Welcome to the latest edition of the Work 'n' Care newsletter. Each month we try and bring you stories that embody all aspects of a carers life. Our aim is to empower you in your caring role and to make your life a little easier. Contact us with your experiences and ideas as the process of sharing can make a carers life just that little bit easier. Read the latest edition below or use the links on the right to navigate our story archives.

 

Caring for a person with mental illness

 

Caring for a person with mental illness presents deep challenges.

Menatl illness

Read more: Caring for a person with mental illness

Three words can save a life

The connections all have failed. The future promises nothing.

 

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ruok

Read more: Three words can save a life

Breastfeeding mums at work

 

Miriam is a friend and a single mother, presently on maternity leave from her job as a mid-level manager in information technology.

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Breastfeeding

Miriam is a friend and a single mother, presently on maternity leave from her job as a mid-level manager in information technology.

She now faces a heartbreaking situation. Her two-months-old son, Jamie, born six weeks prematurely, has respiratory and developmental difficulties that require her constant attention.

What is she to do at the end of her maternity leave time? To employ a properly qualified nurse to look after Jamie while she’s at work would cost a lot more than she can afford. Must she abandon her career and become a welfare mum?

A couple of weeks ago, there was a glimmer of hope for Miriam and other mothers trapped in similar situations.

Baby breast-fed during Cabinet deliberations

It came in no less a place than the Federal Government’s Cabinet Room, not through a proposal for legislation but because a Cabinet Minister brought her baby son with her into the meeting and actually breast-fed him during the Cabinet’s deliberations.

And before that, in June, a Greens Senator, Larissa Waters, made headlines when she breastfed her baby while the Senate was in session and in fact moved a motion while she was doing so.

Maybe these two occurrences bespeak a change in attitude that might spread to the wider workplace environment. And it is attitudes that need most to be changed, not matters of practicality, as Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer demonstrated.

She fetched baby Edward’s cot into her office and installed it alongside her desk and used headphones so she could work the telephones while breast-feeding or holding him in her arms.

CEO will tell his executives it can be done

This was the scene that greeted the CEO of one of the major banks when he turned up at Ms O’Dwyer’s office for a meeting. “He was surprised, but not in a bad way,” she told Fairfax Media.

In fact, the CEO agreed to having photographs taken and said he’d use them to demonstrate to his own executives that it could be done.

“I’ve always been pretty efficient with my time,” said Ms O’Dwyer, who was also Acting Treasurer at the time.

Edward set a precedent for his presence at Cabinet meetings as a newborn, attending by teleconference from Melbourne. Then, at the ripe old age of three months, he made his ‘live’ debut in the Cabinet Room in Canberra and received a cuddle from the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Ms O’Dwyer has an advantage few other women enjoy. Her husband has been able to take extended leave to take care of Edward and his older sister, Olivia, who is two.

Miriam and others like her don’t have that way out of the work-care dilemma.

Ms O’Dwyer used the publicity surrounding Edward’s Cabinet meeting attendance to emphasise the need for the Liberal Party to pre-select women for ‘winnable’ seats.

She said it was ‘vitally important’ that women had role models in parliament: “Particularly women of different backgrounds and different experiences. I think that people need to see there is a career for them, and they can continue to be a mother or choose to be a mother.”

Surely the same principles should apply in all the work environment generally, not just in politics.

Have a good mood day

 

There are lots of little things which can make you happy and productive at the same time.

Good Mood Smiley

There are lots of little things which can make you happy and productive at the same time.

Seeing as you spend up to eight hours a day at work, it is worth thinking about the many things – including good habits and attitudes – that have the power to lift your spirits.

Whether it's taking a few minutes to dive deep into your favourite novel, keeping a daily gratitude journal, or spending some time in nature (even if it is just observing a plant growing on the pavement) there is plenty to include in your day-to-day life that can help set your mood and ensure you have a good working day.

Here are some great ‘good mood setters’ we have found for you!

Take care of personal business

Check with your boss if you can leave the office whenever you have personal business to take care of – this will give you a sense of empowerment through being able to achieve a happy work/life balance.

Be a sociable colleague

Smile! Say hello to everyone at work, but don’t stand there talking forever! People have work to do and they will feel annoyed if you keep them away from important tasks. It’s a balancing act – happy, sociable colleagues can make the world of difference to a working environment. Don’t be afraid to give someone a hug when they need it.

Find a mentor

Everyone needs someone who can inspire them and can give them wise advice. Pick someone who has been around for a while and who is successful. Ask them if they will be your mentor for a set period – say three months. Don’t overburden them or expect them to solve your problems. A wise mentor will help develop your self-confidence and that will make you happier and more in control.

Brainstorm

Brainstorm often. A brainstorming session can bring to the surface all the creativity of which you are capable. Look for the ‘nuggets’ that come out of these sessions and apply them. You will feel chuffed.

Learn something new each day

Whether it’s keeping up on current events, a new hobby or interest, or simply any new idea, taking a small amount of time to learn something new every day is a great way to add to your personal knowledge base. It helps you feel good about yourself and gives you something to share when you get home.

Smoothie, tea or coffee – tasty and energising

Your fav smoothie, a tasty earl grey tea or an energising coffee, milo, cocoa can be the reason you keep bright and cheery at the office when everything seems to be going haywire.

Nourishing lunches

The lunch break is an important refuelling stop. Take the time in the morning or the night before to make something nourishing. Choose protein and salad or vegetables over carbohydrates like grains, which can make you sluggish and tired. You will feel more energised.

Chill out with music

Chill out music for quiet days, favourite classics, thumping rap – what’s your fav? But don a set of headphones so you don’t disturb others at work.

Yummy sweet or savoury

Bring some sweets or savouries to share with your colleagues. Home-baked is always a treat, but cheese and biccies makes a welcome change.

Carers in high demand for foster children

Across Australia, the foster care system is in a state of crisis.

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foster care child fishing

Across Australia, the care of children taken from or abandoned by alcoholic, drug-dependent and/or abusive parents, and the many who run away from home, is a system in a state of crisis.

Since 2007, according to statistics cited by the ABC, the number of children in out-of-home care in NSW has increased by almost 60 per cent, from 11,843 to 18,659. More than 11,000 of these children are aged between eight and 17. And that’s only the visible bit of the iceberg.

Many are in the care of foster parents who are also working carers – but the number of foster carers is at an all-time low.

In all states, there has been a significant decrease in the number of foster carers available, partly because the financial support system has been pruned right back – by up to one-third in some states – and partly because the failures of the system are producing children who are too difficult for even the most dedicated carers to handle.

How and why has it got to this point?

In March, a NSW parliamentary inquiry into the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) reported that there were 79,814 children at risk of serious harm in NSW, but only 24,114 had received the attention of a case-worker – which is less than 30 per cent.

The department received funding for 2128 case-workers, but employed only 2001. The department had a $1.9 billion allocation in the 2016-17 budget, the inquiry found, but only $319,000 was directed to child-protection early-intervention.

The chairman of the committee, Greg Donnelly (Labor), wrote in the introduction to the report: “How can it be that in 2017, in a country as fortunate as Australia, so many children and young people are in harm’s way every day of their lives? How and why has it got to this point?”

The committee recommended an urgent injection of funding for “evidence-based protection and early intervention services.”

The NSW budget in June followed the committee recommendation and made a $63 million injection over four years into the child-protection system. FACS will employ 42 additional front-line case-workers, an additional 66 case-work supply-workers, 23 extra workers on the Child Protection Help Line and 10 more on the Joint Investigation Response Teams.

Some parents don’t deserve to have their children

Children in need of protection will now have a better chance of getting some attention and getting it sooner. The problem remains though: where, with the number of foster carers shrinking, are the children assessed as being at risk going to go if they’re taken from their families?

FACS minister Pru Goward, said. “Child protection is difficult and now we are embarking on world-class reform which will address many of the recommendations and concerns in that report.”

The ‘world-class reforms’ are based on an American model which, according to the former FACS Minister, Brad Hazzard, had reduced the number of children in care in New York City, Illinois and Tennessee, by up to 80 per cent. The key element of the program would be that abusive parents would be given two years to reform their ways or the children would be taken from them and put up for adoption.

“Currently the focus is not on the families that need to change,” Mr Hazzard said. “Children are taken when the families fail and go into care, being moved from pillar to post often until they are 18. Sadly, all too many of them end up in juvenile justice or the correctional system.

“There are some families, some parents who are just so dangerous they don’t deserve to have children, they lose that right. Whereas others just don’t get the parenting aspect. Government agencies will work with you, but if you don’t improve in two years we’re going to have to do something.”

Epidemic of ‘ice’ use to blame

Minster Goward has confessed the system is in crisis. She said the epidemic of ‘ice’ use was partly to blame for the steep increase in the number of children in care but she was hopeful the new early-intervention program would bring numbers down.

“If we could get on top of drug addiction in parents and the violence that comes with it, then I think we could get that trajectory to change direction,” she told the ABC.

Dr Jeremy Sammutt of the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney told the ABC as far back as 2013, four years ago: “We don’t do enough to remove children early enough, so they end up having really high needs, not being able to live in a normal foster home, which encourages carers to drop out because they’re so difficult to care for.

“We’re at a point now where we going to start re-residentialising the care system, with professional carers, particularly mental health professionals, to look after these kids who’ve been damaged.”

Fostering NSW has a full list of foster-care agencies on its website: http://www.fosteringnsw.com.au.