Dianne and Jane's story
Jane: The first time I met the family, I met Lorraine, Matthew, and Marie, it was obvious, it was uncomfortable for them to have me in the house. The very first thing I could remember she said, "They hate us." The way Lorraine said it, it's like their life meant nothing to people of authority like me. At that point I have to get it through that they have value as people and they deserve the best service that they could get.
Dianne: The first time I met, Jane, she came across like she was the same as what I was. It made me feel like we were equal, and that our opinion really mattered. That's what made me feel less scared and that she was actually there to help.
Jane: The information we had about the family was neglect of Lorraine's medical needs, but upon getting to know them better, it was more than that. There was massive grief and loss in this family with one sibling dying. Then you have the family violence they've experienced from Dianne's ex-partner. I believe one has to look holistically, what has the family experienced in order to provide them with the best service that we could. Then you realise the state they are in, the house, why it's in such a mess. Why it was, you know, not being cleaned. It was not because they were very neglectful, but it's because of the other factors.
Dianne: We'd been in a domestic violence relationship for a long time. Then finally we escaped that situation and the children's father had a stalking nature which sometimes you didn't really feel like getting up and having to deal with that, which really did bring you down. You know, if you went out, you don't know if he's there, or if he's going to follow you, or try and talk to you, it was hard for the kids. Things were really overwhelming. Everything sort of got out of control. We weren't sleeping well, which meant that the kids weren't getting up to go to school. I'd lost all motivation. I knew I needed help, but I just didn't know where to turn. When Jane rung me, I got in a real panic, because obviously as soon as I heard that it was from FAC's, I was like, oh my God, they're going to come and take the kids, which was really frightening, because I'd already lost a child.
Jane: What's the best way to motivate mum? And it struck me, it's really by words. By letting her know everyday, affirming her worth, that she can do it and she's got beautiful kids, so it's all that positive self talk, "come on Dianne, you can do this." I was overwhelmed during the first home visit. I could see what the issues were, but I didn't know which one to prioritise. I requested that they do a big clean up. By Tuesday they started doing it, and we don't always get those results. So I think mum did a good job in raising these kids.
Dianne: We all joined forces, me and the kids, to have a working bee and try and get the house back into order. The kids all got it in, and got involved. They were enthusiastic about something. I'm proud of my son, Matthew. We got new beds and covers, and he bought them all himself. Which reminded me of my dad, because he was very good with his hands.
Jane: As a caseworker it's always hard, because you have to think what you're going to tell the family. So part of that is really making sure I choose my words well. You really have to be respectful because it's like, you know, how would you like to be treated if someone comes into the house and it's about confidence building, with Lorraine, with Marie, with Matthew, with mum. Positive language with the family entailed affirming their values, about the good things that they've done as a family or individually. For example, with Matthew, really good job in helping his sisters, or building their beds. With Lorraine having perfect attendance in school. I could not be prouder, and likewise with Marie getting on board with everything else, also attending school, helping in the house when requested to help. That's a good way of showing again, respect, in that language of you know, getting control back, growing her confidence as a parent. One of the worries I had was Lorraine's health, so we both agreed that we would go out for a walk. At first she didn't want to, but I said, "Look, I gave my word, I'm back, it's now your turn to keep your word."
Lorraine: I didn't really want to go walking with Jane.
Jane: When we were walking she didn't want to continue the walk, and she dropped on the ground, and she started shouting, you're trying to kill me. But I stayed with her, talked to her that she can do it and she did, she persevered and we finished the short walk. The following day when I came back, she had her shoes on and she asked me, "can we take the same path again?" and that was music to my ears.
Dianne: There's a lot more positives in our lives at the moment. The kids are now going to school everyday, Lorraine's now started doing a work skills program.
Lorraine: I really like work experience because it's fun, and you learn what they do in the library.
Dianne: Things have improved a lot since Jane's been involved.
Jane: I am very, very proud of this family, because they've worked so hard to get where they are right now, in such a short amount of time. They're a strong family, and I know that they can make it.