“Well who wants to read my story?” That was my first reaction when asked to contribute to a book about women’s courage, resilience, and overcoming life’s challenges.

I love writing and word-smithing. In my career as a social worker, CEO and leader, writing has been important for research, advocacy and securing funding. I have contributed to a number of books. However to write my own story and use a personal voice (rather than a professional one) was a whole other daunting challenge.

I started channelling Brene Brown (the famous social worker!) and her research on vulnerability and living whole heartedly. Then with coaching from Business in Heels, as well as the ever present encouragement of my wonderful husband Robert, here it is, my story in …..Rise Above, Beyond Ordinary.

Back at the Beginning is about child vulnerability and the responsibilities of adults, and about how my life and career have been shaped by my early years.

It is a story told to inspire hope and belief that we can all make a difference for others, especially for children.

From the kindness of teachers, social workers and strangers, together with opportunities to learn and succeed, I was empowered to have a family and a career.

“Jackie” is the name I gave to a girl who’s story is merged with others to represent the children who motivated my Churchill Fellowship. Jackie features in my 1990 report about  Preventing the Abuse of Children in Substitute Care. She represents many children who’s stories were not told until the 2004 The Forgotten Australian’s report about Australians who experienced institutional or out of home care as children. The flood of stories of betrayed and abused children shocked the community. The exposure of exploitation and abuse of children continues today with the most recent involving junior football.

It is incredibly difficult for children to speak up when they are vulnerable. How can their voices be heard when they are too scared to speak?  Jackie makes that really clear. Adults need to pay close and caring attention.

I believe it is our responsibility to ensure parents can and are caring for their children, and to provide the best possible support and resources when more assistance is needed.

Caring for vulnerable children has had little recognition during the COVID pandemic. Nor has there been much recognition for the thousands of social workers and carers who daily continue to keep harmed children safe, seeking to help them to grow and thrive. They are also “essential workers”.

We know that community investing in caring for vulnerable children, in every aspect of their development, provides substantial returns. The social and economic case has been well documented and argued.

Every time a child is moved, homes and carers also change. They too go Back to the Beginning searching for love, belonging, safety and security. We have the evidence and need the resources to do better.

I hope you will feel inspired to read more. Here is the link to purchase Rise Above. I would love to hear your feedback as I wonder how my readers will respond?  Please let me know.

Stay safe and well, and thank you for reading.


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