QCOSS member profile - Alan Le May

The Smith Family is a national independent children’s charity that has existed in Australia since the 1920’s.

Queensland’s branch of The Smith Family is headed up by General Manager, Alan Le May who describes the organisation as, “a national child sponsorship organisation that supports disadvantaged children by helping them succeed at school.”

Alan joined the organisation in 2014 and he has 25 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector. It was his lived experience as a troubled youth that led him to want to help others.

The Smith Family’s vision is to provide a better future for young Australians in need.

The organisation enables, "Improving school attendance; Year 12 completion and post-school engagement in work and study of disadvantaged young Australians.”

Alan's vision is to work with state and federal government to ensure that all children have equal access to education.

But isn’t education free in Australia?

“Ask any parent with a child at a public school and they will tell you that the costs of sending children to public schools in Australia is increasing. The costs of uniforms, stationery, computers and an internet connection is becoming too much for many families. Furthermore, we now are seeing parents invoiced for building fund contributions, excursions, sporting events and other activities. And whilst extra activities provide wonderful experiences, for some families the cost is just too great.

"The outcome is that children from disadvantaged families are forced to miss out on these activities, are ostracised from their friends and ultimately, they do not feel part of their peer group or simply don’t attend school at all.”

And this is why the work of The Smith Family is so important.

Alan will tell you that he is driven by the fact that the cause of his work is important and because he believes that the outcome is achievable.

“The evidence of our success and the difference it makes in the lives of individual children and young people are my primary drivers,” he says.

Now that Alan is a leader in his field he relishes in helping others develop to their full potential.

“Apart from being engaged in a very worthwhile cause, the management of a team is something that I truly enjoy and am committed to doing very well. The relationships I have developed with team members and seeing them develop into high performing staff is one of the best parts of the job.”