By Lauren Hermon
A school Christmas play in the 1960s was Geoff Blackwood’s first experience with South Australian not-for-profit disability services organisation, Barkuma.
It’s hard to believe the five-year-old acting as one of the Three Wise Men would decades later become Barkuma‘s chief executive.
“I had many school friends with siblings who were being assisted by Barkuma… and whether it involved acting in a school Christmas play or completing a high school work placement with them in the 1970s, I’ve always been associated with Barkuma in some way,” says Geoff.
“It’s now wonderful to be working for them,” he adds.
Barkuma was recently awarded South Australian Charity of the Year at the recent Telstra South Australian Business Awards, making it the first time a charity award was presented in its 24 year history.
“One of the great things about this award is, we really are part of a long flight of other organisations working to have people with disabilities equally recognised,” he says.
Barkuma will join other State and Territory category winners at the national 2016 Telstra Australian Business Awards in Sydney on Friday, August 26.
Watch Barkuma accept the 2016 Telstra South Australian Charity Award
Geoff and the rest of his team is “humbled” to represent the State.
“One of the great things about South Australia’s disability sector is the majority of us know one another.
“If you need assistance, other disability organisations are only a phone call away and we know we have groups we can rely on.”Never “straying far” from the disability sector, Geoff has worked in the field since he was 16.
“It has always been a giving sector; something that is worthwhile.. and we feel honoured that, as a not-for-profit charitable organisation that grew out of the notion from several parents in the 60s, has now been recognised for the great work it’s doing… we’re part of that living, breathing group that really do care about people.”
Nearly 50 years ago, 10 parents of children with an intellectual disability in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, successfully lobbied for the establishment of Barkuma – a school, kindergarten and workshop, which provides services to promote inclusion in the community.
Supporting more than 700 people and employing 150, Barkuma is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘to aid’.
Barkuma is a Brand South Australia member.
Geoff Blackwood is pictured left with some of the Barkuma team in the main headline image