My name is Judy Warrell and I started volunteering in 1979 for Community Aid Abroad [CAA]. I found out about the volunteering opportunity through an ad in the CAA Review, which I received quarterly due to my being in the Waverley CAA Group. The ad promised complete job satisfaction, great conditions, but of course – no pay! I knew of some of the work that CAA were doing in India at the time and I really felt that CAA was making a difference.
When I started, CAA was based on Brunswick Street in an old terrace house that we shared with the Brotherhood of St Laurence. At that time there were only 12 staff. My role was to provide secretarial, bookkeeping and administration assistance to Neil O’Sullivan who was the program director at the time. They sat me in front of an old electric typewriter (these were the days before computers) and Neil used to joke with me and say that I typed so fast he could see sparks coming out of the machine! While I was working for Neil, I remember one time he came back from India and wanted me to type up a report he had put together. Well, I did this and he kept changing his mind on how he wanted the report to look. I literally had to cut and paste sections of the report into other areas. It was very time consuming.
One of my most memorable moments and achievements at CAA was organising Graham Romanes’ farewell. Graham was such a lovely person, and had an incredibly strong sense of humanity. I wanted to ensure that his farewell would be something he would remember forever so I arranged to put him on “trial” for his inhumanity! I asked fellow co-workers to get up as “witnesses” to prove his humanity and it was amazing to hear everyone speak about all the work Graham had done and his achievements. After all the “witnesses” had spoken, the judge ruled that Graham had failed inhumanity, which of course meant that he was humane after all! Another part of Graham’s farewell was everyone signing the song I’d put together called “Working with Graham” which was to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.