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Hugh Van Cuylenburg

Farewell to Hugh van Cuylenburg

Hugh van Cuylenburg has been involved with Step Back Think (SBT) for four years. After being an invaluable member of the board, Hugh took on the role of CEO in 2013. Hugh has been instrumental in creating a clear and bold vision for the organisation and his passion, energy and leadership skills have helped grow the organisation and raise its profile and reputation.

It is with a very heavy heart that Hugh is leaving SBT to focus on his organisation, The Resilience Project. We chatted to Hugh, asking him to reflect on his time as CEO of SBT.

Why was it that you became involved with SBT?

I got involved with SBT initially because James MB was one of my brother’s best friends and I saw the impact the whole situation had on him and his group of friends. Also, whenever I ventured out I would witness incidents of violence all over the place. What happened to James was a harsh reality for many young people. I thought that with my background in education I could make a difference in helping to create a cultural change in this area.

What were your most significant achievements as CEO?

I’d like to think that during my time in the role of CEO we were able to become more professional as an organisation. We went from one part-time employee to having six staff members. I feel that we were able to create our key pillars of education, awareness and research, which have given us direction and clarity in all the decisions we make and all the programs that we run.

Favourite moments?

I have many highlights. Whenever I visit James, it is very special because it’s a reminder that the work we do is so very important.

Beyond that other highlights have been watching the staff members do what they do, and do it really well. Watching Ben talking at schools is really special, seeing what Miriam was able to do with the summer campaign, seeing the great work that Coco has put together in the area of research and seeing the preparation going into the Lace Up campaign- out staff make me very proud.

Where do you see SBT in 10 years?

I strongly believe that in 10-15 years we will have created a cultural change where social violence is no longer acceptable. And I’d like to think that people will see SBT as being a key player in that cultural shift.

What’s next for you?

I would have loved to of continued working in the role with SBT. It will be very hard to move away, however when the Labor government decided not to continue supporting SBT, my immediate recommendation to the board was that the CEO role had to become a full time position to ensure we could secure other funding options.  With my work at The Resilience Project already being a full time commitment, it was unrealistic to think that I could perform both roles. SBT is headed in a very exciting direction. I would like to thank the former chairman, Dan Cronin, for the opportunity to lead this fine organisation. I wish SBT all the best for the future.