Monday, 30 December 2013

Farewell to

I have enjoyed posting each week, or thereabouts, on blogger, but SusanSays has now changed platform and can be found on the Rogan Family Care pages at:

Come and follow us there for your fix on families, nannies and nannying!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

International Day of People with a Disability.

Today is International Day for People with a Disability, and there have been various events around Australia to mark the occasion, including the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, Awards, art shows, a radio program and a sausage sizzle.  No doubt politicians will be photographed at these or other events as they promote the new National Disability Insurance Scheme which is already under fire for delays in processing and inadequate funding.

The Day was launched 21 years ago by the United Nations at the end of Decade of Disabled Persons, with the aim of moving towards a series of goals towards full accessibility in all areas of life for all people.  Like all such lofty goals, the steps have been small and much remains to be done.

The idea of disability encompasses so much: physical, intellectual, emotional/psychological/psychiatric often compounded by social factors like family structure, income, religious beliefs etc.  Degree of disability is also an issue.  Some people, of course, have multiple disabilities with very complex needs.

There is no united disability community as all these areas of disability tend to have different needs and interpretations of goals like inclusion and accessibility, and are often in competition for funding to further the cause of their own particular needs.  Divisions exist, for example, within the deaf community about cochlear implants with some arguing that this technology undermines and devalues those who have managed their disability by creating their own parallel community with its own (sign) language and activities.  It is also not unusual to hear people with a particular disability claiming to less or more disabled than those with another.  And I was always amazed when a disabled friend used to criticise another girl in a wheelchair as being 'someone who gives disabled people a bad name.'

I have previously written about the impact on a family of having a baby born with a disability, but disabilities can become gradually apparent over a period of time, happen as the result of accidents, other injuries or illnesses.  While the disabled person is the one who bears the primary consequences, other people like parents, partners, children and friends can also find their lives changed as a result.  A young woman I know, Susie, has written a blog about her life and that of her son Ollie, since he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  I hope she will write for us soon telling the story of the early stages of their story as she tells powerfully of her feelings as the diagnosis was made.  A few days ago, however, she wrote a summary of what she and her family have gained over the past year.  She doesn't gloss over the hard parts but instead celebrates the positive.  Perhaps this should be what we all do on this International Day of People with a Disability.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Jo's story: life as a nanny.

Today we have as our guest blogger, Jo, who is one of the consultants at Rogan Family Care.  I had to really twist her arm to get her to write for us, but I'm sure you'll agree she has done an excellent job of  telling her story and reflecting on her life as a nanny. When you read it you will understand how fortunate we are to have her and her wealth of nanny experience as part of our team. 

My name is Jo, and I have been working with children full time since 1997. Originally I wanted to be a child psychologist so that's what I studied at Uni.  In my final year I ran out of funds so, while I looked for a job, I volunteered at an Early Learning Centre.  After a few weeks they offered me a permanent role and I loved it so much I stayed there for three years.  I was very fortunate to work with some amazing teachers. Through their instruction, my previous studies, and professional development, I learnt a lot about children and a whole lot about myself.  

My first real nanny job was after school care for a daughter of one of the parents at the centre. Then, like most nannies, I gained more work through word of mouth recommendations.  I signed up to a few nanny agencies and worked as a temporary nanny and agency centre worker.  I can't recommend enough to people who are new to the childcare industry how important it is to be exposed to a wide variety of centres and in home situations.  You'll see some less than great ones for sure, but what you'll gain from the experiences will give you so much to draw on in your future career.

After a while I settled down and worked for one family at a time again. This is still my favourite type of nanny work.  The bonds you build with the children and parents can last for many years after you stop working with them.  Seeing your hard work pay off when previously 'difficult' children respond to consistency and positive attention and watching 'unconfident' parents become more empowered is really rewarding.  

As many nannies do, I started taking work that included extensive overseas travel. With the years of experience came positions with 'high-profile' families.  Inevitably I encountered my share of 'difficult' clients, which I think is par for the course in this industry.  These more difficult experiences reinforced to me how important job satisfaction really is, and, on a personal note, that money really can't buy happiness. 

Most nannies I know who work for ‘high-profile’ clients are very good at multitasking.  I never really encountered the cliché ‘sit in the cafe and chat’ nannies you sometimes hear about. Helping run a large home, with household staff, travel, purchases, parties, appointments, school applications and basically doing whatever a client wakes up wanting can be a real challenge.  It can also be a hell of a lot of fun.  You meet people and have experiences that most people never will.  I think this is because being a nanny is such an 'inbetween/ambiguous' position in a large household.  You can't hide downstairs with the other staff.  Even though you're an employee you still go where the family goes (and if you have a great boss, you get to go some fabulous places without them as well!)  

I've learnt so much about myself through working with children.  Being exposed to so many different situations, countries, and ways of living definitely changed my life. 

I'd recommend nannying as a profession to anyone wanting a career with children.  If you love children, are open to new experiences, thrive on challenges and routines, and don't feel embarrassed singing Wiggles songs in the supermarket, it could be the career for you. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

What does the Productivity Commission inquiry into childcare mean?

The complicated Australian  system of government means that responsibility for childcare is divided between the federal and state governments.  This means that the states have responsibility for regulation of childcare, while the while the Commonwealth has the major funding role.  And the old adage rules: 'who holds the purse strings holds the power.'

The Prime Minister has announced the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission inquiry into Early Childhood services. This will impact on families, childcare workers, agencies, services and taxpayers.  He announced that the inquiry will focus on developing a system that that is flexible,results in increased workplace participation and ensures that children's developmental and educational needs are met. No commitment to increased funding has been made at this stage.

The press release announcing the inquiry, stated that 'The market for child care and early childhood learning services is large, diverse and growing, and it touches the lives of practically every family in Australia. Almost all children in Australia participate in some form of child care or early learning service at some point in the years before starting school. '  Many people, particularly women, say that they are 'unable to work because they are unable to find suitable and/or affordable childcare.'  This includes the limited hours of most services which were set up to meet the needs of people working 9-5, near home, rather than working shifts or extended hours or with long travel times. Concern was also expressed about the needs of vulnerable and disabled children, and those who are entering school with significant learning and developmental delays.  

Home based childcare provides families some flexibility in working arrangements and our nannies are well equipped to help children with developmental delays and disabilities, but we also need to ensure our workers do not work excessively long hours and are adequately paid. 

I have long believed that the extension of the childcare rebate to families in this sector would help with the costs and be equitable with childcare centres.  Another option, which the Productivity Commission will consider is the New Zealand model where home-based care is subsidised for low and middle income families when it is provided by a registered carer who is supported by an educational service.

Parents, nannies and other interested parties need to keep informed about these issues, think about them and be prepared to act to ensure we get a system that meets the government's objective of 'a system that is not only affordable, but ensures people can work flexible hours whilst knowing that their children are receiving high quality child care.'

Articles from The Age: Prime Minister's Announcement 17/11/2013
                                       Support for Nannies 18/11/2013
                                       Childcare centres vs nannies 19/11/2013