Angie Paskevicius – Holyoake

Member of TEC 41, Chaired by Lyn HardingCase Study Alister Haigh
Perth, Western Australia

Angie Paskevicius - HolyoakeAs the leader of an organisation aimed at making positive changes in people’s lives, Angie Paskevicius knows all about bringing the best out of those around her.

It’s a philosophy she is required to enact on a daily basis, as the CEO of alcohol and drug counselling organisation Holyoake. Founded almost four decades ago in 1975, Holyoake remains one of Australia’s leading addiction rehabilitation, treatment and support providers, making a direct and lasting impact on around 6,500 people every year.

The role that Holyoake plays in the wellbeing of Australian society cannot be understated, as it’s not just those with an addiction that it assists. Given the stress and pain that families can suffer, as well the burden on the government and the nation as a whole, it is a deep-rooted issue that can permeate the entire fabric of society.

‘The impact of alcohol and drugs is an alarming social concern across Australia,’ says Angie.

‘The public cost of coping with [alcohol addiction] is enormous. A 2011 report from the Drug & Alcohol Office estimates that the government spends over $15 billion a year to manage the impact of excessive alcohol consumption. In effect, we are all impacted by this social issue.’

So how does Holyoake seek to bring about change? The organisation takes an incredibly innovative approach to healing and treatment, which is evidenced in the range of unique initiatives it delivers. One of its flagship programs is Wellbeing@Work, which offers a suite of corporate wellness programs that address wellbeing, stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms in the workplace

Perhaps its most recognisable initiative, however, is DRUMBEAT, which fosters social interaction and personal healing through the power of music and rhythm. Its use in a wide spectrum of settings – from schools, prisons and mental health to aged care and corporate team building – is testament to the immense versatility and adaptability of the program.

Angie and Holyoake are well aware of the role music can play in bringing about positive change. In fact, Angie is quick to point to a musical analogy when asked about her leadership philosophy. She cites the famous Thomas D. Bailey quote – that ‘conductors of great symphony orchestras do not play every musical instrument; yet through leadership, the ultimate production is an expressive and unified combination of tones’.

‘To me, a leader is like the conductor of an orchestra who makes sure that all the right instruments are in place and that they are playing the right notes at the right time,’ she explains.

‘Good leaders are also aware of who they are, what’s important to them and what matters most. I believe leadership is about who you are, not what you do.’

There’s no doubt that Angie has had to call on these principles numerous times when guiding Holyoake through its most challenging times. As a non-profit organisation, securing the funding to provide its services is a perennial battle for Holyoake.

‘Sustainable funding continues to be a major challenge across the not-for-profit sector,’ Angie says. However, she notes with pride that since her appointment, she has been able to lead Holyoake on ‘a journey of growth and development towards long term financial sustainability’.

‘Today we are well placed financially with a range of revenue streams from various sources, which includes revenue from two successful social enterprises, one of which operates internationally.’

Angie also attributes a lot of her success – both personal and on a business level with Holyoake – to her 10 years of TEC membership. She says she has gained equally immense value from the guest speakers she has listened to and the peers in her TEC group.

‘The diverse background, experience and support from my colleagues, the invaluable insights from high-quality speakers and the strong guidance of my chair have all contributed to making me the confident leader that I am today,’ she says.

She also appreciates that TEC members are given the opportunity to let their hair down and have fun at times too, such as at the TEC retreat to Rottnest Island she recently attended.

‘Spending time together as a group of TEC members, along with partners, in a social setting, is always a powerful way to strengthen relationships – and have some fun together at the same time!’ she says.

The raft of awards that Holyoake and its various programs have picked up are testament to the tangible change the organisation continues to bring. For example, DRUMBEAT has been recognised by both the Constable Care Child Safety Awards and the Healthier WA Award, while Wellbeing@Work was recently a finalist for the ICCWA Injury Prevention and Safety Excellence Award.

‘This recognition values the inherent benefits of our programs, which help raise awareness about substance misuse and promote self-responsibility in workplaces,’ adds Angie.

For almost 40 years, Holyoake has been helping change thousands of lives across Australia for the better – and under the able stewardship of Angie, it looks set to continue for some time yet.

In 2015, Angie was named as the Telstra Western Australian Business Woman of the Year and awarded the Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

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