I’m very passionate about helping children thrive in their life and become the best versions of themselves. Family dynamics are one of the primary sources of security or stress in people’s lives.
I’m a grandparent myself, raising my own grandchild, and I’m very aware of the challenges these kinds of dynamics can create.  I understand the complexities around them.
I initiated court proceedings a few years back to provide some protection and stability for my Grandson.  I thought it was only going to be for a year, but he is now 11 years old and has been with me since he was 5.
My personal and professional development have assisted me to help clients.  I find that I can walk with my clients where they are at, without judgement and with understanding.
I can relate to a lot of the chaotic and traumatic circumstances that affect a lot of the client’s that I see.
My youngest son was diagnosed with Severe Development Verbal Dyspraxia at age 4. This was the start of a long road, navigating various complex systems, as an informal Carer.  Though I had no concept of this back then.
My son could not verbalise his needs, he had behaviour issues as a result, and the school environment was unfortunately a traumatic experience for both of us.
I felt isolated, emotionally and psychologically exhausted, and I worried about losing my job as I would often need to leave work to attend the school over an issue. 
I applied for some community funding, and started a parent support group, one night per week at a local community centre, and later with the help of another parent/child educator, started a Not-for-profit organisation, called Alex’ House; supporting families of children with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and other Learning needs.
Unfortunately, Alex’s House had to close, as I wasn’t experienced enough in grant writing at the time, and I needed a regular income to support myself and the children.  I had no time to keep working voluntarily at Alex’s House.
I don’t have family who live on the Central Coast, so it was difficult at times caring for children.  we barely received any support back then for my youngest child’s additional needs. 
Occasionally I will reflect on this pathway that led me to my current role.  It wasn’t an easy journey; it has been quite a painful story.  Although, I feel it’s important to look back as a reminder of just how far I have come and the barriers that I was able to overcome and the strengths that I hold.
When I was finally free of a DV situation that almost cost me my life, I started out on a journey to get a job – any job.  I was raising three children at the time.  I started working at a gym and was able to take my kids with me on the weekends, which made it easier.  I then moved onto a hotel job where I cleaned rooms while my kids were at school. 
During that time, I studied Real Estate at Tafe three nights a week.  It was extremely challenging to juggle study, work and raising three kids, but at the age of 33 I felt I had a lot of catching up to do.
I thought property was my pathway, but soon found out it did not align with my values. I would make a habit of highlighting to clients the interest and repayments they would be agreeing to, so they were fully aware of what the commitment was. 
One day my manager pulled me aside and said, “you can just brush over that stuff, you don’t need to highlight it too much to them”.  I said no, no I can't do that, I need to make sure they know what they are getting into.
In the end I left that job and worked in odd jobs, at nursing homes, cleaning etc.  The same day I went back to working at the hotel, I worked with a lady who was 40, she was leaning over making a bed and she told me how her back was hurting. 
I made the decision then and there to pursue a career in Community and Welfare.  I didn’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life.
I contacted Gosford Tafe and they said the Community Services course had already started.  I begged her to give me a go – and she did.  I worked really hard and was able to stay in the course.  I went into full time study for 2 years and did my certificate and diploma.  After working at a bowling club for a stint, I landed a job in Mental Health. 
I worked in Mental Health for about 10 years.  Looking back, I’m so glad I had that experience of working in that area.
During that time, I took up further study at university.  I was so nervous about entering into that environment and how I would handle it.  It certainly had its challenges along the way, but I didn’t quit.
The lady on administration at the place I was working, sent me a job advertisement for Interrelate and said “this is right up your ally, this is you, this is all about working with kids and Family Law”.  So, I applied.  Even though it was only a contracted position, I took the risk.  I got the job, and here I am today, and I absolutely love it. 
To any young woman looking to step into a management or leadership position I would say; Absolutely believe in yourself. 
I would say look to the women in leadership that you admire and what you can learn from them.  We can all learn from each other.  There is not just one way do to do something.  It’s important to have self-awareness, to know what strengths you’re bringing to the table and know where your limitations are and where you may need further development.  
I had the opportunity to mentor a University student and found this really rewarding.  I was able to learn a lot from her as well.
When people on your team are doing well, clap really loud for them. Most importantly, believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support.  No one expects you to have all the answers.