With over 25 years spent in different roles at the frontline of family safety, Angela has been part of the many changes pioneered by Child Protection to stand up for children at risk
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Lena has experienced many roles in her time at Child Protection and finds the diversity and challenges involved in advocating for child safety to be exciting and rewarding
After moving to Australia from India, via the UK, Santhosh found regional Victoria to be the ideal location and environment for him to help vulnerable children and their families
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After 13 years working for Telstra in sales, operations and admin roles, James wanted to make a meaningful contribution to social change. “In corporate life I was noticing the gap between the privilege of people at the top and many of those on the frontline,” he says. “I saw a lot of vulnerable people around me.” He wanted to help the most vulnerable of all: children.
Combining his fulltime work with fulltime study, he completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree with Deakin University. The workload was intense, but he graduated after four years with honours. James even used his holiday leave while at Telstra to undertake placement in Child Protection offices in the regions.
Now, almost a year as a Child Protection Practitioner, he’s more certain than ever it was worth it. “Young children are the most vulnerable people in our society, and if we can protect those vulnerable lives, I can’t think of anything else that’s more important, for me.”
As the mother to a 21-year-old son, Angela appreciates the flexibility of a career at Child Protection. “The department are very supportive of maternity leave. I took just under a year, but other colleagues have taken longer. It isn’t nine to five; it can be worked around your family and personal needs.”
Angela has been with Child Protection for over 25 years, having moved up through levels of management to her current role as Practice Leader, Family-led Decision-making Convenor. She works closely with children and their families, as well as various professional services, to safeguard the state’s most vulnerable youngsters. And although the work is often challenging, she’s never considered doing anything else.
Career development has been another big draw for her. “There’s such a broad range of opportunity for professional development, training and education. Today I could be meeting with court, doctors, mental health services, education facilitators, myriad professionals all coming together to talk about the best interests of a child. This gives you an opportunity to see into other areas and to bring your own skills in and expand on them.”
Before she became a Child Protection Practitioner, Claudia was in a very different world. In her native Colombia, she was a stock trader and financial analyst for seven years. She felt unfulfilled and wanted a career with more meaning and compassion for others.
After coming to Australia, Claudia and her husband set up a foundation to support foreign students. “(It) contributed to the original passion I had to change the world to be a fairer place to live in,” she said. It led Claudia to consider a career in Child Protection. The more she discovered, the more she realised it would help her make a difference to the world, and offer her ways to progress her career and grow as a professional.
The University of Melbourne recognised Claudia’s prior learning and granted her credit towards a Bachelor in Psychology. Over the next year, she completed a Postgraduate in Psychology, followed by 12 months for Postgraduate honours.
As a new Child Protection Practitioner, Claudia appreciates the mentoring and development programs, “The support at DHHS is amazing!” And she enjoys the diversity of her role, “Every day is different. Every report, every family, every case, requires a different risk assessments. You would never get bored and you never stop learning.”
It was in a child development and trauma lecture during Jessica’s second year of her Masters that she made the decision that would change her life, and the lives of many Victorian children and families. “I realised then and there that I needed to be in a role where I could protect and support children in the community that didn't have a voice.”
After completing her Masters, Jessica joined McKillop Family Services as a Residential Care Worker working with high-risk adolescents, before applying to become a Child Protection Practitioner. She credits the support and supervision from her team and Senior Practitioners as helping her to thrive in her new fast-paced and challenging environment. Jessica also took on additional training to work with culturally and linguistically diverse families, people affected by drug and alcohol use, child development and trauma, applied suicide training and families affected by sexual abuse. This development helped her progress to her current Advanced Child Protection Practitioner role.
Today, Jessica is part of a specialist Child Protection team collaborating closely with Victoria Police, Corrections Victoria and other community services to ensure safety for vulnerable children and young people. As she says, “I feel extremely lucky to be a Child Protection Practitioner!”