As the bushfire disaster swept across Australia, Central NSW Social Work Manager Cheryl Jenkins began work on the emergency response.
She coordinated Services Australia’s network of social workers ensuring they could get into bushfire ravaged communities to provide support and trauma counselling.
Sixty-five social workers visited isolated communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as part of Mobile Service Teams, with the help of the Australian Defence Force.
“They were able to offer very practical assistance,” Cheryl said.
“They were able to check people were safe, had somewhere to go and were connected with services to help them in their recovery.”
Services Australia social workers have been supporting Australians for 75 years. More than 650 staff are based in cities and regional areas around the country. They offer support and assistance including assessments, early intervention, crisis support, short-term counselling and referrals for people with multiple and complex needs. Last financial year they responded to more than 235,000 referrals for support.
Cheryl is one of the agency’s longest serving social workers. She started work in the Campbelltown Service Centre in 1983 working with families experiencing domestic violence and young people at risk of homelessness.
In May 2003, she managed the first team of social workers sent overseas to support grieving families during the trials of the Bali bombers.
“The support the social workers provided was critical especially during the court cases,” Cheryl said.
“It was a foreign environment and people were extremely emotional and they needed social workers to guide them through the process.”
Cheryl said it’s a privilege to support people in their time of need.
“People allow social workers into their lives at very difficult times,” Cheryl said.
“It’s always so incredible to see how resilient people can be and to be given the opportunity to help them through the challenges they face.”
- You can find more general information about our social workers here.