prepare grants and tenders, and I'm really happy that my particular skill set has been useful in helping 'wadjelas' like myself think outside a certain shared frame of reference and question social constructs.

"As someone who lived in three countries by the time I was 13, and didn't grow up with any aunts, uncles or cousins; it really warms my heart to see big strong families, and that cultural centrality of caring for mob and Country,” says Lara.

With her MBA course work completed, Lara’s next step is to complete a Certificate in Professional Fundraising through the Fundraising Institute of Australia.

Lara is also now on the Lived Experience Reference Group of the Naala Djookan Healing Centre and hopes to find more ways to get involved in the domestic violence and disability sectors.

“As an autistic woman with disability and anxiety, who is also a survivor of domestic violence, I have quite a bit of insight from my own lived experiences, and I'm very interested in the intersection of disability and DV for women.

"I also realise how very privileged I am to have had a 'soft landing' compared to many other single mothers - particularly, having the family and financial support to be able to go back to university in the first place, have a rewarding career and make a difference!”

Inspiring her daughter through her work, Lara is now coming full circle.

“I love that through my work, I've been able to inspire my daughter and set an example of how to be a 'mensch' (Yiddish for 'a person of integrity'). She's so proud of what her mummy does!”