I’ve been working in community services in Tasmania since 1985; some of you will know me or know about me already. I thought it would be useful to give you a snapshot of three experiences that have influenced how I’ll approach my role as Reform Project Officer.
1) In my ‘first job’ in the community sector, I was lucky enough to work alongside a group of people committed to building a better service. One of our initiatives was to have an ‘open house’ every Friday afternoon, where people with lived experiences of our services talked with us about their experiences and about what they would do differently if they ran the service. Their ideas have remained with me since….
2) When I was managing a therapeutic residential care service for young people referred by Child Safety, I was asked by the team to come and ‘read the riot act’ to one of the young people who was concerning workers with some of his aggressive behaviours. I’m not good with ‘riot act’ approaches – and didn’t think it would work anyway; so instead I started the conversation by saying to the young person that people were worried about a few things; I thought it was best to find out first of all what was going on for him and what he thought needed to change so that life felt better for him. What I heard from that young person most of all that day was that he appreciated me meeting with him and, in his words, listening with your whole body to his challenges, hopes and worries….
3) In my most recent role with Child Safety ( in Out of Home Care), I was always keen to take every opportunity to sit with and listen to kinship and foster carers to hear their concerns and of their experiences as carers. It led me to wondering about what it would take for carers to form their own organization that provided support for carers….
There’s a theme of wanting to listen to the voices of people that we often don’t pay much attention to in the ways we provide services. If we don’t do that, we miss out always on hearing from people with the most expertise in their own lives; we miss out on making use of their lived experiences to work together to improve things.
So I’m looking forward very much to listening to and working with you to help establish an independent organization of people with lived experience of the AOD sector. Let’s keep in touch!
Reform Project Officer