At a crossroads
When Siavash Manouchehrpour was trying to decide on a career, he was torn between two paths: law and social work. He had a great insight into life as a lawyer – his father had been one for 40 years. But Siavash also felt a strong calling to humanitarian work, where he could support people in crisis and need.
In the end, Siavash chose law. He completed his law degree in Iran, where he was born and raised. Then, in 2014, when Siavash was 25, he moved to Australia to complete his Juris Doctor postgraduate degree. It was an enormous cultural shift, but Siavash took it in his stride, and worked as an immigration paralegal throughout his time at uni.
“When I became a solicitor, I did a lot of pro bono asylum seeker cases, which meant I regularly visited detention centres,” Siavash says. “That’s where I got to see all the social workers helping refugees. It was more hands-on than law, more based on human relationships. It reignited my interest in that area. So, I decided to make the shift and jump sectors.”
Siavash researched various humanitarian organisations. He was drawn to The Benevolent Society for its five core values of integrity, respect, collaboration, effectiveness, and optimism.
“The Benevolent Society really impressed me. It’s been providing support services to Australians for more than 200 years, so as the oldest charity in Australia, I could see the impact it had made. I remember watching one of the videos on its website about a case worker and. I thought to myself, ‘This is an organisation I want to be a part of.’”
In 2017, Siavash joined us as a Community Services Consultant. Within 11 months, he became a Team Leader. Then, in 2019, he was promoted again -– this time, to Manager of our National Support Centre. It’s a role he passionately fulfils to this day.
“When I first started at The Benevolent Society, I wanted to learn everything I could about this sector. And there was a lot to learn! It was challenging at times, but I had great people to assist me. I was blown away by how supportive and inclusive the work culture was. Any time I had a question, there was always someone I could go to for help.”
Supporting those who support others
Leading five teams (with a total of 50 people), Siavash works hard to support our National Support Centre staff. These solutions-focused teams are the first point of contact for all our callers and clients, connecting them with our services and programs, as well as external providers.
“The people in our Support Centre are on the frontline,” Siavash says. “It’s an incredibly important role. They’re often helping people at their most vulnerable. It’s my responsibility to ensure our teams can work in an environment where their wellbeing is optimised. I know that the more support I give to our teams, the more support they can give to others.”
It’s clear that Siavash has an enormous well of respect for our National Support Centre team -– and they respect him in return.
“Every day, I am genuinely amazed by the outcomes my staff achieve for their clients. Their level of patience and understanding astounds me. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of work, but when I step back and see the incredible work being achieved, it’s all the reason I need to do what I do. We are truly making a difference to people’s lives.”
Since moving to Australia, Siavash has coped with significant changes and challenges. But he has always emerged stronger than before. He looks forward to continuing his journey with The Benevolent Society, and we are so grateful to have him with us.
“I’ve met so many knowledgeable, passionate, and kind people here. They’ve made such an impact on my life. I want to keep exploring ways I can better serve my staff and provide them with a positive environment. I hope we can all learn and grow together, and have some fun, too!”