Our staff here at liveBetter are integral to who we are and how we function as an organisation. We wanted to get to know the people who make LiveBetter such a great organisation a little better, and we’re excited to introduce LiveBetter Conversations.
Livebetter Conversations will provide us with the opportunity to catch up with LiveBetter team members and learn more about them, their story, their hopes and dreams and how they came to work for LiveBetter.
This month we caught up with LiveBetter’s Internal Audit Lead, Stacey Henley.
You might already know Stacey Henley. Perhaps you’ve bumped into her in the kitchen of LiveBetter’s Orange head office or had the opportunity to chat with her over Teams. Stacey has worked for LiveBetter for 21 years, which is an impressive number. She’s practically part of the furniture!
Stacey works in Governance as the Internal Audit Lead, a role she relishes (more about that later), but it’s taken her 21 years, and some clever navigation of a few forks in the road, to get to where she is today, and amazingly, her enthusiasm for the work she does every day hasn’t waned.
You’d have to say Stacey’s progress over the years is living proof of the career opportunity and job satisfaction LiveBetter can offer its employees.
We sat down with Stacey to hear her story.
A bit of background…
Stacey lives with her partner, stepdaughter, and her dog Wilfred in a small cottage located in the Central West town of Orange. Her other daughter, Ashlee recently moved to Newcastle, leaving Stacey coming home to an emptier ‘nest’ each day, a situation which is taking her a little getting used to.
Stacey wasn’t always a ‘town’ girl. She spent the first twelve years of her life living on a property near Condobolin. Before starting high school, her family sold the property and moved into town, and after attending school locally for several years, Stacey completed years 11 and 12 as a boarder at Mount Erin Boarding School (Trinity Senior High School) where she made friendships that are still going strong today.
“I enjoyed school – it was a good place to socialise,” she says with a chuckle. “I was more focused on making new friends in years 11 and 12 than I was on my study… and I was very successful at that!”
Upon finishing Year 12 Stacey headed off to Canada on an exchange program for twelve months where she taught English as a second language to high school students.
As her time there drew to a close, Stacey realised she had no clear idea of what she wanted to do next. Her plan had always been to return home to study, but – study what?
She had a chat with her mother who worked for the local TAFE and asked her for some suggestions. Her mother (who clearly knew her daughter well) sent her some information on the Diploma of Community Services, which is available through TAFE, and there was something about that course that resonated.
“I ended up doing a Diploma of Community Services because that’s what my mum chose for me,” she laughs. “She picked well!”
“I started working at LiveBetter as a work placement in Disability Services when completing my Diploma, and I really enjoyed it.”
She enjoyed it so much that when the work placement finished, she started volunteering for LiveBetter in an afternoon program for adults with disabilities.
“After a while, a casual position came up in the respite service, and I took it on, balancing the work hours with my studies.”
The casual position soon became permanent part-time, and the rest is history.
“This is the job that I’ve always wanted, but never knew existed.”
This is how Stacey described her job when she first began working at LiveBetter. She started as a Disability Support Worker and spent five years working across Respite, Day Programs and Accommodation. Stacey then moved into a Respite Services Coordination role. Here she managed LiveBetter’s Respite Programs including Vacation Care, After School Care and Weekend Respite.
The opportunity arose for Stacey to move across to LiveBetter’s Child & Family Services, and work in the now-defunct Early Start Diagnosis Support program, supporting families as they began to navigate the world of ‘disability’ for their newly diagnosed children.
From there she returned to Disability Services, working as a coordinator for three Supported Independent Living (SIL) houses. This was a fairly diverse role, involving the day-to-day running of the houses and included everything from rostering, and liaising with guardians and financial managers, to ensuring the bills were paid, appointments attended and there was food on the table.
By the time Stacey had accrued Long Service Leave she was ready to shake things up a bit. But rather than set off on a holiday adventure to some exotic destination, she used the time to experience working in a different area of community service.
”I took three months off, and I went and worked at Verto as a Tenant Advocate just to do something different.”
It turned out it wasn’t for her, and she returned to LiveBetter to work in Case Management Services, and then with the arrival of the NDIS, Stacey became a Senior Support Coordinator.
“I loved Case Management. You could really help people…help them with anything!”
Stacey had always loved working with young people, and when there was an opening in the Carer Gateway program to do just that, she decided to jump at the chance. This was something completely different. Supporting young people who struggle to balance their caring responsibilities with their education, their work, and their social lives. Supporting them to have the same opportunities that their non-carer peers enjoy. And once again, it was a role Stacey threw herself into one hundred per cent.
It was while she was working in the Carer Gateway that the opportunity to join the Governance and Compliance Team arose, and although a little torn, Stacey decided to put herself forward.
It turned out to be a good decision.
“I’m now working in the Governance and Compliance Team as the Internal Audit Lead – and I’m really enjoying it. I applied for this role because I know that people naturally become anxious and fearful when they hear the word audit and I wanted to help alleviate that fear!”
“Internal audits aren’t a scary process,” she goes on, her passion for the work she is doing coming through loud and clear. “They’re actually very helpful! They help make sure that you are ready for the external audits we are required to have, and they assist with finding the cause of any recurring issues you might have within your service… they’re also a good way of showing what great work we do at LiveBetter!”
Best Thing (about your work)
Hardest thing (about your work?)
“Changes that are made that are out of our control. Change can be hard to deal with, you are set in a routine, and you know what you’re doing and then all of a sudden, you have to do everything differently! But I guess you just have to roll with it, understand that those changes are usually made by people who know what they are doing and for a good reason. And they’ll most likely make the lives of the people we support better. I think if you keep that in the back of your mind it makes it less challenging.”
Top Work-Life Balance Tip
“Go home on time.”
What keeps you going?
“I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I feel like I [in my role] can really make a difference to both our staff and our customers.”
Where will you be in five years’ time?
“Living closer to my daughter.”
If there was one piece of advice you could give to others who are starting out in the Community Sector, what would it be?
“I guess it would be if you stop enjoying this work then you need to get out. We work with the most vulnerable people in our community, and we need to be aware of how we are feeling and what we are projecting onto the people we work with. If you don’t enjoy the work, that will start affecting the people you work with. My experience of working in this industry has been and continues to be wonderful, which is why I’m still here, I guess!”