STRONGER TOGETHER: Becoming comfortable in vulnerability

You are here: mental health
Last updated:
04/05/2021

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya talks about friendship, vulnerability, and how it connects to our overall wellbeing.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

I recently sat down with one of our Cooee participants to discuss how she was finding the group, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy and fulfillment as she opened up about her experience.

Cooee is an arts and crafts group for women who are living with a mental health condition or have a NDIS plan.

The ladies meet twice a week to make everything from pot plants and dream catchers to paper lanterns and hot meals, and plenty in between.

But it became overwhelmingly clear during this conversation that it wasn’t the crafts these ladies came for; it was each other.

Each story this woman told came back to togetherness.

To friendship. To healing.

Research shows that when we use our hands on a task that doesn’t demand much cognitive capacity, it gives the mind a chance to relax.

As our hands busy themselves, the cogs in our brains get a break from everyday thinking, and this is when we start processing less demanding tasks.

“The Breakout Principle” suggests that when we engage in a repetitive task, completely taking our minds off the issues we have been struggling with, the solution will often appear.

The Cooee program provides this for our participants, because we’re in the business of improving lives.

These women have overcome various personal hurdles, and the thing they credit most is the time spent with others, sharing a coffee, and being able to voice whatever might be on their mind.

A safe space; a listening ear; an understanding nod.

I started to think how, in our own busy lives, we often overlook that cup of coffee at a friend’s place.

In a world where many strive for perfection, or the appearance of perfection, I wondered if perhaps we had forgotten how to be vulnerable, and in doing so, overlooked the importance of vulnerability.

We choose to meet out for coffee so our friends don’t see the messy lounge room or the laundry yet to be folded.

We apply filters to our photos to look a little less tired.

We don’t share that old memory to social media because we’ve certainly gained weight during those additional years living.

Our mental health starts with us, and is supported by those we hold closest.

So invite that friend into your home and forget the mess, because everyone’s got mess, and simply focus on connection.

While you’re at it, give the filter the flick, because everybody has imperfections, and share the moments that make you happy.

After all, your happiness is what really matters, and it starts with vulnerability.

A new approach to tackle the Bundaberg region’s surging domestic violence rate is set to launch in Bundaberg.

IMPACT Community Services, Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre and Family Law Pathways Network has announced their partnership with Griffith University Queensland to bring the MATE Bystander Program to the region.

MATE Bystander Program
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre

MATE, an acronym for Motivating Action Through Empowerment, is an education and intervention tool which aims to teach everyday community members to be leaders in the prevention of violence and conflict.

Queensland Court figures show the number of applications for domestic violence orders lodged in Bundaberg was up 31.8% (468 v 355) for the year to the end of March in comparison to the corresponding period in 2019-20; the largest increase anywhere in Queensland.

The MATE program teaches people to become proactive bystanders with the tools and understanding to step in and address problematic behaviour.

The bystander approach focuses not on the perpetrator or victim of violence, rather what we can all do to prevent violence in our homes, workplaces, schools and communities.

The program challenges the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society.

Previously the program has only been offered to organisations however Griffith University’s MATE team wants to pilot whether this service can be expanded by training community members to deliver it in a local context and, if successful, on a wider scale.

IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support Manager Melissa Clarke said the program offered an opportunity for the community to respond to violence as a whole.

“This is about looking at the issue not only from a domestic violence lens but also as violence in general,” Ms Clarke said.

“This program aims to make a stand and encourage people to consider the right thing to do.

“It’s around being aware of what violence actually is and if you do see some form of violence, knowing what some strategies are to respond in a safe manner so that bystanders can walk away knowing they did the right thing.”

Griffith University will deliver a three-day MATE training course to 30 participants in August.

In preparation for this, IMPACT will host an information session on May 18 from 10am to midday for those who are interested in participating in the training.

The program slogan of “be someone that does something” urges all community members to get involved.

Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre’s Bec Spruce said everyone was encouraged to attend.

“Anybody can be a bystander, we’re talking to you,” she said.

“This initiative is a whole of community approach that welcomes people from all backgrounds.

“Even if people may not be eligible for a place in the training, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice – we are here to listen too.”

For more information or to register phone IMPACT on 4153 4233 or sign up below.

To learn more about the MATE Program go to https://matebystander.edu.au/about/.

What MATE is all about

Every single one of us plays a role in violence prevention—whether it’s something we’re exposed to directly or not. We want you to have the ability to recognise when a problematic situation is taking place and feel empowered to effectively interrupt the behaviour, providing it is safe for you to do so.

It is our aim to raise awareness around the ways in which abusive behaviour is embedded in our culture as well as the subtler issues that support a potentially harmful environment. Our programs challenge the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society. We recognise that in order to facilitate change, we need to open a dialogue about the dynamics and context of all forms of violence.

You may recognise that violence and discrimination don’t align with your values, but how often do you take a deep dive on the topic in an interactive environment? In our violence prevention programs, we create a safe space for people to share their opinions as well as any experiences they may have had with problematic behaviour to bring light to issues that are often left undiscussed.

Sign up now

Jannene Thorn knows a thing or two about lending a helping hand to those in need of support.

Jannene is IMPACT Community Services' Manager of Mental Health Services and has worked at IMPACT for 10 years across at least four different programs.

Jannene loves the work she does and the reputation IMPACT has in the community.

“I work here because the mission, vision and values align with mine,” Jannene said. 

“And I work here because I enjoy empowering vulnerable people so that they become independent and no longer need support.”

Meet Jannene Thorn, IMPACT's Mental Health champion
Meet Jannene Thorn, IMPACT's Mental Health champion

Jannene said that IMPACT was great because of its diversity, scope and wrap-around services.

“Someone will come as a jobseeker and wind up in parental support, or one of our other programs which is right next door,” she said.

“People are being referred across programs all the time – it's a one-stop shop here.”

Mental Health programs at IMPACT Community Services

Lived experience with disability served well

Jannene was a chef before entering the community services field, but after 19 years she felt “burned out” and needed a change of career.

She has a brother with disability so had plenty of experience in caring; it seemed natural to work in that sector. Jannene started working eight hours a week at IMPACT as a casual disability support worker, but soon became full time.

“My lived experience with my brother made me stronger as a support worker,” she said.

“You already know what standards of care are needed to look after someone properly.”

IMPACT's Community Hub: A one-stop-shop of service providers

Jannene spent three years as disability support worker before moving to early intervention in parenting as a Team Leader.

She then worked in supported employment at our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), looking after our workers with a disability.

“I really loved it and almost didn't want to leave,” she said.

But then Jannene found her calling as Manager of Mental Health Services, looking after a vast area of the Wide Bay. She now manages nine programs and organises the collaboration with other various support services.

IMPACT collaborates with other support services

“We collaborate well with the community,” Jannene said.

“We partner with other services, all with the end view of a better outcome for the client.”

Jannene manages a staff of 10, all mental health experts with vast experience.

“We use a strengths-based recovery approach,” she said.

“It’s whatever works well with the client.”

Jannene's plans for the future involve co-designing mental health programs and trying to establish a wider footprint across Queensland.

And of course, helping more people to improve their lives.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. THIS WEEK TANYA TALKS ABOUT MANAGING MINDSET.

As human beings, we are inherently social creatures.  

We haven’t changed much from our ancestors, who hunted, travelled and thrived being part of a social group.  

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

If separated from their tribe though, it could result in catastrophic consequences.

Fortunately, while the threat of a sabre tooth tiger attack is no longer a concern for us today, the issues that can be experienced when disconnected from our social group are still very real.

How our biological instincts protect us in the modern day

Some can experience a reduced quality of life or a decline in mental health. 

Others may find it hard to become part of a social group, continually experiencing rejection.  

And then there are others, who may have developed high levels of rejection sensitivity, expecting to be rejected by others and therefore often behaving in ways that push other people away.  

This behaviour is often driven by fear and can create a painful cycle that can be challenging to break. 

No one enjoys being rejected by others.  

Yet, no one is exempt from rejection in their career or in their life.  

That undeniable crushing feeling when we don’t get what we hoped for.  

And often, these feelings start to develop in childhood.  

Missing out on being selected for the basketball team.  

Getting a C on a test when you were hoping for an A.  

Not being invited to the party that everyone else is going to.  

To an adult, these examples may sound trivial.  

However, these small events continue to stack throughout a lifetime and become the building blocks for the learned behaviour and beliefs that we build and depend on.  

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Fast forward to today; a friend read your text and didn’t reply.  

You then saw her at the shopping centre later that day and she walked straight passed you without saying hello.  

You may find yourself thinking, ‘Geez. Twice in one day she has ignored me. Why would she treat me like that? What have I done?  

This response is the automatic, learned response.  

It can be that little voice inside us that believe it or not, wants to keep us safe.  

Remember, our ancestors were caveman.  

They relied on the fight, flight and freeze response to keep them safe; we are no different.  

Understanding our fight, flight or freeze instincts

If we consider the example above, we might get angry (fight), we might decide to avoid them (flight) or we might become so paralysed (freeze) by the event that we start to isolate ourselves from her, and also others to avoid similar rejection.  

The reality is that rejection hurts, and for good reason.  

A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2011, found that our brains fire in the same way for physical pain as it does for intense feelings of social rejection.  

Their research suggests that powerfully induced feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain involved in physical pain sensation.  

There is no denying that we all experience rejection during our lifetime, and it can be painful and tough to endure. 

However, there are also times when our fear of rejection or unhelpful thinking can prevent us from taking that next step towards building stronger relationships.   

So what is the alternative?  

We could reframe our thinking.  

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Instead of listening to our little voice, and instantly reacting with a fight, flight or freeze response we could instead think, Huh. She seems to have something on her mind. I hope everything is okay. Must remember to touch base and check in on her.’  

Sounds too simple?  

Perhaps, as it does take time to unlearn patterns of thinking that you have spent years practicing! 

The key takeaway is this: reframing our thinking can be powerful.  

It can shift the focus from us to them.  

It can show our genuine care and consideration for others.  

For some this will come easily but for others, be patient.  

By reframing our thinking and becoming more curious about the behaviour instead of engaging in unhelpful thought patterns, we are opening ourselves up to building deeper, healthier social connections.  

You have got this. 

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA TALKS ABOUT THE POWER THAT GRATITUDE CAN HAVE IN OUR LIVES.

Receiving a letter or expression of gratitude from another person is incredibly powerful. Being grateful for what we have instead of wanting more or taking others for granted is a pitfall that we can all experience - at times more often than we realise. So how can we build our gratitude muscle?

STRONGER TOGETHER: Try an attitude of gratitudeA few months ago, I received a gratitude card. The card was filled with praise and positive things and although the sentiment was incredibly special, the thing that sparked my interest initially was ‘who could have sent this?’. Fortunately, this quickly passed as I refocused my attention on appreciating the kind words and the generous nature of the act itself. This act was simple yet powerfully uplifting, leaving me with the feeling you get when you win a prize or competition. The card has taken pride of place on my desk as a daily reminder that at some point, someone out there appreciated me for something that I had done.

The sender was soon revealed, yet there was a part of me that wished that the mystery had remained unsolved. The generous nature of the act itself was what truly mattered, reminding me how simple acts of gratitude can have a compelling effect on people and their capacity to cultivate happiness, kindness and compassion.

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Improve your quality of life

Research suggests that being grateful and expressing gratitude towards others can improve our happiness and quality of life. Gratitude enhances empathy, improves physical health, mental wellbeing, quality of sleep, self-esteem and also has the capacity to reduce stress. Identifying what we have to be grateful for, especially during our most challenging times, can foster resilience and improve our hope for the future.

Keen to give it a try? Here are a few simple ways to get started.

  1. Write thank you notes. Mix it up with a mixture of personally delivered and unauthored posted cards – maybe even write one to yourself occasionally! Research suggests that this practice can increase personal wellbeing and happiness – what are you waiting for?
  2. Keeping a gratitude journal. This practice has been pretty patchy for me to date, but I now have a journal beside my bed and record the top five things that I am grateful for before hitting the pillow. A 2005 study found that writing three positive things every night for one week can increase a person’s happiness for up to six months.
  3. Practice mindfulness: I have an incredible respect for mindfulness and its ability to expand awareness and cultivate understanding and appreciation of self and others. Being present, without judgement, and noticing what is happening within the environment and how that is affecting our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations is a powerful gift.

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Start small

Simply start by observing and noticing the things that you or the people around you are doing each day that you appreciate or are thankful for. Notice what it is and make a mental or written note of who did it and why you are grateful to have noticed it. Keep practicing and noticing until those observations and notes become habit forming, and the art of showing gratitude towards yourself and others becomes part of your daily practice.

Leanne Baker is a name you might be familiar with – especially if you’re a busy mother or planning guru.

Leanne is a local business owner whose experience and products are widely sought after.

Her range of yearly planners and time management techniques are a hit within Bundaberg families, which makes her kind end-of-year gift all the more special.

Holiday spirit helping families in needIn November Leanne put a call out to her social media community to find a cause or charity to support.

“…a number of our community who are survivors of domestic violence shared about how the planners have helped them turn their world around,” Leanne said.

“Knowing this, we couldn’t help but reach out and donate these planners to (IMPACT) and aim to help as many people as possible – particularly because 2020 has been such a difficult year for so many.”

Learn more about IMPACT's IFS program

Leanne made the donation of 45 Leanne Baker Daily diaries, that retail at almost $56 each, as a reminder of the importance of weekly self-care.

“The budgeting pages in our LBD planners will be a positive and helpful aid in their lives,” she said.

“I believe that giving is one of the most rewarding actions in life, and in particular in business. Being in a position to be able to give back to others and also being able to see the difference it makes to someone adds meaning to what we do.

“It is important that (my sons) grow up with the understanding of the significance of giving to others, particularly if someone is less fortunate than us, as well as being actively involved in our local community.”

Staci Rae is a Case Manager with IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support (IFS) program and was the one to respond to Leanne’s social media query.

The IFS program assists families with multiple and complex needs, with 85% of their intake either experiencing, or having experienced, domestic violence.

“Leanne’s donation will help build or rebuild women’s lives and I know how thankful they will be for this gift,” Staci said.

Visit leannebaker.com to check out her range of products

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA TALKS ABOUT PUTTING OUR OWN WELLBEING FIRST THESE HOLIDAYS.

The holiday period is typically a time of more.

More relaxing, more family time, more spending, more food, and more alcohol.

But for families who experience domestic and family violence, more is a frightening reality.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Put Your Wellbeing First these HolidaysWhile many of our community members experience more love and joy, others are preparing for a time of uncertainty.

Existing family tensions, fueled by substance abuse and prolonged exposure to stressful environments, create the busiest time of year for family support providers.

In an environment where referrals for Intensive Family Support are already overflowing, and Government Departments are struggling to manage the number of intakes, we are urging people to make a change these holidays.

A 2018 study on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia found seasonal changes, such as Christmas and New Year, have been linked to increased rates of family violence.

It identified increased contact, financial stress, and consumption of alcohol as possible explanations for the rise in violence.

Support Programs at IMPACT Community Services

We want our Bundaberg community to enjoy this time of year without the worry of family aggression.

Other than the obvious step of consuming fewer harmful substances, reducing the amount of stress can also help.

Simple ways to reduce stress include acknowledging your feelings, reaching out to others, being realistic, learning to say no, continuing healthy habits, and taking “me” time.

Expectations around presents and how much money is spent can also be stress-inducing.

Overspending is often avoidable, so try to set an affordable budget and work to it; remember, children can only play with one toy at a time, and most adults already have everything they need.

This time of year is about giving thanks for the blessings in life, and maintaining or developing everyday good choices is important: eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise your body.

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Being able to identify triggers in others is also an important step to diffusing a situation before something more occurs.

The most common displays of this include hypersensitivity, verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, unrealistic expectations, isolation, blaming, threats, and the use of force.

2020 has already been an incredibly trying time for many and added stresses need to be left behind this holiday season.

Take each day as it comes and breathe through the difficulties.

The minor inconveniences will only affect us as much as we let them.

Have a wonderful end of year and we look forward to continuing this column in the New Year of 2021.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship you can phone DV Connect’s 24/7 women’s line on 1800 811 811 or their men’s line from 9am to midnight on 1800 600 636.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA TALKS ABOUT EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.

STRONGER TOGETHER: International Day of People with DisabilitiesAt IMPACT we pride ourselves on our inclusive culture.

Our ethos is based around helping people realise their potential and providing avenues to assist them in reaching their goals.

Our services range from family support, training, employment, mental health and disability support, just to name a few.

But one area of our organisation I am deeply proud of are the opportunities we have created for assisted employees.

The Material Recycling Facility (MRF) employs 23 NDIS participants, and our New Image Laundry is another avenue for supported staff.

Many of our supported employees have not held jobs prior to working at IMPACT and found it difficult to become employed.

See IMPACT's NDIS services here

Yesterday, December 3, was the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD), with this year’s theme being “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in one way or another, and now as we focus on returning back to “normal”, I would urge people to consider what “normal” should look like.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018 almost 50% of employed people with a disability reported experiencing unfair treatment or discrimination due to their disability from their employer.

Two in five reported that they experienced unfair treatment or discrimination due to their disability from their work colleagues.

STRONGER TOGETHER: International Day of People with DisabilitiesThis data shows Queenslanders have a long way to go when it comes to acceptance and inclusion of all people not only in the workforce, but in everyday life.

The conversation about the benefits of hiring people with a disability needs to be highlighted.

Our NDIS participants bring a mountain of life and joy to our organisation, and their happiness and willingness to learn is contagious.

NDIS participant Sarah creates impressive building blocks at Rob's Shed

Some of our staff have been working at the MRF for over 30 years and their dedication is second to none.

Just like diversity in age and culture is important, so is a range of abilities in a workforce. It exposes people to a different “normal”, encourages greater understanding and generates acceptance, which benefits our entire community.

So have the conversation, do some research and encourage others to engage with disability awareness. We all deserve to be accepted.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA OUTLINES HOW YOU CAN INCORPORATE CULTURAL DIVERSITY YOUR WORKPLACE.

In my office, taking pride of place, is a beautiful piece of Aboriginal art.

It was originally owned by the grandmother of our Mental Health Manager Jannene Thorn, and we were humbled to receive the work along with two additional pieces to display in our building.

Want to add a new feather to your hat? Check out our training courses.

Stronger Together: NAIDOC Week 2020Other artworks are also hanging in our foyer and offices. Jannene was taught the importance of her Aboriginal culture by her grandmother through storytelling and says it’s what has made her the strong Aboriginal woman she is today.

NAIDOC Week, November 8-15, is an annual reminder for us to not only stop and reflect on Australia’s Indigenous history but offers an opportunity to reassess our efforts as individuals and as leaders in the space of cultural inclusion.

Displaying cultural artwork is an important step towards inclusivity and diversity as it exposes the viewer to Aboriginal culture and not only normalises but reinforces the significance of multiculturalism and the gap we’re working to close.

It is well known that Australia has not always adopted an attitude of inclusion towards its First Nations people. This year the NAIDOC Week theme of Always Was, Always Will Be. reiterates the fact First Nations people have been the caretakers of this country for over 65,000 years and were the first educators, explorers, farmers, scientists and artists – among much more.

In a workplace environment it’s important that the significance of cultural inclusivity is reinforced, and we’ve all got a role to play in that space. The first step to being more mindful about cultural inclusivity is to accept that it must be a conscious decision. When we wake up each morning we must choose to act deliberately in the face of adversity.

At IMPACT we are constantly working at how we can be a more inclusive organisation. We want our staff and visitors to know that they aren’t just a number, and that we value them for who they are. Each of our staff undergo compulsory cultural training which includes education about First Nations people, because we know cultural inclusivity enhances a workplace and develops people’s knowledge and skills.

Need support? Find out how we can help you today.

Each month at our managers meeting, a key part of our discussion is based on inclusivity and diversity, and exploring whether we are making ourselves as inclusive as possible. We are always asking what we could do better. By holding this conversation on a regular basis, it reinforces our awareness and we become more in-tune with ourselves and what’s happening around us.

Cultural inclusivity also provides a greater reach for our organisation. When people feel safe and seen, they are open to becoming involved in our programs. Whether that be enroling in a training course or asking for support, an inclusive approach means we get to help more people.

While we are mindful and actively practicing inclusivity, there is always more to be done. I encourage you to take on an approach of mindful cultural inclusivity and have the conversation with others. Let’s celebrate our country’s history together.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA OUTLINES WHAT LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE BOTH IN THE WORKPLACE AND AT HOME.

Our region recently hosted the ATECH Sunshine Women in Business event held at The Generator. The event, hosted by female tech entrepreneur Sarah-Jane Peterschlingmann, was an incredible opportunity to listen and learn from local businesswomen with broad ranging expertise and representing a range of business and industry.

Being invited to participate as a panel member with such talented and inspirational local women was a privilege, and also a great reminder of the important leadership role that women hold in today’s society. Those in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions of the panel during the session, with one question particularly resonating ‘How do you manage the constant juggle between work and family?’

Do you need support? Find the right program for you.

Stronger Together: How to be a leader in all aspects of lifeToday, it is not only women who must manage this juggle. Flexible work arrangements have impacted many families and have started to blur the line between work and family life. Many people talk about achieving a work-life balance like it is something that can easily coexist by compartmentalising life into work time and personal time. The reality however is that trying to achieve this balance is like walking a tightrope and the slightest mistake could send us over the edge. In a world where smart phones ensure that we are always ‘on’ and the popularity of working from home has increased to a third of the Australian population since COVID-19, achieving work-life balance is no longer attainable.

The initial inspiration for writing this article was to share how working women manage the constant juggle between work and family life, however the reality is that most of the population need to find a way to acknowledge that the elements of their work and life do not need to compete or be evenly distributed. We need to acknowledge that the juggle will always be there, and instead find ways to make it feel a little less overwhelming.

  1. Leadership starts at home. People think of leadership as work-related only, however being an effective leader in our home lives can be much more rewarding for ourselves and for our families. It seems strange that striving to set a good example for others would be limited to our work lives. Instead our leadership skills should flow over to effect those who matter to us most to ensure that we get the small stuff right. Be accountable, be realistic and fair, learn how to self-regulate, do not aim to win trivial arguments and instead save your energy for the things that really matter, set boundaries and recognise that when we experience frustration with others our frustration is usually a result of us failing to set and adhere to boundaries that we have set for ourselves. Be the best version of yourself for the most important people in your lives.
  2. Create a third space. Dr Adam Fraser created the concept of using the Third Space, ‘that moment of transition between a first activity and the second that follows it.’ Using this space to mentally show up in the right frame of mind ensures that we will consistently be at our best. For those working from home, consider rituals that enable a transition from work to home life. You may choose to do this mentally by reflecting on your day, resetting your day to mentally transition from work to home life, and refocusing your attention and preparing to mentally transition and refocus on what is about to happen next. For those who prefer a physical transition, consider changing your clothes from work attire to casual or physically walk through a space in your home that reminds you that you are now transitioning to home mode.
  3. Check in. Have you ever arrived home exhausted and just wanted to curl up on the lounge and have a nap? My family have created a practice of reminding each other how much fuel we have left in the tank when we get home at the end of the day. Some days I have only got 10% energy left by the time I get home, so I let them know to ensure that they are aware that they need to step in and assist with some of the night-time chores. On other days, my husband’s energy levels are depleted, and it is my turn to step up. Being transparent about where we are at when we show up at home is important as it removes the frustration that we put ourselves when we perceive our partner or children are ‘letting us down’ and don’t step in and help when we need it. The people in our lives are not mind readers. Let your family know when your energy levels are depleted. Have a way of communicating this with your family so they know when they need to step in and do a little bit extra.
  4. Manage your screen time. People are not always aware of how much time they spend on their phone and how this time impacts on the time they spend with their family. Find ways to manage this time, including app’s like Moment that are designed to promote a healthier balance between life and time spent on small screens on digital devices. Moment will even give you a nudge when you are approaching your screen time limit!
  5. Be in control of one thing in your day. Make time in your day to do something for yourself that is a non-negotiable. Make sure that it is something that is important to you. It could be reading a book for 30 mins, going for a walk, hitting the gym, writing in your journal. Put that one thing in your calendar each day and keep yourself accountable to doing it. Every day.

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Learning to manage the juggle between work and home life is important. There is no silver bullet and instead, we need to find a way to successfully integrate both of these important parts of our life to ensure that the way that we show up is intentional, deliberate and brings the best version of ourselves. Life is full of obstacles and challenges. The key is finding ways to manage them. Dr Fraser reminds us that there are two types of people in life, those who light up a room when they walk in and those who light up a room when they walk out. Which one do you choose to be?

Leanne Rudd has replaced David Batt as Board Chair at IMPACT Community Services.

On 19 October 2020, IMPACT held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) where former long-standing Board member and Bundaberg MP David Batt resigned from the position of Chair in accordance with constitutional legislation which limits Board members to no more than three three-year terms (9 years).

IMPACT announces new Board Chair and director roles at AGMFollowing the departure of Mr Batt, former Treasurer and respected businesswoman Leanne Rudd, who has been on the Board for three AGMs, has moved into the position of Board Chair.

Leanne brings her passion for finance and business to the role, having specialised for many years in business advisory and financial services. Her decision to join the Board in 2018 was made with intent to give back to the community.

“When I first joined the Board, I did have knowledge around the employment services and the laundry, but I didn’t know the nitty gritty,” Leanne said about the organisation. “I didn’t know about the other great services and the help they were providing the community until I was on the Board.”

Leanne said she was surprised to learn the depth of services offered at IMPACT.

“The different aspects of the organisation is quite broad, so getting an understanding of it all, that has taken a little while,” she said.

With programs tailored to varying sectors including employment, training, family and parenting support, mental health, NDIS, health care and the running of commercial businesses such as the laundry and recycling centres, IMPACT services the region in many ways.

As Chair, Leanne hopes to bring the organisation’s strategic plan to life with the help of her fellow Board members. She believes Managing Director Tanya O’Shea and the team at IMPACT are doing amazing things and it is her goal to assist and support the great work the organisation is already doing.

“IMPACT can help anyone who needs support, whether that’s developing life skills or training to get a job, IMPACT can help anyone who is willing to come and have a chat,” she said. “There’s always someone there to talk to, to find opportunities.”

From her time sitting on other boards and finance committees, Leanne has developed a tactical approach to governance.

“One thing I am passionate about is finding different ways of doing things,” Leanne said. “I like to challenge the status quo, whether that’s finding alternative ways of problem solving or just looking at things differently through innovation or simplification.”

With Leanne moving into the role of Chair, Vanessa Fryer will now step into the Treasurers position. Neil McPhillips will remain Deputy Chair and Dr Talitha Best will continue her role as Secretary.

Managing Director Tanya O’Shea said 2020 would be remembered as “a year of possibility”, having recorded many extraordinary milestones.

During the year 2019-20 financial year IMPACT helped more than 5000 people across 25 programs, pivoted to online e-learning to deliver training courses and introduced two new programs (Community Navigator and COVID Connect).

One of the more significant achievements was IMPACT's jobactive team scoring a five-out-of-five star rating from the government. To receive five stars, a provider’s success in securing people sustained employment must be 30% above the national average. Furthermore, the team achieved this during the devastating bushfire period when compliance requirements were non-mandatory.

In a year of uncertainty, IMPACT will remember 2020 as a year of possibility. Through times of struggle, our people committed to an approach of adaptability and growth and have pioneered new ideas into exciting possibilities. We look forward to what can be achieved in 2021.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"Stronger Together" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. Today Tanya looks at the incredible efforts made by our carers and volunteers.

Last week was National Carers Week, and in honour of the millions of carers around Australia I would like to this week touch on the incredible service of our local carers and volunteers who contribute to our community every day.

Carers are people who support friends, families and loved ones achieve their day-to-day needs. Normally when someone who might be aged, have a disability, an illness or a mental health condition needs care, it is provided by someone they know and trust. Sometimes people don’t even know they might be classed as a “carer”. People who care for their parents, partners, siblings or children can think their role of providing care is one simply of moral obligation. However, there is carer funding available for those who are eligible. It’s important our carers and volunteers are not only looking after their loved ones, but themselves as well, and there are supports available for that.

The selfless act of caring and volunteering makes a real difference in the lives of not only the recipients, but to service providers as well. Research has shown the act of giving provides a great sense of value and fulfilment to the volunteer too.

Volunteer with IMPACT

Our Community Visitors Scheme has been operating out of IMPACT Community Services since 1992, and for 28 years we’ve been connecting lonely people with volunteers with great success. However, like many face-to-face services, our CVS program has been hit hard by the restrictions implemented to manage COVID-19 effectively.

It is a sad fact that many of the people our volunteers visit are alone and lonely in aged care facilities. Many don’t have family or friends in the area, and do not get external visitors other than those established through the CVS program. We operate not only in Bundaberg but Childers, Gin Gin, Monto and Gayndah, and across the board we’re seeing volunteer numbers drop significantly as a result of Coronavirus restrictions.

Mental health and wellness has been a battle for many people throughout this pandemic, and our elderly are not excluded from that. Many of our volunteers find themselves falling within in the “at-risk” category and, with the addition of tight visiting limitations, very few visitors are now able to meet with someone to brighten their day.

We are working to overcome this hurdle by connecting digitally. Our CVS program has sourced electronic tablets to assist in this space and facilitate a virtual meeting. We are encouraging anybody who has a spare hour each week, or even fortnight, to connect with a lonely person in aged care. It really makes the world of difference.

According to Volunteering Australia, the top reasons why people volunteer are to help others, for personal satisfaction, to do something worthwhile, to gain social contact themselves, and to be active. Volunteers also provide an economic benefit, with an estimated $14 billion of unpaid labour served each year. It’s safe to say not only Bundaberg but the entire country come to a grinding halt if it wasn’t for the commendable gift of time our volunteers give. Let’s give thanks to their efforts and encourage others to take up the amazing act of volunteering and caring for our treasured senior citizens.

Of course, as restrictions begin to ease in this space, we are facilitating face-to-face visits. If you’d like to get involved, either virtually or in person, you can contact our CVS Coordinator, Heather Hinsbey, on 0448 035 891 or 4153 4233.

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