The importance of contributing to the community

An authentic insight into Melinda Fleming's story

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Melinda Fleming, mostly known as Mel was born and grew up in Sydney, a child of the 70’s. Her adult life has been spent mostly in Brisbane which is where she call home.

Mel told me that her passion is for people, they matter the most to her. She believes all people should have the opportunity and resources to live well and to reach their individual potential.

Mel has worked in the community sector for the last 20 years. It is where she feels at home and receive daily inspiration. She has been blessed with the privilege of working for many years alongside people of all ages who live with marginalisation or disadvantage for whatever reason, or those just simply facing the challenges of life.

Mel started her career journey in this field as a volunteer and went on to spend many years working in a local and growing community organisation. It was there that she learned so much about the helping profession and herself. Mel also developed another passion along the way, for the concept of leadership. Opportunities since then have included working in the disability sector with children. This was a role that took her far from home and gave her eye opening rural and remote experiences in the Northern Territory.

Mel’s current role is leading another locally based organisation in north Brisbane that supports people living with disability. Community Access Respite Services is one of those organisations where people truly belong. It’s ethos and principles are grounded in integrity and focused on assisting people to live their most amazing lives. It is a great place to be.

On a more personal note, Mel’s life is lit up with 4 beautiful grandchildren. Those who have grandchildren will know the feeling of pure delight they bring to your world. At this time, she loves their hugs, innocence and curiosity.

1. Humble Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?

It was after having my three wonderful children that I decided to pursue a career in the field of human services, the helping professions.

I define my career as really progressing when I was given a management opportunity. That’s where my understanding and love of leadership grew. I learnt about my capabilities and had some great mentors who believed in my ability. The idea that I could play a part in the transformation and development of others was something that excited me.

My inspiration has come along the way (and that continues). So many wise humans have influenced my thinking, my belief in self and reminded me to exercise self-reflection and continually improve the person I am.

Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?

Starting out, I really believe I bumbled my way through. I think it was a case of drawing from childhood experiences of success. I was fortunate to enter adulthood with a healthy degree of confidence and determination. Whilst I have never been one to set lofty and precise goals, I have always looked ahead with excitement and anticipation. Having a plan, whether written down or adopted in mind, has always helped.

2. Mindset

Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?

Above all, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. This most likely means I didn’t do much that was different from anyone else who is willing to learn from life’s lessons. I have always been willing to try new things, and to think laterally about what is possible. I have been quite prepared to admit to myself that I don’t possess all the answers. I still don’t today and will say this often. I believe that being real and open about our human qualities means acknowledging both our strengths and vulnerabilities.

3. What is your definition of success?

I certainly don’t measure success by an assets position, or by the amount of money I earn. The NFP sector is not the most lucrative! I think success is defined by a sense of achievement. That sense of achievement varies from person to person and I like that those smaller achievements can often be the most significant.

I think success happens when people are willing to transform themselves in some way, to grow and to change with the intention of being a better human being.

I measure success in my life when I feel I have an abundance of something. By abundance, I don’t mean an overflowing cup or that I have more than I could ever want or need. Abundance to me is having ‘enough’.

4. Failure

Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?

I wouldn’t so much refer to it as ‘failure’ but instead view each experience which didn’t go as planned as a chance to learn – about others, about the world and about myself.

I think it is great to have clarity about where we are headed in life and a solid roadmap. Just as importantly, we need to expect the road ahead to have all the twists, turns, bumps, potholes and dust, as well as the smooth ride. The unplanned events need to happen so that our resilience is tested and has the opportunity to develop within us. For me, welcoming the journey of ups and downs is a prerequisite to having a vision.

There have been many times in my life when my plan has gone astray, and I have learnt to pick myself up, dust off and try something else. It is the times when I have been prepared to find another option and to change things up that have given me the most valuable lessons.

5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?

Can I share a few?!

My Dad was a quiet and gentle influence in my life, and he taught me to consider my words carefully. He didn’t say a lot, but when he did it was important, often profound and well informed. I think that has carried me well.

I would say, be curious. Curiosity doesn’t actually kill the cat! Ponder often, question and challenge your mind to wonder about the possibilities. Allow and embrace those left field ideas to emerge. It is ok that they don’t become an immediate reality.

Be values aware – know what your own set of values are, and be led by them. Understand what makes you tick and what inspires you. Find your own way of articulating that, to yourself most importantly. Remind yourself of those values often and use them to make good decisions. I recently heard a values based speech on leadership and took a phrase from that which really resonated – ‘integrity doesn’t equal perfection.’ What I love about this is that it embraces the imperfection of human beings while recognising the desire for most to live their lives with integrity.

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to share and to view Mel’s amazing work, visit

To read more amazing stories or to view my work, visit

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