Five years in child welfare a joy for workers

Kellie Stirton, Family Support Worker, and Justine Penny, Service Coordinator Fraser Coast have celebrated five years at Anglicare Southern Queensland’s Gympie Children and Parenting Program team.

Five years ago Justine Penny and Kellie Stirton joined the Anglicare Southern Queensland Gympie Children and Parenting Program team.

Justine, service coordinator for the Fraser Coast, and Kellie, family support worker, have played an integral role in the Gympie region community.

Justine applied for the family care coordinator role back in 2015 while living on the Sunshine Coast.

Three months later her family relocated to Gympie and they have absolutely loved it.

Her background was in early childhood and play therapy before Justine returned back to university to study social science.

“I have worked in the community/human services sector for over 20 years in the UK and here in Australia,“ she said.

“I have always been driven to work with people – drawing on my values and beliefs about people’s rights, strengths and capacities. This year I have taken on the role of service coordinator for the Fraser Coast team.

“I am thoroughly enjoying all aspects of this role as I am working closely with the team members while still maintaining a case load within the community.“

Justine said the Gympie team have established strong connections with other local organisations.

“As a team we deliver social skills/wellbeing group sessions in local schools and have developed an excellent reputation over time,“ she said.

“A highlight of my role is working directly with groups of children, encouraging the development of self-esteem and confidence.“

Working in the Children and Parenting Program has been an amazing experience for Kellie.

“It was great to start on the ground within a new program for the area. I live in Doonan (near Eumundi) on the Sunshine Coast, so for me the flexibility to work part time was something that I really wanted having two young girls at school,“ she said.

“I have enjoyed the past five years working within our office. We have a great team and have also formed some great partnerships with local stakeholders in the community.“

Before commencing in the Children and Parenting Program team, Kellie spent time at home raising her twin girls while working in the family business.

“Before this I was working within a Young Parents Program and have also worked within Youth Unemployment and Foster Care,“ she said.

“I am passionate about animal welfare and have spent time with the RSPCA Inspectorate and Underwater World.“

Kellie moved from Victoria in her last year of primary school and has spent most of her life in the Sunshine Coast area, with a brief stint in Port Douglas and also back in Melbourne.

Justine and Kellie were presented their certificates while participating in a team day event focusing on connection and reflection in Gympie.