Lisa sits at her computer in the small bright office at the heart of the Newpin Centre in Ravenswood, Launceston. This is the quiet space for the Family Support Workers in the middle of the coming and goings of the day.
Having worked at Newpin for four years in the role of Family Support Worker with a Child Focus, doing transport and general hands on, Lisa began her own journey with Newpin as a client a long time ago. This has given her a lived experience of the value of the Newpin model. Now with a Cert. IV in Community Services and about to undertake a Diploma of Community Services, Lisa is a worker, a student and a mum. With a specific set of skills and empathy for the clients, she holds a unique position of insight into the process of emotional and practical support given to mothers and children through the programme.
Newpin in Launceston is run as a centre-based and outreach service where mothers and children under the age of five who have been identified as at risk and requiring support and education in how to parent. A lot of what happens here within the centre is around fostering heathy attachment and bonding between mother and child. Forming a safe and comfortable environment in which to encourage safe comfortable relationships. This is done throughout the day at the centre by introducing normalisation of emotional extremes and self-regulation of behaviour in a supportive and neutral environment.
Lisa is often the first staff member to see the clients on any given day as one of her jobs is to pick up the clients and children, to greet and transport them to the Newpin Centre. The transport run to the Centre begins at nine in the morning and returns the clients home beginning at two in the afternoon, so Lisa is the first and last face of Newpin for the clients in the day.
When asked what the most difficult aspects of her job Lisa was replies that it’s when you are called to have those tough conversations with parents who are emotional, and tempers are in play. Emotional control is a big thing with clients!
What do you love about your job? Lisa’s face lights up and she recalls the changes in children and mothers, not just to each other, but to staff and other clients as well. One of the often overlooked issues she points out, is that traumatised children still have normal stages and that not everything that is happening to them is because of trauma. The mothers too suffer from normal stages of life and to separate what is a result of trauma, environment, education, health and maturity can be instrumental in helping women and children grow to live better lives. Lisa knows that this is a fruitful programme as she has seen it work for others and herself.
In her own time Lisa is as hands on and productive as she is at work. With a list of crafts and skills from “doing up cars”, to crochet, cross stitch and gardening. “I like to be busy.” She also has a love of op-shopping and bargain hunting and the skills and energy to upskill all manner of old household items.
The routine of the Newpin service is also seen by Lisa as one of its great gifts to the clients. In worlds of chaos and few rules she knows how important it is when clients understand the value of routines that are encouraged and gently enforced in the running of the program.
Boundaries too, are an important factor in understanding the integrity of the self and the sovereignty of others, as expressed in the main goals of Newpin. Stated through using the acronym SEERS, Newpin teaches its core values of Support, Equality, Empathy, Respect and Safety. These are the values that change the world, one life at a time. The same values that create homes to be loving environments, and have encouraged Lisa to smile and say “I’m home where’s m’ coffee!” Annetia Goldsmith