We have some long-term employees here at Belconnen Community Service (BCS), but not many have been with us as long as My Links manager, Graham McKerchar. Graham has been part of the BCS Transport program for almost three decades and has seen it evolve over the years. We caught up with him and found out just how much it has changed.
How long have you been working at BCS?
I have been at BCS for 26 years as a permanent employee and I was a volunteer for around nine months prior to that. My first part-time role was as a community transport driver. I’ve actually been connected to transport the entire time I’ve been here. I started as a driver, back in the day when we had one car on the road and we were doing about 4000 trips a year. In those days we didn’t have computer software programs for transport coordination so everything was done through an old ledger book. We would take phone calls, write them into the book and then transfer them from the book onto a hand written schedule, so not quite slate and chalk days, but almost. Now we have eight cars on the road and do around 45,000 passenger trips a year.
Everybody here at BCS is amazing. I am privileged to work with an awesome team of people every day; they are really committed. And the volunteers are too. They give up their time to the programs; we couldn’t do it without them. The passion everyone shows for the community is one of the things we can pride ourselves on.
What roles have you held over the years?
I really loved the driving. For me it was about the connection with the people we provided transport for; I loved hearing their stories. After becoming a full-time driver, I was offered an opportunity to come into the office and do some office coordination. I was a little reluctant and wasn’t really thinking about office work because I loved the driving. But I said ‘yes, I’ll come in and do a couple of days a week, but I want a guarantee that if I don’t like the office work I can go back out on the road in a full-time role’. Those two days became three days, and then three days became five days.
The transport coordinator role was also responsible for volunteer recruitment. I enjoyed working with the volunteers as well and bringing them into our programs and watching them develop and support the community transport program. Then the opportunity to become a program manager arose and here I am, 26 years later, managing the largest community transport program in the ACT. I’ve seen the journey from small beginnings with one car operating just in the Belconnen area, and we’re now ACT wide.
What did you do before coming to BCS?
I’ve done a fair bit of different work over the years. I’m from New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1983. I started as a bank teller with the National Bank in New Zealand many moons ago. I’ve worked in menswear, as a floor sander, I’ve done night fill, I’ve worked in a kiwi fruit orchard; a variety of things. Certainly nothing the length of what I’ve done here at BCS.
What do you enjoy about working at BCS?
There’s a real sense of pride in what we deliver every day. We know the difference having access to transport makes for people. It helps them connect to their community, connect to each other. We’ve had some fantastic stories about people reconnecting in our community bus. Once, a couple of people joined our bus lunch tours and they used to be good friends back in the UK but had lost contact with each other. It turns out they had both moved to Canberra and reconnected on the tour. That was just brilliant to hear.
The connections we see in transport every day are the main highlights for me. I’ve seen some pretty amazing people go through this organisation and made some great friends here at work. The development of our program has been another big highlight. Looking at where we were and where we are now. The difference the program makes for people is amazing. I got to spend some time with governor general Quentin Bryce at an expo we organised at BCS. The commencement of the 10/10 project is another highlight. We have been running the project for seven years. It has been an opportunity to step outside of what we do in our daily lives and make a difference in the Belconnen community. There are just so many highlights. It’s impossible to list them all!
I love what I do. There is not a day that goes by I don’t wake up excited to go to work. I could still be out there driving a car quite happily, but the opportunities BCS has given me to grow as a person and as an employee – you couldn’t ask for a better workplace.
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