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Breaking down barriers one walk at a time
March 12, 2020
Carol Quayle is getting used to walking. She spends time walking in local parks and streets alongside women who are being assisted by Emerge. It is a good way for her to connect with women who need a listening ear.
Carol has been volunteering for Emerge since early 2019 although she has supported the organisation for the past nine years as a member of the Mordialloc Rotary Club.
“I was looking for something useful to do in a more practical way. I have come from a family which has always helped out in the community and so in many ways this is just an extension of previous volunteer work I’ve done throughout my life,” Carol said.
As a volunteer, Carol has been visiting a couple of women to provide social support as they are disconnected from their communities and have no connections locally.
“This has included being with the children to enable their mum to get to the shops or have a coffee with a friend, and sometimes be an extra pair of hands in a busy household. And there is usually a walk,” Carol said.
With a background in nursing and social work, much of her time has been spent working with children and families who have survived trauma and grief.
The social work background is what led her to Emerge, having seen many women admitted to emergency departments and hospital wards, and recognising the impact such trauma has on children and families affected by family violence.
Carol is currently working in a health service supervising and supporting several teams of social workers in hospital and community settings. The remainder of her week is spent in Emerge’s office or with the women.
“Just being present and available to listen is important. I believe my non-judgemental attitude helps to develop trust between us and enables women to share some of their experiences,” she said.
Being a volunteer comes with its challenges, not least spending time with and around children.
“Sometimes the children find it difficult to discriminate between friend and foe and look for attention, or have difficulty engaging with strangers because the previous experience has always been negative,” Carol admits.
Other challenges come from the women themselves who have been made to feel worthless by her perpetrator and or the perpetrator’s family.
“Understandably, this can make it difficult to engage because the trauma they have experienced has challenged their trust in others. I often find the women are grateful for the connection but are not sure how to develop a lasting relationship, especially as they are only in a transitional situation and will move on the somewhere else,” Carol said.
Emerge will assist these women and children with their next move, to a more stable and consistent life, with appropriate referrals in place.