Meet the team: Tara – Drummond House

Hi! My name is Tara and I work in Drummond House, which is our home-away-from-home for the kids and families who stay with us for a week or so at a time while they are attending our programs in Manly.

What is your role at RFW? 

My role is primarily dedicated to creating an environment where our rural families feel a sense of care and connection. From the time they walk through our doors to the day they walk back out, the Drummond House team members are on-the-ground, making them feel at home, while attending to their needs and providing support and reassurance along the way. While the clinical care team focus on supporting their future, my focus is making a difference to their day.

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

How long have you been here? Have you seen any changes during this time? 

I have been at RFW for more than 20 years and have taken on a variety of roles including Clinic Nurse, Recreation, Parent Activities Coordinator and now Customer Service and Family Support Officer. Over this time, I have watched the RFW vision evolve and continuously expand to support the increasing complexities of our families’ developmental and mental health needs.

Why do you choose to work at RFW? 

That is a great question!! Clearly there is something special about this place that has kept me here for so long!!!

In contrast to my role at RFW, I also work as a freelance Art Director. Working in the creative industry has certainly given me a peek at what life looks like from the other end of the spectrum! Whilst it is has afforded me some great opportunities, it doesn’t satisfy my desire make a difference and be a part of a greater vision that changes lives.

I love working in an organisation with people who seek to empower individuals, strengthen families, support communities and continually strive towards creating a better future for our next generation.

Describe your typical day 

As with every family, our day-to-day lives can change at any given moment. Now add 30 families to the mix, along with their own unique challenges and complexities. Right there is a snapshot of typical day in Drummond! Every day is different. In saying that, it always starts the same…with a strong cup of coffee! Then it may progress to preparing for future admissions, booking accommodation, calling new families, liaising with clinicians, engaging with families, resolving issues, monitoring challenging dynamics, de-escalating situations, calming kids and parents, being a listening ear, wiping a few tears and, of course, drinking more coffee!!!

What’s the best thing about working with families from rural and remote Australia?

Being a parent can be difficult at the best of times. Now couple that with managing children with extra needs, living in isolation, sometimes with zero support and very limited services, not to mention facing the hardships of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19. The resilience of these families is awe-inspiring! Their ability to get up each day and contend with relentless external obstacles whilst pushing through their own emotional barriers is something that I deeply respect. Working with our families has filled me with a deeper gratitude for the privileges that many of us city folk take for granted, and has taught me about the internal strength that we all possess, if we are given a glimpse of hope for our future.

What do you think makes RFW unique? 

Often families travel hundreds of kilometres to attend various therapies. To have all the services under the one roof, with the support of teachers and clinicians who work together in creating a holistic plan for our client and their family is invaluable to our parents. And to ensure that our remote families who can’t access our face-to-face service are not disadvantaged, our therapies also reach out to them via Telecare. Our families are empowered by our clinical expertise AND enriched by our sincere and personal approach while they are in our care. We really offer a unique service.

Share a story

Being the first point of contact when the families arrive, I often see carers land on our doorstep physically exhausted and emotionally depleted. Many express feeling alone and unable to cope, yet over the course of the week I often see their countenance change from a heaviness to having a spark of hope in their eyes. Watching them walk out our doors, it is incredibly rewarding knowing they go home a little more replenished with a little more hope. Hearing comments or receiving letters and cards over the years saying, “you saved my child,” “you have saved my marriage”, “we now have hope”, “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you guys,” are certainly beautiful testaments to the life-changing impact of our service.

Has COVID-19 impacted your work?

Yes! Being the face-to-face service that we are, our Drummond House team has been significantly impacted, because we’ve had to put a temporary stop on our client families coming to Manly.

While I miss our families greatly, the silver lining is that I have been reallocated to working for other departments, giving me a greater understanding and appreciation of all the different cogs that work together to make this finely-tuned service live up to its name as a Centre of Excellence.


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