Notes from DOSA Discussion 22nd April

26 Apr

DOSA – Strategic Planning meeting

Sunday 22nd April 2012, from sometime between 2.30 and 3pmish until sometime after 5pmish


  • Ramin (LaTrobe Alumni, Iran)
  • Minnie (RMIT, Mainland China)
  • Tonje (LaTrobe, Norway)
  • Anh (LaTrobe, Vietnam)
  • Alice (Monash, Taiwan)
  • Meredith (Project Worker, Australia)
  • Richard (NMIT, Ireland)

This meeting was held in lieu of a scheduled theatre workshop at the request of the students – “Let’s talk about how we can rebuild DOSA”. It started with a brief brainstorming exercise suggested by Meredith followed by a 2 hour discussion (spontaneously) chaired by Ramin.

During this meeting we discussed:

  • Strategic goals
  • Risks and how we can deal with them
  • Communications / promotions

These notes were taken by Meredith. The italicised notes were thoughts inserted after the meeting.

Strategic goals:

1. Sustainability / continuity of DOSA – how does DOSA keep going after the DOSA Capacity Building Project finishes in September (project worker leaves, lack of funding)

2. Who runs DOSA? – although numbers are too small to warrant it now, down the track DOSA will need some sort of “central structure” (Tonje) to organise itself around. As the number of volunteers who run DOSA grow, more care and organisation will be needed to coordinate them. A couple of students suggested that DOSA may need some sort of committee.

Meredith’s note: The Capacity Building Project exists in order to help DOSA investigate this and then work with students to help them form a committee that serves their needs.

3. What is DOSA? What is DOSA’s mission? It can’t be all things to all people. It’s OK to not to know this right now but maybe DOSA should make it a goal to dedicate some time and focus on exploring this question.

Meredith’s note: I was the one who brought this up, and I got the impression that the other people didn’t see it as important as I did.

Richard commented that what DOSA is, is a place for overseas students to go, pure and simple.

Risks and Risk Management

This part of the meeting was initiated when one of the students suggested that we list all the problems or things that could stop DOSA from continuing, and then think of ways we can deal with these.

Risk / Problem / Challenge What can be done about it
People leaving:

  • Most overseas students return home after their studies, e.g. we are losing Tonje in a couple of months (Meredith: groan)
  • Meredith will be leaving after the funding for her pay finishes in September (Meredith: groan); (Meredith: actually I would be very happy to volunteer some time to help DOSA after September if I’m wanted, but I won’t be able to dedicate the 18+ hours per week I am doing now)
Recruit and train up more volunteers before the current ones leave
Bad planning – setting inappropriate goals for DOSA and its volunteers to achieve
  • Ownership of DOSA by overseas students
  • Leadership / organisational skills training for student leaders
  • Promoting DOSA to attract participants and, from amongst these, recruit volunteers.

Bad planning can be prevented by student leaders running DOSA, but for us to get these student leaders they have to turn up to DOSA events first, and for us to get them to turn up we need to promote DOSA better (Richard’s line of thought?)

Low attendance
  • Better promotions
  • Create a really friendly vibe at Ozone Lounge (although it’s hard to create a friendly vibe of you lack people) (Meredith: Ramin and Tonje go all out to create that friendly vibe; but it’s not just up to them – we definitely need more people. HOWEVER numbers are slowly starting to build – we are doing so much better than the month before and then the month before that).
  • Offering food at Drop In sessions (this is linked to how much funding we have)
  • Programming events to attract people (Meredith: already underway)
    • Lacking or losing support of other organisations.
    • Difficulty in finding appropriate partners:
 a) Not keeping our promises

b) Not maintaining contact or not following up (this is a risk considering the time constraints we are operating under right now)

c) Disappointing or not living up to other people’s expectations.





We actually feel that we’re doing well with this right now – we are getting some good support from some other organisations.

“relationship management” (Meredith) – not taking your supporters for granted and consciously doing what you can to keep your friendships healthy, e.g. networking, showing appreciation from time to time (Meredith: showing support by going to their events or helping to promote them; in a more formal relationship – say that with a funding body – making sure you do all your paperwork properly).

Recruiting enough volunteers so we have enough people available to invest some time into managing relationships.

(Meredith: Even though this is not the worst risk for us right now, I’m glad that we have considered it as forming relationships with ‘buddy’ organisations is a really important thing that can help DOSA, especially after September).

(Meredith: Suggestion – let’s make a list / table of all of the partners we have; all of the organisations that we are talking to that could become partners; all of the organisations that we would like to be partners with. We could include contact details. This would be a good database to create by the end of September to leave for the volunteers who will be running DOSA).

Not getting enough time to do everything we need to / lack of volunteers Improve promotions so we can recruit more volunteers
Meredith: I don’t know why, but I had this written down but forgot to bring it up:

Lack of funding

Recruit more volunteers, train them in grant writing and fund raising


Meredith: it would be good if we could look at each risk and decide:

a) how likely it is to happen

b) how much damage it will do once it does happen


We decided to list the communications / promotional resources or tools that we have or can develop:

  • DOSA blog
  • DIVRS web page (Meredith: )
  • Old Council web page
  • Facebook page
  • Other organisation’s email newsletters (e.g. LaTrobe University’s Internews)
  • Our own email bulletin
  • Promotional events
  • Our own website
  • Fliers / posters
  • Media, including student publications
  • Community Legal Centre window display
  • Promotional video
  • Meredith: posters / signage in Northland Youth centre windows; 2 large DOSA banners.

Some discussion was given to DOSA’s website, which is about to start being built. Our preferred domain name – – has already been taken and its current owner refuses to sell it. Ramin has registered another name – – and asked for feedback at the meeting. The consensus was that this could lead to confusion as most people could see this as a mistake. Suggestions were made as to how to get around it (including registering another name altogether). A popular suggestion was writing ‘this is not a mistake’ next to the web address on our fliers – that it could be a fun and quirky thing to do.

Meredith: I think the web name needs a lot of thought still.

I also think that we need to design an overall strategy for promotions instead of going at it piecemeal in a panic. As much as we are desperate for numbers, there is an old saying – less haste, more speed. We can’t allow low numbers to panic us into planning badly or rushing through important decisions.

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