Lifestyle Equals Sign We see you

Published on Friday 17 May, 2024

Pictured left to right: Kimberley, Jacqui, Kasanita and Kerry

For Mother’s Day this year, we celebrated mothers and mother figures by shining a spotlight on four wonderful mothers from around our organisation. No mother is the same and we want to share our appreciation for the love, nurturing, guidance and support they provide to those they care for.

We also want to acknowledge how difficult Mother’s Day can be for those who have lost cherished people in their lives.

Kimberly, Therapeutic Support Manager

Kimberly started working at Lifestyle Solutions in 2015 as a Youth Worker, she then moved into a key worker role and from there was mentored to take on a leadership position as a Therapeutic Support Manager for our Child and Family Services in Ipswich, Queensland. Throughout her career, Kimberly has always felt an urge to do more.

Kimberly is a single mother with three biological children and three foster children. She has been fostering since she was 21, inspired by her best friend’s mum and seeing the positive impact it had on young people and their families. “Sometimes parents just need that little bit of time to work on themselves, and we can provide their kids with a loving home while they do that.”

Supporting children and young people and their families through difficult times is immensely rewarding for Kimberly. Over the years she’s supported a number of reunifications, where a child or young person returns to live with their family.

When asked what she loves about being a mother, Kimberly says, “each day is rewarding, they just bring me so much joy.” While Kimberly is wholly positive about her experiences of motherhood, she finds she must be “very organised” and plan ahead to balance work and family life as a single mother.

Kimberly is dedicated to instilling values in the children she cares for. By fostering a sense of belonging, support and love in all of her children, she’s not only nurturing their emotional wellbeing, but also shaping them into compassionate individuals.

“It’s so important to be a positive role model, so I can lead by example and reinforce those crucial values.” Through her actions and guidance, Kimberly is laying a foundation for her children to grow into empathetic and responsible children, carrying on her values and always lending a helping hand in a time of need.

Jacqui, Operations Manager

Jacqui has been in the disability sector for around 37 years, beginning her career in a support professional role. She completed professional development specialising in intellectual disability and is now an Operations Manager for our Possability Disability Services in Inner West and East, Victoria.

Eight years into her career, Jacqui and her husband had their first child. She felt supported by her workplace and was able to take 12 months off. Her expectations of motherhood were quickly dashed after the baby was born. “I remember going into my mat leave thinking that I’d live a life of leisure,” laughs Jacqui. “We had no family around for support, so it was all up to us to manage.”

With the flexibility being a shift worker offered, she was able to meet the needs of her young family with work responsibilities. Being a shift worker meant they saved money because they only needed childcare five days out of every fortnight.

Jacqui and her husband shared the load equally, which was a fine balance they needed to carry on as they brought another four bundles of joy into the world. As the family grew, Jacqui was able to reduce her hours to meet the demands of a young family.

Jacqui was approached to become an Operations Manager while her children were still young. She completed the leadership training but didn’t want to take on the demands of a nine-to-five role until her youngest was in school. “On his first day of prep, I got the call,” Jacqui shares.

As a working mother of five, Jacqui remembers the challenges of pick-ups, drop-offs and meeting the needs of their children at all of their different stages. It was challenging at times, but she wanted to be a “present parent” and model an equal partnership between parents.

Why did Jacqui want to be a mother? “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a parent. I think I like what a family unit offers. A family brings fulfilment to who it is that I am, and what it is that I do.”

For those who work in the disability sector and are considering becoming a parent, Jacqui shares that it’s important to be familiar with the award you’re working in, the hours and jobs available. “You can work as a support professional and work a rostered line that suits your family’s needs or find a steady day time role. There are also opportunities to study and move into leadership roles. Be open to what’s out there.”

Kasanita, Disability Support Worker

Kasanita began working with Lifestyle Solutions as a Support Worker based in Ermington, NSW, in around 2009. She had three daughters and became a single mother when her youngest was 10 months old.

Kasanita only started working when her youngest was in Primary School. Being a single mother, “It’s one of the hardest things in the world,” she says. “When they were young I never did night shift, I wanted to see my children sleeping safe. When I was working I had to teach them how to catch a bus and train. In the beginning it was really hard and they cried, but I needed to work late sometimes.”

Giving has always been a part of Kasanita’s life. In Tonga, her family lived close to the school so family members who lived on different islands and couldn’t afford to catch a bus would stay in Kasanita and her sibling’s beds while they slept on the floor. Carrying on this giving spirit, Kasanita is always there for and cares for her 92-year-old pastor, who she loves as a mother.

Kasanita has been supporting the same people with Lifestyle Solutions for eight years – she loves her job and can’t see herself doing anything else. However, being a mother has always been her greatest passion. “I love being with my children, and now also my grandchildren. I brought them up in a way that they can value life. To be respectful, humble and to love. What’s the use of having the whole world if you don’t have love?”

“Look after your children. Always praise and appreciate them. Always cuddle your children – so you are heart to heart. Show your children that you love them.”

Kerry, Communications and Brand Lead

Kerry worked as a Disability Support Professional for 10 years with other providers before moving into the communications field. She began her career at Possability in 2019 as Communications and Business Development Officer, then moved into her current role as Communications and Brand Lead in 2021.

Kerry shares that having a daughter with disability means she has to balance work around additional commitments.

“On my first day in the office, I walked in the door and had to head straight home. My daughter had pulled out her NG [nasal gastric] tube and I was the only one who knew how to put it back in.” Kerry’s daughter was born weighing less than 600 grams and spent her first eight-and-a-half months in hospital. She survived 11 infections and had five surgeries before she was one year old, which has had ripple effects on her development.

“Those were our hardest days. I’ve never felt so vulnerable and helpless; to see your baby endure so much and know and that she might not survive. But every day she’s become a little bit stronger and we’re so proud of her.” While she still needs weekly Allied Health to build her strength, work on her communication and learn to eat, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Kerry has always felt supported by Possability as a working mother, especially after the birth of her second child. “It’s a challenge having young children and trying to balance making sure they have everything they need with work. My partner and I divide up who will take our daughter to her appointments. I’m really lucky to have such an understanding team, who have always supported us and our needs.”

What has Kerry learnt since embarking on her journey into motherhood? “I’ve learnt that having children is a gift, and to focus on what they can do. My reality of motherhood might not be what I was expecting, but we’re all happy and we love each other – what more could I have ever wished for?”

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